When it comes to pizza, everyone has an opinion.
New Yorkers will tell you that New York-style “pizza by the slice” is the best. And who hasn’t enjoyed a reheated slice of pepperoni pizza on a Lower Eastside street corner after a late-night of club going?
In Chicago, it’s all about the “deep dish.” Oversized appetites love oversized pizzas and even though the Chicago style is among the farthest from the dish’s authentic Italian roots, we say: when in Chicago, do as the Chicagoans do…
From Brooklyn to Santa Monica, the so-called “pizza wars” have consumed restaurateurs and restaurant-goers alike. These days, it seems that folks are so busy arguing about their pizza that they have forgotten to take time out to enjoy it!
At Ciao Bello, Tony prefers to serve classic Roman-style pizza — the sottile (soht-TEE-leh) thin-crust classic of the Eternal City (above). This is the type of pizza you will find in the famous trattorie (traht-toh-REE-eh, plural of trattoria, traht-toh-REE-ah) of the Trastevere (trahs-TEH-veh-reh) district of Rome, where locals and tourists and young people and families all share a common love of this Italian classic dish.
“Ciao Bello is Tony Vallone’s best yet.”
Esquire magazine food critic
At Ciao Bello, Tony Vallone uses the same “doppio zero” flour for his housemade pasta as he does at Tony’s. He uses the same extra-virgin olive oil imported directly from Sicily. The setting is casual, the prices are family-friendly, and the atmosphere is jovial and relaxed… A slice of Italy in Houston.
Some might call it “Italian casual.” Others would call it “Italian comfort food.” And those who frequent Tony’s on Richmond might even call it “Tony’s light.” We just call it “great food to be shared with family and friends.”
Here’s what the editors of the Houston Press had to say about Ciao Bello, their “Best Italian Restaurant 2013″:
Ciao bello is “turning out the kind of food that people talk about, return for, tweet about and remember. Under Executive Chef Bobby Matos, a simple burrata salad of grilled peaches and arugula is amazing. Braised beef cheeks are so tender that you need nothing but a fork to enjoy the richly flavored meat. The pastas, made from the same ’00′ flour and imported Italian water as those at big brother Tony’s, are just a joy to taste and sample, from the house special pappardelle bolognese and the buttery rich mezzi rigatoni amatriaciana [below] to the sinfully creamy and delectable plush pillows of summer corn pansoti. Impressively large and impossibly thin pizzas never disappoint, either, and the wine list, curated by beverage director Scott Sulma, is approachable and extremely drinkable. And then there are the desserts, like the incredible house-made carrot cake or the light-as-a-feather buttermilk panna cotta topped with blackberry and sage conserva. Just about everything at Ciao Bello is a delight, including the sparkler-topped ice cream cake that will arrive miraculously at the table whenever it’s someone’s birthday.”
Here’s what Tony Vallone told the editors of CultureMap when they asked him and other prominent Houstonians to share his predictions for the city in 2033.
Houston is already one of our country’s leading cities for the arts and opportunity. And it’s also one of the nation’s bright spots for food and wine culture.
Thirty years from now, Houstonians will look back at the 2010s and remember them as the years that the rest of the U.S. began to take notice of the emerging, vibrant food scene here.
But in 2033, Houstonians won’t stand for the poor imitations of Italian food that we still see so much of.
Today, I’m able import so many ingredients from Italy for my restaurants. That wasn’t possible thirty years ago.
This trend will continue and authenticity and purity of ingredients will be the benchmarks for great Italian cuisine and fine dining in general.
Click here to read what other prominent Houstonians had to say.