For Great Italian, Say Ciao Bella
There’s a good reason that Memphians have loved Ciao Bella for years. The casual East Memphis restaurant serves great Italian food. They also are great at curing extreme pasta cravings (like the one I had a few nights ago).
We started with one of Ciao Bella’s appetizer specials – seared scallops with blood oranges.
Both scallops and blood oranges are on my shortlist of favorite foods, and these were excellent. They came dressed with a tangy, fruity sauce that complimented both. I’m pretty sure this isn’t on the regular menu, but it should be.
Speaking of the regular menu, it’s pretty impressive. There are pizzas, pastas, Italian-inspired entrees and plenty of seafood.
I couldn’t decide between the pasta and seafood, so I went with the lobster ravioli ($18).
The orange and white striped pasta was much spicier than I thought it would be. I think part of the spice came from the roasted red pepper cream sauce, but the pasta definitely had some flavor on its own.The raviolis were stuffed with chunks of lobster. It wasn’t some lobster mash, either – there were big, visible hunks of meat.
Atmospherically, Ciao Bella is cozy and intimate in a way that makes you forget that you’re in a strip mall. The lights are dim, and when I was there for week day dinner, there were plenty of couples on dates. It’s casual enough for a regular dinner but special enough for an important dinner.
The restaurant is a also larger than it seems from the outside. There’s plenty of seating in the dining room, bar and on the twinkle-lit patio.
(In the interest of full disclosure, Ciao Bella comped my meal. While it was very nice of them to do so, it had no bearing on my review. All of the opinions expressed above are my own.)