ciao bella / la mesa | san diego, ca
I got a Groupon for Ciao Bella awhile ago – they had a good deal going and I decided to purchase 2 Groupons so Jake and I could take the kids out for a nice meal. Ciao Bella is definitely a place I’d like to visit again!
Ciao Bella doesn’t look like much from the outside. It’s in a little strip mall next to 7-11 and a gas station in La Mesa. But once you step inside you’re treated to a place that looks kind of like a funky coffee shop. There’s art work and drapes all over the place and a dance floor for the nights they host dancing (tango, swing, live music, etc.). I was even impressed that the bathroom got the fancy treatment!
We visited Ciao Bella on a quiet evening after any events were done and it was nice to just sit and relax with the kids.
We spoiled the kids a bit and let them get fancy drinks. They got Italian sodas with a mixture of flavors. Our waitress (and the proprietor) was pretty patient with the kids – they couldn’t decide what they wanted and then decided they wanted mix flavors – and she was totally cool with that.
It had been a little chilly that evening and Jake and I both got hot tea for ourselves – berry flavored. I loved the presentation of the tea in a tall, clear glass and the loose tea in a strainer bag. It was also really tasty, too.
It’s hard to resist the lure of Garlic Cheese Bread ($4.95) and this bread made it worthwhile. Good amount of garlic and cheese with crispy bread. It almost melted in my mouth it was so good.
I got the Penne alle Noci ($9.95) – a dish with penne (though, this looks like rigatoni to me, but pasta is pasta) and walnuts in a white sauce. I really liked this dish – I haven’t ever had a pasta dish with just walnuts before but it was pretty tasty. I thought it could have used maybe a touch more sauce. But it was a good balance of flavors with the sauce and crunchy walnuts. Different, but good!
One of the kids got Spaghetti Genovesi ($13.95) – pesto with shrimp. She didn’t like the pesto though, she thought it was too strong, but she did eat all of the shrimp. Jake snagged one for me and it was a pretty tasty shrimp. I personally love pesto and never think it’s spicy, but kids tend to think that strong garlic taste is too spicy (or anyone who isn’t a lover of garlic like I am – the more garlic the better!).
Another of the kids got lasagna. I can’t say much about this dish because I don’t remember if I tried it, but it looks good, doesn’t it?
Jake got the Penne Arrabiate ($11.95) – a mixture of sausage and bacon (it also comes with olives but he asked for no olives) in a spicy marinara sauce. He liked the flavors of the dish but he said in the end it was too spicy for him to continue eating.
My only other complaint is that I wish they had more child/kid’s menu items – though I will say that this isn’t a usual complaint for me! There was really only one listed on the menu – for spaghetti with cheese and butter or marinara sauce.
There were a few other dishes I would really like to come back and try, such as the Gnocchi Sorrentina ($11.95) – homemade gnocchi in a marinara sauce with mozzarella and basil or the Penne alla San Diego ($13.95) – saute mushrooms and sasusage in a creamy saffron sauce topped with a gorgonzola sauce. Yes, I think we’ll be back but with a budget in mind for next time!
On our way out we stopped to pet the puppy outside. Very cute and friendly dog!
5263 Baltimore Drive
La Mesa, CA. 91942