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Best Italian Restaurant Houston 2013 - Ciao Bello

Ciao Bello

Ciao Bello

5161 San Felipe St.

Houston, TX 77056

713-960-0333

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Readers' Choice: READERS' CHOICE: Maggiano's Little Italy

It was bound to happen. Ciao Bello, the younger sibling of River Oaks staple Tony's, just needed some time to rise to its full potential. This year, it's 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 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.

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