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Feb 5, 2006 08:28 AM

Review: Ciao Bella, Yuma, Arizona

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I now have an opportunity to work with the public radio station in Yuma, Arizona on a semi-regular basis. Thanks to e.d. for all your Yuma posts--it really helped my planning!

My colleague and I had dinner Friday at Ciao Bella, (2255 S 4th Ave, Yuma, 85364 - (928) 783-3900), owned by Nan and Anthony Bain, who also own the River City Grill. I think it just opened last November.

The restaurant specializes in Italian fine dining and I think, ironically enough, opened around the same time as the new Olive Garden in Yuma. The small restaurant is decorated tastefully and has that nice clubby feel to it. There's a roughly 8 table bar area and I guess about a dozen or so tables and booths.

We were entertaining a client who wasn't interested in appetizers, so we skipped that, but the menu looked great. For the entree, I had the roast quail with Israeli couscous, which was exceptional, and my colleague had the lamb chops. He ordered the lamb medium rare, and it came out slightly overdone, but it still was medium and delicious. Our client raved about the mushroom ravioli that was served with her chicken marsala. Servings were generous enough to share tastes, but not so much that you felt overwhelmed.

For dessert, we had the two featured items, a chocolate ricotta pie with Chantilly cream in an almond pastry crust, and the individual lemon merengue pie. The lemon merengue was the winner--beautiful, perfectly tart and creamy. The ricotta pie was very rich, but don't take any leftover pie didn't make the next day transition very well.

Service was appropriately paced and attentive, and the "groove" to the room was fun--there was a woman celebrating her 40th birthday with her girlfriends next to us, a family behind us--possibly new in-laws?, and Yuma business leaders in the bar. There was also a birthday party going on in the outdoor patio area. Only challenge I see for the place is that access from 4th Ave might be a little difficult and parking is pretty limited.

All in all, a great evening. Check it out sometime when you're in Yuma.

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  1. Thanks for the nice word. I have been meaning to post about this place since it opened, but I guess I've been lazy, so thanks alot for the post.

    I agree with everything you have written here. My overall impressions of the place are very positive. The servers here (and at River City) are the most competent in town (imho). The food here is always interesting and while some items are not perfectly prepared, I've have not had anything that wasn't tasty. It is also nice to see a restaurant not afraid to expand the culinary horizons in Yuma.

    Just to add a couple notes: all tomato sauces are made on premises using Italian San Marzano tomatoes. But this is not some old school southern Italian pasta house. There are five veal dishes on the menu, numerous other meat and fish entrees, and the kitchen uses gorgonzola sauces well. For lunches there are pannini, Italian pizzas, lasagnas, and salads. The wine list is outstanding in its range and very fair in its pricing.