This Week's Cafe Review: Bellissimo Cibo at Unassuming Ciao Bello

Categories: On the Menu

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
The doppio ravioli special at Ciao Bello is vibrant in both color and flavor.
There are white tablecloths at Ciao Bello, and personable albeit highly professional waiters. There's an extensive wine list covering most of the world, but with a clear emphasis on Italy. There's an air of sophistication permeating the dining room, even during the day, when well-dressed businessmen and ladies who lunch converse thoughtfully over glasses of rosé.

But there's also pop art on the walls and flat-screen TVs showing football games at the bar. There's no foam or gel on the plates, and no foie or tasting menus. There's not much Tony's at Ciao Bello, and that's what's so refreshing about it.

Tony Vallone opened Ciao Bello, the subject of this week's cafe review, in 2009 as the casual sibling to his eponymous powerhouse restaurant that has been serving celebrities and die-hard food-lovers since 1965. Tony's has evolved into the seat of fine dining in Houston, its name synonymous with luxury, innovation and the local who's who.

Ciao Bello got off to a slower start, initially leaving critics skeptical that this restaurant could ever live up to the precedent that Tony's set.

But here's the thing: It isn't trying to.

Location Info

Ciao Bello

5161 San Felipe St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Tony's Restaurant

3755 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Glad you're writing about Ciao Bello, it's closer than Tony's to my vision of what Italian food should be: simple, fresh, uncluttered and driven by ingredients rather a megalomaniac in the kitchen. Ciao Bello is in my rotation for great Italian, right behind Da Marco and Giacomo's.

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