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PAID ADVERTISEMENT Ciao Bella contest winner gets a private lesson in fine dining with expert wine pairings What’s better than enjoying fivestar dining paired with exclusive wines? Winning the private dinner experience at Ciao Bella in Schererville with owner Joe Scalzo. Dee Pratscher of Thornton, Illinois, was the lucky winner of the Ciao Bella Facebook contest for the evening for her and three guests. According to Scalzo, entrants were required to dine at Ciao Bella any Monday through Thursday in October. They were asked to like and check in at Ciao Bella on Facebook, like the establishment on Instagram, and post a photo of their dining experience with the hashtag #dinewithjoe. Scalzo said Pratscher was selected because she followed the contest directions correctly and had the most likes on her photos. Pratscher, a nurse and mom of three, was pleased. “How fantastic! This was a delicious meal, and I learned a lot about how to pair wines with each course,” she said. “I’m a ‘foodie’ but I’m more into the wine here. I’m a regular customer because Ciao Bella has the best wine selection in the Region.” Pratscher also likes Ciao Bella’s specialty mixed drinks, with the Cucumber Mint Martini her favorite. Pratscher’s guests were Bryan Willmer of Frankfort, Illinois, and Jennifer Easterday and Michele Taylor, both of Schererville. All four have been friends since their days recipe. An Alìe Rose by Frescobaldi together at Thornton Fractional North complemented the first course. Frescobaldi, the master winemaker for High School in Calumet City. the pope, began making wine in the 1400s. A salad of tender baby spinach, sweet pear slices, gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes and roasted candied walnuts was splashed with the house Chianti Vinaigrette dressing. A Massovivo Vermentino Tuscan white by Frescobaldi made the perfect pairing. Pratscher is a vegan, so Scalzo had The group dined on the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving and was a Capellini Primavera dish prepared greeted at the door by Scalzo and for her. The entrée included sautéed vegetables with garlic and white wine restaurant manager, Salvador Juarez. “I love when other people enjoy over capellini, accompanied by grilled wine and food pairings. It’s truly an veggies with a balsamic glaze. The other diners enjoyed Chicken art,” said Scalzo. “People who want a Chicago-caliber fine dining experience Saltimbocca, a chicken breast topped with authentic Italian food come to with a sweet marsala reduction and served over a warm bed of rich and Ciao Bella.” Scalzo and his family are from creamy Mushroom Risotto with garlic Calabria. He learned to cook in Italy and truffle oil. The entrees were matched with and gained experience entertaining guests in Positano, on the Amalfi a Nipozzano Chianti Rufina, made Coast, where he and some friends with the grape grown in Tuscany. The arranged activities, including wine server, Sam Zivanovic, decanted the chianti into a carafe to “give it life tastings, for tourists. The four-course meal was paired “We’re firm believers that wine is a with wines from Scalzo’s special living thing and needs to be aerated cabinet, which are not on the to bring out the flavor, aroma and tannins,” Scalzo explained. “Tannins restaurant’s wine list. The meal commenced with a are the ‘legs’ or viscosity of the wine.” Dessert featured individual bruschetta appetizer, along with Salsiccia Calabrese, seasoned slices of servings of Crema Catalana, or crème sausage made from Scalzo’s mother’s brûlée, garnished with fresh berries and a sprig of mint. A single, extralarge raspberry floated in a champagne flute of the accompanying Lady Lola Moscato Pinot Grigio dessert wine. As part of Ciao Bella’s efforts to do something new, Scalzo plans to add a “bourbon wall” and serve flights of bourbon at various price points, including rare bourbon. The restaurant is running a holiday promotion through December, where those who purchase a $100 gift card will receive a free $20 gift card. Scalzo said holiday parties are booking quickly, and holiday catering is available. In addition, the Ciao Bella will be open until 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and will feature a special New Year’s Eve menu. Easterday, like the other guests, “It’s so nice to host people who was grateful that Pratscher invited truly enjoy food, wine and a warm, her to the meal. “This was a delicious welcoming atmosphere,” noted Scalzo. dinner, and I’m so thankful to Dee for “I want people to feel like part of the including me,” she said. “Dining at family when they come to Ciao Bella.” Ciao Bella is always a wonderful time, Ciao Bella is at 1514 U.S. Hwy. 41, and my family comes here for every Schererville. Call 219-322-6800 or visit special occasion.” ciaobellaonline.com.