Don't bother with Ciao Bello in Houston
Two thumbs down. If I had more thumbs, more thumbs down.
My wife and I had a bad experience at Ciao Bello. Food quality was unbalanced and service was poor, especially at these prices.
My wife and I were the first people to enter for brunch today (Sunday) - no one else seated in the covered patio area. Ten minutes later, another couple arrived. By this time, we had ordered drinks (hot tea w/ milk and sugar, Bloody Mary, spicy), appetizer (figs and prosciutto) and entree (chicken & waffles, crab cake slider). No water, no bread. Tea delivered without milk or sugar. Bloody Mary not spicy, no celery stick (third couple ordered Bloody Mary's and had celery -- inconsistent bartender?) In the meantime, the other couple had gotten water, bread and had ordered as well.
I spoke to the manager, who said that "bread is only brought out after you've ordered." (We've already ordered, dumb ass). Three other waiters brought out the water, bread and sugar. At this point, you might hope that the manager would try to arrange for us to get our food sooner, since I've complained about another couple getting served before us, despite being seated ten minutes after us? Nooooo.
Other couple gets entree, we're waiting for appetizer. Actually, the appetizer's pretty good. Other couple is done eating and leaves, THEN we get our entree. My wife wants to walk out, but I figure we paid for the food, might as well try it. The sad thing is that we should have just left.
Crab cake had a fishy smell to it -- is it fresh? Don't know. The best part was the runny egg served with the crab cake. My waffles were good, but were supposed to be served with amaretto syrup -- I got regular syrup (I was told it was amaretto syrup). The chicken was bizarrely butchered -- none of the pieces I got resembled normal anatomy (leg? thigh? nope). The breading took a life of its own, as I pulled off enough breading to cover my plate (I kid you not). Somehow, they had deep fried the chicken so that the breading was crunchy, but the chicken skin was still uncooked. Two pieces of the chicken were somewhat undercooked as well.
The waiter asked if we wanted dessert, which we declined. We left and will not go back. Horrible experience made worse by an incompetent manager. I feel badly because the waiter was clearly inexperienced but trying, but the manager just botched it.
Nice dining area, inconsistent food, poor service. Don't waste your money. There are so many good restaurants in Houston that this one should just die a quiet death.
Was there for a business lunch a year or so ago.
We had a similar experience as the OP. In fact, the manager comped us the large app platter since the food was taking an eternity.
I don't even remember what we ordered, so obviously it just wasn't that memorable.
I dropped it into the "been there, done that pile" and kept looking.
I ate there today at lunch. I had the meatball pizza which was duck meatballs and some other meats on it. It was excellent and huge. I ate less than half. The bread and oil brought to the table was very good. My friend had the fresh snapper topped with a light cream sauce, shrimp and maybe some crab. I had a bite and it was absolutely wonderful. REAL snapper!!! Wish I would have ordered that. The meal was great, service was top notch and yes, it was a little pricey but the food was worth it. I want to return soon to get that fresh snapper dish. Probably the best piece of fish I've ever had in a restaurant. But I do love snapper.
Ouch, that hurts. Nothing like spending some long anticipated leisure time with friends or family at a nice restaurant, then having the whole experience tanked this way. It's enough to make a person return to work on Monday crabby. Betcha next weekend you go to one of your tried and true favorites.