Freelance writer with a passion for anything that involves eating and drinking.
Published March 4th 2014
Nestled between a hairdressers and a sushi restaurant sits a Port Melbourne gem, Ciao Cielo. After nearly a year of walking past and thinking, "I should eat there," I finally followed through with my thoughts, and on Saturday night, hungover boyfriend in tow, I enjoyed a sensational Italian meal.
Ciao Cielo, translates as "hello heaven" and it is exactly that, a tiny little slice of heaven just outside of the city. Tiny is definitely not an understatement. Ciao Cielo has about 12 tables, most of them set for two, and a small bar in the corner that the waiters were all huddled around when we made our entrance. One of the waiters rushed to the door to hold it open and he was more than happy to escort us the five steps it took to reach our table and then offer to take our coats. Our waiter made us feel so welcome and once he discovered that my other half was hungover he quickly began suggesting various drinks and items from the menu that would help him through his time of need. We thought this attentive service might end once more patrons began to fill the tables, but it didn't. Our waiter was more than happy to suggest wines and dishes that he thought we might enjoy.
We decided to opt for the chef specials for starters, a chicken liver pâté with grapes and toast, and a mushroom and pork terrine. Now, I'm not much of a liver fan so I had to trust my delicate other half's view with regards to this dish. I'm guessing from the silence, the rapid scoffing and then the subsequent reordering of the pâté, it must have been pretty good. He also ate half of my terrine but from the half that I had, I can say that it was fantastic. However, rather boringly, my favourite part of the starter was the homemade bread and homemade butter mixed with parmesan cheese that was served to all the patrons. My lack of self-control around carbohydrates, especially bread and butter, often leads to the self-destruction of my appetite and the ultimate ruining of my main course, but on this occasion, as half of my starter had mysteriously disappeared, I had plenty of room for more.
With my other half starting to recover/the beer taking over again, we began to relax and look forward to our main courses. I ordered the slow cooked lamb shoulder, the waiter advised me that "slow" means 8 hours, and this was served with a white bean hock puree, plum, watercress, artichoke chips and fromage blanc. It was delicious. The lamb fell apart and the accompanying flavours made this dish a taste sensation. I finished it in record timing, not leaving a single speck of the dish on the plate. Across the table my boyfriend was twirling his chili spanner crab spaghetti around his fork with a look of contentment of his face. He told me later that it was one of the best spaghetti dishes he had ever tasted. This is a huge compliment coming from an Italian pasta lover.
We would have ordered dessert had we not had to dash off to a birthday party. It took us nearly a year to finally dine at Ciao Cielo but it will definitely not be another year until we eat there again. It was a truly lovely dining experience that I would recommend to anyone.