Dining Out review: Ciao Ciao in Blackpool: The incredible food is right at the heart of the experience
Sat around a mile or so away from the hustle and bustle of Blackpool town centre lies Ciao Ciao, a small Italian restaurant nestled amongst a parade of shops which includes a dry cleaner, hair salon, dentist, and Chinese takeaway.
There could not be a more humble setting – and yet people travelling to the resort from around the country are said to stop off at the family-run Italian restaurant to complete their holidays.
Described by fans as a ‘hidden’ gem and the resort’s ‘best restaurant’, Ciao Ciao has an exceptional reputation and we were excited to try it for ourselves at the weekend.
We – the wife and I – arrived for our meal at 7pm on Sunday after enjoying a drink at a nearby micropub – with the Devonshire Arms a stone’s throw away too – and were instantly offered a choice of three tables by a smiling waitress who then showed us to the one of our choice.
She brought the menu, which is relatively small but full of choices, and the wine list, which is smaller and could be bigger, and kept checking back to see if we were ready to order – in a friendly and not at all pushy manner.
We were also given a free platter of olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and carrot sticks, with dips.
For starter, the missus had alette di pollo (£6.50) – fresh chicken wings in a homemade barbecue sauce – while I had funghi stilton (£7.50) – mushrooms in a stilton sauce – from the specials board.
My dish was so good I can almost taste it three days later. It was perfectly cooked, full of flavour, and the portion size was perfect.
Even though the restaurant was relatively busy, we were not rushed and even gratefully accepted an offer to leave some time between our starter and mains so we could enjoy our wine – a glass of house merlot (£4) and pinot grigio blush (£4) – and some conversation.
One thing we both noticed as we were sat at our cosy table, which was tucked away under some glass shelves, was how clean they were. There wasn’t a speck of dust and the toilet was spotless too.
For mains, the better half had cannelloni with ricotta and spinach (£8.50), while I had a 12 inch pollo dolce pizza (£9.50) – with homemade barbecue sauce, mozzarella, chicken, smoked bacon, and sweetcorn.
The bubbling cannelloni was the best the wife has ever tasted and she couldn’t stop talking about nice it was.
I found the star anise flavour in the pizza’s barbecue sauce to be quite powerful but it actually complemented the dish and I polished the entire pizza off.
The dough was well cooked and the ingredients all tasted fresh.
To end a perfect night, the wife had an Eton mess for dessert and I had a creme brulee (£5 each). I’m not a sweets man but I enjoyed my pudding, while she devoured hers and sang its praises for long after.
The bill came to an extremely reasonable £48 and we simply cannot wait to eat there again.
Final rating: 4.5 out of five
The incredible food was rightly at the heart of the experience but the service was friendly, the setting intimate and clean, and price very reasonable.
A bigger wine list and more variation on the specials board would take Ciao Ciao from great to outstanding.
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