Cozy at Ciao Italia

Menu at Ciao Italia, Perth
On a visit to Perth, my nephews, Andrew and Aaron, insist that visitors must have The Ciao Italia Experience so we fixed a date to dine there.  Now Ciao is a VERY popular place for wood-fired pizza, pasta and Italian specialties and I’m not exaggerating. 

Dine in or takeaway, the kitchen is always busy and the queue for a table in the cozy restaurant will start to build up from as early as 5.30pm.  That’s because Ciao has a policy of not taking any phone-in reservations.

I’m told that the queues that clog the pavements outside the restaurant can be rather overwhelming and to avoid being stuck in a long queue, we have a strategy.  We decide on an early start that day.  After work Andrew and his wife will go directly to the restaurant while Aaron and all of us will meet them there.  And when we arrived at Mill Point Road and parked the car, I notice that it is a residential neighbourhood and wonder if the residents are so patient or have gotten used to the crowd that regularly flock to Ciao!

You can see the pavements outside Ciao Italia
only on days when it is closed!
Another policy practiced in Ciao is even if you are at the top of the queue but your party is incomplete, you will not be invited inside until every member of your party has arrived.  I think this is fair because you may be hogging a table, just waiting for your friends while the restaurant can instead serve other complete groups in the queue.  The restaurant aims to serve good food to satisfy their customers and if they could serve a group first, they will systematically go on to serve the next and the next throughout the night and keep everyone happy! 

The sticker I saw pasted on underside of wooden chair!
I observe responsible staff members assigned to oversee the queue and customers familiar with the system, follow in an orderly fashion because I believe all they want is to savour the fantastic food as soon as they can!

When we join Andrew at the entrance, I can see through the glass walls that many diners are ahead of us and the restaurant is fast filling up.  A staff member is popping out the front door to call for the next in the queue and I’m reassured that Andrew has given his name and our group is ranked somewhere at the front of the queue.  Wooden chairs arranged on the pavement are available for waiting groups to rest and more chairs are stacked up nearby.  The temperature is fast dropping and rather than sit, I move around to keep warm but I suddenly stop when I read the words on a sticker pasted on the underside of a chair. 

Compact seating inside Ciao Italia, Perth
It read, “Made in Malaysia”… and I’m pleasantly surprised and strangely proud that Ciao customers are sitting on Malaysian made chairs!  Maybe this knowledge made me feel a closer affinity to Ciao but I must say that my experience in Ciao can be summarized as simply super!

My nephews have warned me about how space is maximized in the restaurant to accommodate up to 90 guests so I’m not surprised with the compact arrangement when our group of eight was shown to our table.  Even without ample elbow space, we can sit comfortably. 

Delicious signature Fettuccine Ciao Italia
With the buzz in the dining hall plus the excited chatter among staff in the adjoining kitchen and at the wood-fire oven, loud Italian greetings and order-taking going on around us, we can hardly overhear the conversation of customers at the next table seated so close to us.  In fact, we can hardly hear ourselves too but it is all part of the Ciao atmosphere in the busy little restaurant!

The boys are familiar with the menu so it’s easy to quickly place our order for two portions of Chili Mussels and a range of pasta including their signature Fettuccine Ciao Italia, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spaghetti Marinara and Squid Ink Pasta with Prawns. 
Large wood-fired Smoked Salmon Pizza
The meal is not complete without a Ciao wood-fired pizza so we pick the popular Smoked Salmon Pizza.  Our orders are quickly served and as the platters are shared around the table, all talking ceased except for requests like, “Please pass the pasta” or “Give me a slice of pizza, please?”  We end our meal sweetly with their signature Tiramisu and if it is up to me, I’d like to have a bit more!

While enjoying my Ciao experience, I look up and spot the growing queue outside.  I can imagine how miserable it feels to be waiting, feeling cold and hungry, while you watch diners through the glass walls, tucking into delectable dishes and each time the doors swing open, you can smell the tantalizing aromas… 

A section of the crowd waiting outside the restaurant
I look around the restaurant that’s still jam packed with customers literally seated back-to-back and who incidentally, are mainly Asian.  After our satisfying meal, we quickly leave [selflessly freeing our table for the next group of diners!] and I can’t help but notice that even among those waiting outside, there are probably only 10% of non-Asians!

So if you are a fan of good Italian fare and happen to be in Perth, don’t miss the opportunity for your own Ciao experience.  Remember – go early or be prepared to wait. 
A large wood-fired pizza, packed and ready for takeaway!
This is what real Tiramisu tastes like...
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