For the past nine years that Ciao Bella has been in Northwest Indiana, restaurant owner Giuseppe "Joe" Scalzo has been offering a varied mix of the flavors of Italy as well as a celebration of the rich Italian culture and lifestyle.
"People thought I was crazy opening up after a recession but it's been great," said Scalzo. Ciao Bella, an Italian ristorante/pizzeria and wine bar, opened in 2009, to offer an authentic culinary journey to diners.
"What we want to do is keep offering something different," Scalzo said. "I'm trying to show people more of the Italian and Mediterranean lifestyle here. That's what it's all about," he said.
The owner said there's always been a focus on fresh ingredients and the dishes are prepared with "love and care." Featured at Schererville's Ciao Bella are various dishes from pastas and pizzas to meat, seafood and vegetable specialties and more.
"We're offering a true taste of Italy," Scalzo said, adding that the cuisine featured at Ciao Bella is done trattoria-style and also highlights the different regions of Italy.
To celebrate Ciao Bella's ninth anniversary, the Anniversary Dinner event on Nov. 8 will feature a Great Gatsby theme.
"We'll have five courses," Scalzo said. Among dishes scheduled to be served for the anniversary dinner will be Smoked Salmon Bruschetta; Short Rib Ravioli; N.Y. Strip Steak and Roasted Potatoes with a Puttanesca Sauce, a Chocolate Berry Parfait and more. All courses will be served with wine.
"What I would love to do is to keep showing (guests) the innovations in Italian cuisine," said Scalzo, during a past interview. His aim is to consistently welcome patrons into an eatery which has an atmosphere similar to dining in the quaint cafes and eateries of Italy.
In addition to presenting quality cuisine, Scalzo wants to spread the conviviality of the Italian culture and does so through various events and special dinners presented at the eatery.
Scalzo, who is a native of Calabria, Italy, said Ciao Bella, translated "Hello Beautiful," was also meant to be akin to the neighborhood restaurants found in Italy.
Ciao Bella's executive chef Luis Hernandez has been at the helm of the eatery since the beginning and also worked with Scalzo in Chicago when the owner had various restaurants in the city.
"We work together as a team," Scalzo said, about Hernandez who presides over the eatery's regular menu as well as the menu for special dinners. The food is a combination of Hernandez' ideas and Scalzo's family recipes.
Scalzo, who now lives in the Region, said he wants to cater to local diners.
"I like to take care of the people that live in this area," he said, adding it's important to give diners a quality experience that's "warm and welcoming."
Ciao Bella also features a diverse collection of wines and other cocktails.
In addition to the Anniversary Dinner event, the restaurant regularly presents Cooking Demos with food and wine pairings, Joe's Wine Night, Specialty Wine Dinners, other Themed Dinners and an annual Academy Awards Watching Event and Dinner.
"I always wanted to give people different things to do," Scalzo said. Since the beginning, Scalzo said he always had it in mind to present various entertaining events for diners throughout the year.
Catering is available at the restaurant and delivery is also offered through Uber Eats and Grub Hub.
For more information on Ciao Bella, call 219-322-6800 or visit ciaobellaonline.com.