Ciao Bella

Plain and simple pasta.

703 Denman, Vancouver, BC.



This Italian restaurant on the southwest corner of Denman and Alberni is probably best known for its 50% off pasta nights (Monday and Tuesday)…. and maybe that’s all  it’s good for. This place is always full and I’m not sure why. The food is okay – but it’s just that. Ciao Bella is not the best deal in the world nor is the food outstanding in any way.

The restaurant is a warm comfortable room draped in burgundy with a piano tinkling in the corner. But the decor would lead the diner to believe they are in for a special treat – they are not. Ciao Bella has decent food and the best part of the whole dining experience is by far the service. The entire staff is welcoming, helpful, charming, and polite. Every last one of them a consummate professional. I think that’s why I was tricked into giving Ciaao Bella’s mediocre food a second try. As soon as the Lobster Bisque came out I was reminded why I haven’t been to Ciao Bella in years. The skin atop the soup was a turn off as was the non-existant lobster. Le sigh. The second course of my four course meal was the mushrooms and gorgonzola – or so the menu would have me believe. There was no way that was gorgonzola. I’m gonna have to say it was ranch dressing mixed with margarine and a generous dose of salt.

My mom tried to defend the food saying that the seafood linguine was good – and I admit that it did have generous portions of prawns, calamari, and salmon. it was tossed with a creamy rose sauce. (pictured at he top of the post).

My husband did practically inhale his pesto penne – so no complaints there.

And my veal and spinach cannelloni was tasty and filling (plus, it has 3 types of cheese! Hurrah!).

But I think I could have made all those dishes at home just as well for a fraction of the price. And let me tell you – I ain’t no super chef. The portions are decent, the prices are not unreasonable (3 courses $20, 4 courses $30 – many of the pasta dishes are in the $15 range), and the service is outstanding – but I’m not wowed by the food at Ciao Bella. It will be a LONG time before I go back. I think the mediocre kicker was the the waiter calling the espresso an “expresso” at the end of the evening. I know it’s not a big deal but my husband and I gave each other ‘The Look’. An italian restaurant should really get their coffee pronunciation down.

Whatever, this place ain’t ultra classy … it’s regular fine.

Make a reservation, go on a half price night, don’t get your hopes up.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Bonus: Heated Patio

Double Bonus: Parking available around back


Perfect Pairing:

Wintersleep – s/t from 2003


Justin Nozuka – you i wind land and sea

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