Free Pizza at Ciao Bello for Happy Hour

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for IMG_6048-.jpg
Pepperoni Pizza at Ciao Bello
I've gotten to the point where the thought of free food doesn't excite me anymore. That's why I'd never made the effort to try out Ciao Bello's happy hour even though I knew that they had free pizza. When I found myself in the Galleria area one afternoon around 4 p.m. craving pizza, I found myself walking through Ciao Bello's doors.

Virtually empty when we arrived at barely 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon, Ciao Bello is housed in what was once Jimmy Wilson's Seafood & Chop House. From what I could tell, the Vallone group has done little to change it since the takeover. The bar is the first thing you see when you open the door, so we grabbed prime seating smack dab in the middle with easy access to the bartender.

Ciao Bello's happy hour is actually a very good one. Drinks are $5, and while many places offer just wells and beer or wine, we had a choice of frozen drinks for the same price. I ordered a peach bellini, while my friend chose a strawberry bellini, and then we waited expectantly for the pizza to arrive.

"So how does this work with the free pizza?" I asked the bartender. "It's simple, I order it and then it comes out. I have a pepperoni on order which will come out in a minute," he said. The other bartender, a young woman, asked us if we'd had their pizzas before. "It's really good, just wait 'til you try it," she said. My expectations were extremely low, so I eyed her skeptically, thinking "free" meant that it would taste no better than a frozen pizza.

Well, I was wrong. Way off the mark, totally out-of-the-ballpark wrong.

Within minutes, an extremely large, exceedingly thin-crust pizza arrived, beautifully plated on an impressive rectangular plate. My friend and I eyed it hungrily and each took three pieces, but after the first bite, I was already looking around to see where the rest of the pizza had gone, and whether it would make its way back to us so I could get another piece.

"Can we get some more?" we asked the bartender ever-so-sweetly. He smiled indulgently and entered an order into the computer, promising that we'd like what was to come next.

By this time, I was ecstatic about the free pizza, because it definitely wasn't frozen and it definitely didn't taste bad. This was paper-thin-crust artisanal pizza to rival the straight-from-Italy franchise Piola. This was a pizza that I would gladly pay the $15.95 regular price for, that they were giving away - for free.

Thumbnail image for IMG_6058.jpg
Artigiano pizza at Ciao Bello
I wasn't shy when the "artigiano" pizza with goat cheese, caramelized onion and shaved pear arrived. I heaped my plate with several slices and noshed greedily, feeling like I'd stumbled upon one of Houston's best-kept happy hour secrets.

Perhaps it's not well known because the location feels somewhat suburban, lacking the "hip" factor that draws a large happy hour crowd. Whatever the case, after paying our embarrassingly measly $10 tab and leaving a generous tip, I knew I'd be back for the pizza, and not just because it was free.

Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Location Info

Ciao Bello

5161 San Felipe St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
el guapo
el guapo

the pizza there is in fact damn good... very thin and crispy.


What hours are happy hour?


That thar pic in the first frame: please someone tell that pizzaiolo to turn the pie while it's cooking, so that you don't get one edge that's cooked brown and the other that's undercooked yellow.

Not a lot a places give a damn about execution these days, especially when the happy hour hordes convenes for cheap pie and swill. Let it be otherwise, Lord, I pray thee.


ciao bello is ok, but rilly, rilly tired considering the new hip kids in the hood. philie, paris tex boy-toy, has a better hh scene, as does RDG.bello is soo00 depressing & unfun by comparison.


I think that free pizza at Happy Hour is the order of the day with them; their 'hipper', less suburban sister restaurant, Caffe Bello, does the same thing. I think they're having a tough time as well. But you're right, their pizza isn't frozen, and if you can stomach a severely limited selection of Happy Hour wines (1 chard, merlot or cab from the same label) you can fill up and catch a buzz rather cheaply.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Happy Hour!4–6pm, $1 Off Drinks and Complimentary Pizza.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I still haven't tried the pizza at Caffe Bello. Didn't know they had free pizza at happy hour, too! The bartender told me that the pizza at Caffe Bello is different because they have a different oven. Thanks for tip, will have to check it out one of these days.

Now Trending

From the Vault