Ciao Bello Restaurant Houston
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Houston Restaurant Weeks
Ciao Bello Restaurant was our latest indulgence in taking advantage of what is on the menu for Houston Restaurant Weeks. What started as a restaurant week in Houston has been expanded to several weeks. In 2017 the time frame for this ran from August 1st to September 4th, a total of 36 days!
There are significant benefits to customers, participating restaurants, and food banks.
The menus are fixed prices, and choices come from different categories. Lunches cost $20, brunches are $22, and dinners are $35 or in some cases $45 per person. $3.00 from each brunch and lunch menu, as well as $5.00 from each dinner menu ($7.00 from the $45 dinners), is donated to a local food bank by the participating restaurants.
- It is a massive benefit to the food banks which help provide sustenance to people who might otherwise suffer from hunger. According to their website, over 9.6 million dollars has been donated since this started in 2003 as of the year 2016. That is a fantastic number!
- The customers benefit because these set menus are less expensive than if the same items come from the menu at other times of the year.
- Restaurants benefit in potentially acquiring new customers who may return if they like what they see and get to taste. It is also on the schedule during typically slower times of the year. Thus their overall income can potentially be increased even with the deals and donations that come from their participation in Houston Restaurant Weeks.
Appearance and Décor
My husband has attended wine tastings at Ciao Bello Restaurant in the past and has liked their food offerings. It was my first time to visit this particular restaurant, and I liked the appearance and décor. The food I was to discover is delicious!
The large piece of art above a nook in the main dining room is eye-catching. The translation from Italian to English means “in wine we trust.”
We learned from a captain that the wine list is changed often even as much as weekly with new additions to the wine menu. While we chose not to have wine with our lunch, my husband took a look at their wine list and deemed it to have reasonable prices with a good assortment of offerings.
Our Food Choices
Pictured above is a bread basket brought to each table. Accompanying it is a flavorful olive oil dipping sauce. The bread selections were delicious, and my husband was particularly fond of the grissini, which are the long skinny breadsticks.
This salad pictured below was so tasty and satisfying. The Insalata D’Estate is fit for a king or queen living on a vast estate! Fortunately, one does not have to be royalty or even own an estate to enjoy this flavorful salad. It consists of arugula and radicchio greens with fresh blueberries and shaved Grana Padano cheese. Croutons and a preserved lemon vinaigrette top it off.
The Crispy Calamari also has charred tomatoes plus a charred tomato vinaigrette and basil pesto. This accompaniment was a nice change from the usual marinara sauces that generally accompany fried calamari in so many other places. The plate looks beautiful, as do all of their other offerings.
The Osso Bucco Ravioli is delicious. It consists of slow braised veal stuffed pasta with wild mushrooms and a marinara sauce. The making of a good Osso Bucco is a labor of love as it takes a long time to cook and develop those rich flavors slowly. My husband makes several versions of Osso Bucco, which are scrumptious, but we have never made homemade ravioli. So to eat it in this manner was a treat.
Oh my! To describe the Chicken Frascati as being delicious does not do it justice. It is a fantastic dish using scallopini of chicken, wild mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and penne pasta with a creamy sauce. The sauce envelopes the pasta and is drizzled over portions of the dish, making it so flavorful that I would go back just for this dish alone. There are hints of lemon on the chicken which balance the richness of the sauce. Whoever created this entrée should be given a culinary award!
Excellent Views From Our Table
We were in this portion of the dining room facing out to the more substantial part of the room with high ceilings. It gave us an excellent view of the entire room. Wine storage was on both sides of this room as well as in other areas of the restaurant.
I had a cup of regular coffee to cap off my meal while my husband enjoyed his cup of espresso with the accompanying piece of almond biscotti.
Patio and Bar Areas
After we finished our lunch, I walked through the adjacent covered patio area. Many different types of functions take place in this lovely room. The photo at the top of this page is from the patio area of Ciao Bello.
My husband has attended functions in their room upstairs as well as on the patio. This last photo shows a comfortable nook called the artist corner in the bar area of the restaurant. There is an expansive bar in which many patrons also choose to sit.
Aiding Food Banks
Food lovers and those just looking to get bargains when dining or those who wish to explore new restaurants can feel good about participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks. The counties of Galveston and Montgomery are included along with Harris, and the local food banks in each area are the beneficiaries.
Food banks are amazing! Each dollar given to them ultimately helps many hungry people. As an example, each $3 given to the Houston food bank turns into nine meals! That would be impossible without the help of many volunteers and donors. It is nice to know that other cities have similar programs.
This restaurant gets a definite thumbs up from both my husband and me. We look forward to future visits. The other restaurants we visited during the 2017 Houston Restaurant Weeks, and ones that we enjoyed were the following: Bistro Menil, Lucille’s, and Bistecca Italian Steakhouse.
Sadly, the owner of Ciao Bello Restaurant decided to close the restaurant in 2018. The address is 5161 San Felipe Street, Houston, Texas 77056. This part of our city is an upscale area. It will be interesting to see what takes its place.