Baltimore, thank you so much for welcoming us with open arms. This weekend we we so pleased to have had our first chance to visit a chic local restaurant our friend Christina Gonzales of Premier Rides has been talking about with such enthusiasm–Ciao Bella
Restaurant in the heart of downtown’s Little Italy. After a long but fun week at the store, Christina met us downtown. We parked her car off-site near her office, scooped her up in a lipstick red and HOT little Maserati Grandsport (coupe) and she led us right to the front door, where the owner and doormen were delighted to give us “Front Door ROCK STAR PARKING” for the evening. [Always good news.]
Inside, the ambiance was casual and warm. Everything was upscale, but we were still comfortable on a cold night in denim slacks and cashmere. Sportcoats would have been welcome on all the guys, but I can’t imagine the staff would ever shun anyone hungry who came in without a tie–and the ladies (we suspect) are always comfortably attired here whatever the fashion or season. The waitstaff was prompt to seat us right at the window without our even needing to ask, and everyone from busboys to parking attendants were polite, friendly, and gracious. Bottom line, from the moment we pulled up at the curb, we knew were were in for a treat.
Wandering away from the kitchen and past the hockey game on the big flat screen over the well-stocked bar, Chef Tony Gambino ambled over to say hello. Once he realized we were newly arriving locals, he flashed a big smile, made a string of jokes, and (to us) felt like an instant friend. Now, knowing that we already made it through our Calamari with fresh Marinara and some of the best Clams Casino
around did not make us any LESS comfortable when we met him(as much as we are food lovers)–but his award winning personality was the personification of charm in the Charm City. Between the food and fun, it is obvious to us why Tony is loved by everyone in town.
Tony, for those unfamiliar, is a local Baltimore star in his own right. Beyond tending to his own restaurant fare, he’s a regular DJ now on one of the local Rock radio stations; fans and friends can also watch him hosting his own cooking segment on Baltimore’s own Fox 45:
“Tony Gambino serves up traditional Itailian fare with a homemade feel, including seafood and family size pasta platters. Ciao Bella Restaurant is a customer friendly treasure in the Heart of Little Italy Baltimore.”
COOKING WITH TONY GAMBINO on the morning News Edition FOX 45; Every second Thursday and Last Thursday of Every month @ 8:45 am
All in all, we had a wonderfully relaxing evening. The food, company, wine, and atmosphere was just the right combination to make for the end of another great Baltimore week and to get us ready to do Monday right. We couldn’t have had a better end to our day or a start of what we hope will be a long and wonderful family dining and “handshake promotion” friendship with Ciao Bella.
As for the “SPECIAL SAUCE”: Chef Tony Gambino has been so good as to extend a parking invitation to MOB EXOTIC Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini drivers; call ahead to have dinner at his place, tell him Jack from M.O.B. Exotics sent you, and he’ll reserve a spot out front for you. Like he says , “I joke all the time on my shows that I am promoting Little Italy’s Restaurant MOB and Meatballs… Now, finally, we have a highline Italian car store [Maserati of Baltimore] and now Jack with MOB Exotics has wandered into my place. What could be better? You come and eat here. We’ll make you and your beautiful cars feel right at home.” How cool.
We’re gonna take you up on that offer, Tony. Not only do we need to head back in soon for some Fresh Lobster Tettrazini, your famous Veal Saltimbocca, and the Filet Portifino, the Cannolis “for the road” have us hooked. We’ll see you Saturday… around 8? [We’ll call ya, man–no worries. We’ve got some goodies for you from the store to bring along, too, from the boutique. 40 or 42.]
Ciao Bella: great owner, great staff, phenomenal food.