Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ciao Vito, from another perspective

2203 NE Alberta Street
Happy Hour: 4 - 8 PM

I don't have the same love for Ciao Vito as my co-blogger, but I did really enjoy hitting up their happy hour last week when out celebrating. She, of course, loves the place and has been back for several special occasions. I think I might be back, but I might stick to happy hour just because it lasts four long hours and can easily turn into dinner without much effort.

We were going to be a big group this time, and having never been there to scope out the place, I figured I'd better give them a call ahead of time. The man on the phone didn't seem to think that getting a table during happy hour would be a problem but put us down for an official reservation (something that isn't usually done during happy hour) due to our large size. There were over a dozen of us at one point, so I'm so glad that he did. And the nicest thing was that they actually set up two tables. One inside and one out. It has been an unusual summer and the sun didn't make its way out until late in the afternoon. We spoke about this on the phone but I really didn't expect such special treatment. They didn't even know it was my birthday. Not until I walked in wearing my birthday sash, that is. (Yeah, that's right. A sash! It's not just mine. We share it. It's been around for just a year but is logging the miles and a whole list of great stories.)

We decided to go with the table inside to avoid the setting sun. (Yes, it's beautiful...but it can really irritate the eyes.) The server was quick to great us, making sure that we had both the dinner menu and plenty of happy hour menus.

I knew that a glass of red wine would go well with just about anything else on the menu, and so that it was I ordered. I have been hitting quite a few of the area wineries (with plans for more in the near future) and still can't decide what my favorites are. This one was great and made for the perfect complement to my meal. I'm assuming that they change what they are pouring during happy hour as it comes with a discounted price, but can't be sure.

For dinner, I selected the risotto fritters. There were four (which seems appropriate for happy hour) and were served atop a pesto sauce. They were nearly identical to the fried meatballs that were ordered with much greater frequency at the table. Thankfully, I was with people I trusted as they could have easily switched out one for the other. The fritters had a golden crust but were soft and scrumptious on the inside. The pesto sauce didn't add too much to the dish but did add to the overall presentation. I also added a few bites of the pasta (just a spaghetti pomodoro) that my boyfriend ordered. They went quite well together.

To accompany my dinner, I ordered the green salad. It was simple yet tasty with a vinaigrette dressing. It could have used a few more vegetables for crunch and color, but it seems pretty typical to go simple at Italian places (especially considering the price).

We also had bread and olives to start. The bread was served to all at the table. The olives were ordered by friends who were happy to share with the birthday girl. The bread came with olive oil and a dip that seemed as though it was made out of white beans. It had the consistency of hummus but not the flavor. The bread itself was pleasing but went well with all the rest.

I'm glad that I selected Ciao Vito for happy hour number two on my birthday night of happy hours. It was a perfect was to spend time with friends. I know I'll be back again soon and I might just splurge and make it for dinner.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Exceeds
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


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