When Giuseppe "Joe" Scalzo opened Ciao Bella in 2009, he was intent on bringing an authentic culinary adventure to diners.
Now celebrating the Italian ristorante/pizzeria/wine bar's fourth anniversary, Scalzo is still offering quality recipes and a warm, welcoming setting to patrons.
"What I would love to do is to keep showing (guests) the innovations in Italian cuisine," said Scalzo. His aim is to consistently welcome patrons into an eatery whose atmosphere is similar to dining in the quaint cafes and eateries of Italy.
Scalzo grew up in Calabria, Italy and spent years as owner and manager of various noted Italian restaurants in Chicago.
At Schererville's Ciao Bella, translated "Hello Beautiful," he said his goal was to create the atmosphere of cozy trattorias he remembers visiting in Italy but to give it more of an upscale, contemporary feel.
The restaurant's chef Luis Hernandez honed his cooking skills while working at restaurants in Chicago and began to perfect his Italian cuisine talents after meeting and working with Scalzo at his Windy City eateries.
"He's been working with me since he was 16," Scalzo said.
At Ciao Bella, chef Hernandez creates a variety of staple and specialty dishes. The menu features everything from an array of appetizers, salads, soups and sides to various pastas, pannini, seafood, chicken, and veal entrees to gourmet pizzas.
Scalzo said he expanded the eatery last year. He added a banquet room and extended the bar area.
"It was very important to expand the restaurant because we kept getting more and more people coming in," Scalzo said about the restaurant's popularity in the community.
Scalzo is looking forward to celebrating Ciao Bella's fourth anniversary. "We're going to have a wild game dinner on Nov. 12 to celebrate," he said.
At the restaurant, Scalzo also presents live entertainment on the weekends, occasional cooking demonstrations by the chef and various wine dinners.Ciao Bella recently won an award of excellence from industry magazine Wine Spectator.
Diners hungry for a taste of authentic Italian cuisine will enjoy lingering over the delicious recipes offered at the restaurant.
Among popular dishes at Ciao Bella are Bruschetta ($9); Olive all' Ascolana ($6), which are stuffed crispy fried jumbo green olives; pasta dishes such as Linguini di Mare ($16), featuring thin flat pasta with various seafood; Lasagna della Casa ($15); Pollo Alla Romana ($14) and assorted gourmet pizzas ($12 to $13 for a 12" size).
Although guests may dine from the regular menu at the bar, Scalzo said he's planning to offer a special bar menu soon with tapas-style dishes.
FYI: Ciao Bella, is at 1514 U.S. 41, Schererville. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. Call (219) 322-6800 or visit ciaobellaonline.com