food and wineIssue 22

Restaurant Guide: Ciao Bella


By Michele Laverty

If you are searching for local, fresh Italian food in Modesto, look no further than Ciao Bella. This restaurant brings fine dining to Modesto’s Century Center.

Ciao Bella’s story begins with chef and owner Chau Nguyen. Chau started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher at the age of 14. He fell in love with the industry and discovered his passion for cooking. After years of working in many different restaurant positions, he became a self-taught chef and aspired to open his own business.

Ciao Bella first opened in downtown Modesto in 2003. When the restaurant closed in 2009, Chau took a break from the industry but eventually was drawn back in. In October of 2014, Ciao Bella reopened in Century Center still using all of Chau’s original recipes.

CHMay_48-2Some of their most popular dishes would be their signature stuffed calamari and seafood pasta. The filet mignon and ribeye steak are also some diner favorites. They also run daily fresh fish specials such as halibut, petrale sole, and Chilean sea bass to name a few. Chau is extremely particular about the freshness and quality of all the seafood served and people are always impressed at what a difference it makes!

Something that makes Ciao Bella’s food unique is that everything is made from scratch and made to order. Chau’s passion for cooking and attentiveness to details such as quality and freshness of ingredients really shines through. Something unique about Ciao Bella’s atmosphere is the cozy and intimate space – it is great for a date night out or a family gathering. Because of the smaller location, they are able to better serve and get to know their guests.

Ciao Bella is extremely family-oriented and that reflects in their service. Many regulars come in a few times per week and they know them all by name. Sometimes Ciao Bella will even make sure to run their favorite specials on the days they come in.

Ciao Bella Sign(1)-2They are now featuring Ten Dollar Tuesday– every Tuesday night they offer four to five featured wines at only $10 per bottle.

Reservations are strongly recommended, as space fills quickly in this cozy location.

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