Ciao Bella: Northwest Indiana Chic Trattoria

My meal at Ciao Bella was something I’d expect from a high-end Chicago restaurant. Baby lamb chops, standing bone-end up forming a tepee atop a mound of rapini and beans, topped with delicate purple microgreens, was as pleasing to the eyes as it was to the taste buds.

150725_IN_CiaoBella (7 of 9)I had no idea such an extraordinary restaurant existed in suburban-like Northwest Indiana until we ate lunch there during a press trip to the area. I had gone to the trattoria with the intention of ordering a light salad, but when Ciao Bella owner Joe Scalzo and Chef Luis Hernandez said they wanted to prepare some of their specials for our group, I couldn’t resist.

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We started with Frito Misto, fried calamari, shrimp and vegetables served with a spicy tomato sauce.

Fritto MistoEntrees included Costolette di Agnello, the baby lamb chops pictured and described above; Risotto con Gamberi, a risotto with shrimp; and Salmone alla Griglia, grilled salmon filet served over fresh vegetables and drizzled with a honey-balsamic glaze.

Risotto con GamberiSalmone alla GrigliaWe shared three desserts, each one as delectable as the next. I was happy to have Chef Luis make the choice of desserts. It would have been too difficult a decision for me to choose from the dozen options, from tiramisu to hazelnut gelato.

Desserts at Ciao BellaIf you aren’t in the mood for a big meal, Ciao Bella also offers lighter fare, including Panini at lunch and thin-crust pizza, with typical or gourmet toppings, at both lunch and dinner.

Special events at Ciao Bella

Ciao Bella holds occasional special events in the restaurant, including wine tasting and cooking demonstrations. The meal is served to you, course by course, as Chef Luis demonstrates the preparation.

A little more about Ciao Bella

Joe Scalzo grew up in southern Italy and owned two upscale restaurants in Chicago before opening Ciao Bella, the chic trattoria in Schererville, Indiana. Luis Hernandez grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico and has been cooking since he helped his mother and grandmother prepare family meals as a teenager. He met Joe Scalzo while he was working in Chicago and has mastered both Mexican and Italian cuisine.

Ciao Bella owner Joe Scalzo and Chef Luis Hernandez
Ciao Bella owner Joe Scalzo and Chef Luis Hernandez

Ciao Bella, located at 1514 U.S. 41 in Schererville, Indiana, opens daily at 11 a.m., closing at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Visit the web site for further details or to view the full menu.

Accommodations: We stayed at the Comfort Inn Hammond during our visit to Northwest Indiana. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.

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Disclosures: Our visit to Ciao Bella was hosted by the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority, and our admission was complimentary. However, all opinions in this article are my own.
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