Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ciao Bella

Ciao Bella
3501 Minnesota Drive
Bloomington, MN 55435

According to their website Ciao Bella is a 'contemporary Italian restaurant', 'dramatic, comfortable, welcoming and delicious.' I would agree with most of that. Technically located in Bloomington, this on the outskirt of Edina dining and drink establishment has been around for over a decade. The inside is sleek and classy, dimly lit and very intimate. There is also a small bar area with large glass doors that open all the way up to the reveal the patio and the nice weather the 2 months of the year Minnesota has it. Ciao Bella is owned by the same peeps as Bacio of Plymouth and Zelo of Minneapolis.

They have a lunch and dinner menu as well as fresh fish, dessert and wine. The wine list is fairly extensive and I saw a few that I like (Smoking Loon cabernet sauvignon and the Robert Modavi pinot noir). On our most recent visit we just went for a short lunch. On my usual visit I most often sit on the patio and enjoy a beer or two.

The salads my sister and I chose for lunch were good, but nothing super special. The Ciao Baby feature organic greens, goat cheese and pine nuts tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Basic, yet refreshing. My sister had wished there were a few more dimensions to the salad. As a side it would be great, as a lunch entree I would suggest something a little more interesting.

I went with the small chopped salad which included crispy prosciutto, chicken, tomato, onion and blue cheese crumbles with a spicy-sweet dressing. I did highly enjoy the dressing, a bit different from your average chopped salad dressing. The rest of the salad I could take of leave. The tomatoes were few and the ones I did find were at the bottom of the bowl and smushed. The crispy prosciutto looks almost like bacon bits and not the thinly sliced salty goodness I was expecting. Lastly, the chicken appeared to be boiled or something. It was not grilled, just wilty and almost too pink. I ate it though and I'm still here, so guess it was okay. The other thing I noticed is my friend who ordered the large chopped salad had a few more additions including fresh parmesian cheese on top. Her's looked better than mine, so maybe I was just unlucky.

Although Ciao Bella and the Cheesecake Factory are totally different dining experiences I would rather go to the Cheesecake Factory for their cobb salad than do another chopped salad at Ciao. For less than $8.50 (the amount for a small salad at Ciao) you get a huge 'lunch sized' portion at Cheesecake Factory and it has always been crispy and satisfying. While I do enjoy Ciao Bella for the atmosphere and wonderful patio, I will most likely pass on dining there anytime in the near future. In Ciao's defense many of my co-workers swear by this place. Plus, some of the menu items intregue me like the chicken and wild mushroom risotto does sound delicious. Nothing against you Ciao, but high class restuarant establishment does not always mean out of this world food.


1 comment:

Deb Swenson said...

I had lunch there recently and was rather disappointed. The place was empty at opening, yet we waited over 5 minutes to be seated because the hostess was on the phone talking and staring at us and there seemed to be no one else capable of seating us. I was with my 90 year old Aunt, so that didn't help.
The service was great, but I ordered the Cio salad and was very disappointed to find browned romain, a lack of dressing, few pieces of goat cheese and overly toasted pinenuts.
I had the chicken fettucine, which was uneventful and lacking seasoning...thank god for the parmesean I requested.
My aunt had the filet sandwich with fries and both came out positively ICE COLD. The others had marginal pasta dishes, but the brussel sprouts roasted in honey and almonds and the bread at table are worth the trip. Our tab was $155.00 prior to tip, so a pretty penny for bread and cabbage.