Ciao Bello Restaurant Houston | Very Pleasurable Dining
Ciao Bello Restaurant Houston was our latest indulgence in taking advantage of what was offered on the menu for Houston Restaurant Weeks. What started out as a restaurant week in Houston has been expanded to a number of weeks. In 2017 the time frame for this runs from August 1st to September 4th, a total of 36 days!
There are significant benefits to customers, the participating restaurants and food banks.
The menus are fixed prices and choices are made from the 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 huge 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 an amazing number!
- The customers benefit because these set menus are often offered at less expensive prices than if the same items were ordered 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 offered during typically slower times of the year so their overall income can potentially be increased even with the deals and donations that are derived from their participation in Houston Restaurant Weeks.
My husband has attended wine tastings at Ciao Bello in the past and has liked their food offerings. It was my first time to visit this particular restaurant and I really liked the appearance and décor. The food I was to discover is delicious!
The large piece of art above an alcove 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 be fairly priced with a good assortment of offerings.
Pictured above is a bread basket brought to each table. Accompanying it is a flavorful olive oil dipping sauce. The breads were delicious and my husband was particularly fond of the grissini…the long skinny bread sticks.
This salad pictured above 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 in order to enjoy this flavorful salad. It consists of arugula and radicchio greens with fresh blueberries and shaved grana padano cheese. Croutons are added and it is dressed with a preserved lemon vinaigrette.
The Crispy Calamari is accompanied with charred tomatoes plus a charred tomato vinaigrette and basil pesto. This was a nice change from the usual but often good marinara sauces that generally accompany fried calamari in so many other places. The plate is beautifully presented as are all of their other offerings.
The Osso Bucco Ravioli is delicious. What is used in making this creation is 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 slowly cook and develop those rich flavors. 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 totally do it justice. It is a fantastic dish using scallopini of chicken, wild mushrooms, artichoke hearts and penne pasta with a rich 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!
We were seated in this portion of the dining room facing out to the larger portion of the room with high ceilings. It gave us a wonderful view of the entire room. Wine storage was on both sides of this room as well as in other areas of the restaurant. I have a feeling that many corks are popped each and every day!
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.
After we finished our lunch I walked through the adjacent covered patio area. It is a pretty room and is used for many different types of functions. The photo at the top of this page was taken in 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.
Foodies and those just looking to get bargains when dining or those who wish to explore new restaurants can feel really 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 is stretched and ultimately helps many hungry people. As an example each $3 given to them turns into 9 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. Returning there will be a pleasure eagerly anticipated in future days which lie ahead.