D and I have been on a low-carb diet following a two-week visit to the folks back home in England and gigantic meals throughout the stay there. Every new house meant another lunch or dinner, or even brunch, sometimes all three in the same day. This, of course, led to expanding waistlines and ultimately – the diet.

We’ve been doing really well until our visit to this month’s restaurant of the month, the very lovely ‘Ciao Bella’, a relatively new Italian on the edge of the Barrio del Carmen.

It’s a lovely room – you reach it through a long narrow bar with the kitchen to the left – into a large airy space. There were quite a few diners already eating at the white linen and red polka dot tables when we arrived for our 22.00h reservation, including a large group of ladies who seemed to be having a great time. We took our places at our table and were welcomed by Luca, the very amiable co-owner from Rome, who asked us if we minded if he chose our meal for us. “We pride ourselves in having what we believe is the best Italian restaurant in Valencia, the best ingredients and the most authentic pizza!”

Whilst we waited for the food to arrive, Luca served us a good Ribera del Duero, Valdimójenes Tempranillo 2014, very drinkable and great price/quality.

We elected to share each dish and our first one was Caponata (6€, or 8€ large) a kind of ratatouille made with olives, tomato, celery and aubergine and served with homemade focaccia for dipping. Lots of it and delicious. This was followed by Antipasti Siciliana (8€). Three separate items – balls of ragout- stuffed rice, breadcrumbed and deep- fried, potato and basil croquettes and ‘chips’ made from chickpea our. They were all good, but for D and I, the rice balls were the stars of this antipasti.

Luca chose two main courses for us to share. Linguine con frutti di mare (14€), the freshest of ingredients and full of langoustine, king prawn, prawns, mussels and clams in a light tomato sauce. We loved it! Our main course was pizza (8-10€), they reckon they have the ‘Magi of the pizza’ working with them at Ciao Bella, and judged from the perspective of this one, they are right. A light, thin and crisp wholemeal our base covered with tomato sauce, green olives, mushrooms and a rich chorizo, liberally covered in big parmesan shavings. There was so much food that we really didn’t think we were going to be able to finish it all, but it was so good, we just had to!

People were still arriving at around 23.20h; obviously regulars who come for the pizza, each of the party of five had a different pizza, and were still eating as we left.

In the interests of you the readers and the article, we finished with Ciao Bella’s version of a Tiramisu (4.50€), served in a glass, a lovely light end to a great dinner. A little glass of homemade Limoncello was a great digestif, for our walk home. Everything cooked here is made to order. And the diet? Well, we just have to start again!

Tim Birch

Ciao Bella 
C/ Corona, 8
Tel: 96 105 65 81
Zona Carmen
Open Monday – Tuesday, Thursday – Sunday
12:00h – 16:00h, 19.30h – 24.00h Closed Wednesday
Menú del día (including drink): 11.50€ Meat and sh dishes: 16€ – 18€
Small selection of Spanish and Italian wines: 14€ – 40€

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