Ciao Bello (5161 San Felipe, 713-960-0333) is Tony Vallone's new, moderately priced neighborhood place, just west of the Galleria. "This is an Italian restaurant, not an American-Italian restaurant," says Vallone. "We either make everything in premises, like our fresh pasta, or we import only the finest ingredients from Italy, like San Marzano tomatoes. It's a great family place, and our wine prices are excellent. We serve our antipastos from a special display, and we make our Bolognese sauce right here. Some of the dishes we're really proud of are the veal chop Milanese, the rabbit alla cacciatore and the soft-shell crab in anchovy sauce."
Dish joined the crowds late on opening weekend and found it packed. So powerful is the Vallone name that even with no advertising, the trendsetters had already staked their claim to the best seats in the house. The only table available was on the large patio, and there were some opening-night service gaffes, but with the Vallones at the helm, those will be corrected.
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