5137 25th Ave Ne
Seattle, WA 98105-4120

Ciao Bella

Neighborhoods: University District
Cuisine: Italian

Ciao Bella is a Italian restaurant where most Menuism users came for a romantic date, paid between $10 and $25, and tipped more than 18%.

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Brian_Davis photo


 Seattle, WA

Cozy and warm

Ciao Bella is one of those little neighborhood Italian restaurants that attracts and deserves a cult following. Tucked away on the north side of 45th, my wife and I must have driven by a thousand times without even noticing it was there. And, of course, once we did discover it existed, we assumed by its appearance and location that it was too expensive for our student budget.

We were wrong.

Ciao Bella’s food is not only great, it’s also easy on the wallet. A five star meal of salmon ravioli, cioppino and crème brûlée only set the two of us back $40. The total was $45 after factoring in a delicious Moretti Birra la Rossa red double bock. I was leaning toward a lighter lager, but our waiter politely insisted I try the heavier, more German-tasting la Rossa. When he brought it to the table, he assured me that, if it tasted anything less than perfect, it was, of course, free of charge. That’s service.

Which brings me to the waitstaff. The waiters are warm, accomodating and honest. It appeared as though only two were taking orders and serving, but somehow they seemed to manage a full restaurant with ease. Regulars were greeted with lively, relaxed, familiar conversation. Newcomers received a kind smile and light chatter.

We were quickly seated outside by the fountain, our (delicious!) bread and olive oil were continually refilled and the waiters were attentive and polite without being intrusive. They seemed to know that I wanted something before I did.

Our waiter also never hesitated to make a recommendation and never led us astray. When my wife asked if pasta came with the cioppino, he noted that it did not and that, unfortunately, the portion was probably too small for “hungry young people”. He smiled, though, and told her it would be no problem for the chef to serve the cioppino over spaghetti… in fact, he said he preferred it that way, too. No extra charge for what wound up being a pretty large portion of pasta and seafood.

The wine list looked broad, if not deep, with a good sampling of affordable and pricey wines. The food selection wasn’t huge, but every dish was mouthwatering. And, of course, the service was spectacular. I can’t wait to go back.

A reviewer elsewhere had wondered whether the proximity to 45th would make outdoor dining noisy. I must admit that I didn’t notice anything but the rare car horn. The relative silence is due primarily to the hedge between the dining area and the street and the fountain situated in the center of the dining area.

Salmon Ravioli

The best ravioli I’ve ever eaten. I don’t know why I ordered this dish, since I’ve gotten tired of the various poor attempts at mating good seafood with ravioli. So many restaurants in the Seattle area try this, most likely just for the novelty, and so many get it wrong.

This dish, although a little too small for me (I’ve got a monster appetite), was rich and flavorful, without masking the natural savor of the fish itself. It was served with julienned vegetables and drizzled with a cream sauce.

I couldn’t keep my wife from stealing off my plate. If I could give a dish six stars, this would deserve it.


Cioppino usually suffers from being either:

a) too much tomato

b) too much wine

c) too much spice

This dish, though, was just the right proportions of each, complementing the seafood perfectly. As I mentioned above, our waiter offered to serve this over spaghetti, which is a preparation I would heartily recommend. The mussels, clams and calamari were cooked to perfection.

My wife kept trying to stave off my attempts at theft. Finally, she was too full and I polished off the rest with gusto.

Crème brûlée

Rich and perfect in every way. This is just how I like my crème brûlée. For all you spaniards, there’s no lemon or cinnamon in this, just a delicate custard and a perfectly carmelized topping.

Sun-Thu 05:00PM - 10:00PM
Fri-Sat 05:00PM - 10:30PM
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Ciao Bella  Restaurant Reviews

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Ciao Bella is located near the cities of Vancouver, Capitol Hill, Madrona, Madison Park, and Broken Arrow.
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