Date ‘Night’ in Chelsea

Time and money are often the uninvited guests at the table on date night.  One way to work around both is to have lunchtime dates or find hidden gems.  

Ciao Pizza and Pasta is my new found (thanks to Richard of The Passionate Foodie) casual lunch with friends, pizza out with the kids, date night/lunch date spot. 

This cute little restaurant is putting out some of the best pizzas, house made pasta dishes, and panninis in the area and from the outside you would never guess it. This Ristorante is disguised as a neighborhood pizza joint. Only those who enter know its secrets.

The menu is small but not so small that you feel restricted. A selection of pastas made in house are listed on the chalkboard menu alongside pizzas and paninis. The paninis are served with addictively delicous homemade potato chips. On an easel by the counter (which I like to call the “chef’s table”) are a daily special appetizer.  

There are two small counters so it is definitely cozy. We arrived just when they opened so there were plenty of places to sit. In the evening it may get crowded. I would call ahead and ask if there are seats free. The owner, Edson, is a pleasure to talk to. 

We started with the special appetizer. The shrimp bruschetta was on this pillowy bread that had a nice soft chew to it. Loaded with large shrimp, and sitting in the perfect little puddle of garlicy sauce, I find myself daydreaming about it.  The shrimp bruschetta was a generous portion that we shared three ways.

Next we had the Bolognese. It isn’t your typical heavy Bolognese. This one is lighter but creamy and is full of flavour thanks to the chorizo and crispy proscuitto garnish. The campanelle pasta is incredible with this sauce, as the curled ruffled edges hold in the right amount of sauce for each bite.

The fettuccine was my favourite by a narrow margin just because the pasta itself was so flavourful and expertly cooked. This porcini fettuccine is made with wood fire roasted mushrooms, truffle butter (the real stuff) and just the right amount of Parmigiano Reggiano.

 Next, we sampled the gnocchetti. These miniature gnocchi were almost like tightly wound shells that curled into themselves.  They were served with a generously meaty red wine braised short rib and vegetable sauce. 

I loved each dish and would go back for each one individually, but I recommend getting one each with your date or your friends and trying them all. The portions are generous and these are leftovers you will fight over.  Pastas range from $12-$18.

As for the pizza, the pizza is perfection especially if you want a break from that NY or ‘not quite NY’ style pie.

This is the soppresseta piza which is topped with garlic confit (that is as soft and sweet as butter), soppresseta, and hot peppers.  I brought the kids home a margherita pizza that was a real treat! Oddly enough, on our trip to Japan, the kids were introduced to Neapolitan pizza and fell in love. 

They were thrilled to find something similar back home. The pizza reheated perfectly in the toaster oven for a few minutes at 450 degrees Farenheit.

Here is the pizza we had in Tokyo at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. I’d show you the margherita pizza from Ciao Pizza & Pasta, but it was devoured before I could grab my camera. You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you they were very similar.

Next time I’ll need to go with more people so we can try more because the paninis they were making for to go orders looked fantastic and here are the potato chips that we all enjoyed. Made in house and completely delectable with a nice spice and saltiness as well as a really good potato flavour.

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