Ciao Bella’s flair for Italian fare

  • One major special that is not necessarily Italian, but universal, is the “famous” pork chop

If you have a desire for authentic Italian cuisine, Juan Cortazar, his wife, Marisol, and her dad, Arturo Perez, say look no further than Ciao Bella Ristorante Italiano.

In business for the past two years at its Collier Boulevard niche in Heritage Plaza opposite Publix, the restaurant takes diners on a regional journey of Italy, according to Perez.

Expect, then, Chicken Siciliano, Tuscan soup, Gnocci Napolitano, or featured items in this article such as Carpaccio (very thin light filet mignon slices, chilled and served with arugula salad, reggiano cheese, capers and olive oil), or shrimp and scallops Mediterranean Italian-style, sautéed with fresh tomatoes and arugula served over angel hair pasta).

Of course, there are dozens more choices, all available at the restaurant’s website.

The signature pork chop dish is stuffed with proscuitto and mozzarella cheese, and finished with mushrooms, a "special" sauce and some garnish.

One major special that is not necessarily Italian, but universal, is the “famous” pork chop, stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella cheese and finished with mushroom sauce. It’s a “special” sauce, says Juan Cortazar, and he offers no further details. But, he says, home chefs should never shy of experimenting with different flavors in their kitchens.

“I enjoy creating new things,” he says, “and I’m always trying to get new ideas based on the Italian theme.” He credits his father-in-law (Perez) for teaching him most of his skills.

He said that in the two years since Ciao Bella has established itself, he often comes out of the kitchen to greet guests and take in their comments.

Over summer, the restaurant has been brightened up with new lighting, paint, and flooring as well as decor and chairs.

Prices at the restaurant range around $9 for appetizers to under $30 for entrees. It has a full bar, a bar and entertainment area, and also separate dining areas to suit diners.

If you go

What: Ciao Bella Ristorante Italiano

Where: Heritage Plaza, Collier Boulevard opposite Publix

Theme: Italian

Prices: Medium

Hours: 5 p.m.-close, seven days a week, except Thanksgiving and Christmas days

Reservations: Suggested, particularly for big groups

Specials: 20 percent off takeout orders, provided pick up is before 6 p.m.

Call: 970-0505