Ciao Cielo

171 Bay St
Port Melbourne, VIC 3207
03 9645 1568

After the girls left, I needed a bit of time to spend with myself and with the naughty foster kittens. So I deliberately left Saturday empty except for yet another brunch catch-up with Marc. He works crazy days, often on weekends. I help take his mind off things by us having spur-of-the-moment brunches on his mad days. It’s easy because he works in the same suburb where I live. Our meeting arrangement is simple, he walks down Bay St from office while I walk up Bay St from home and we meet wherever we do. It usually ends up near my home, cos I walk slower, lol.

Ciao Cielo (Italian: Hello Heaven) used to serve Italian gelato earlier this year, I didn’t even think they’d serve savoury meals. My initial impression of that place as “my local italian gelato bar” stuck. Gelato is a Summer necessity, and I even crave for it in Winter. Imagine my distress when Ciao Cielo’s vibrant gelato counter got replaced with darkwood tables and chairs in August. Where do I get my gelato fix now?!? *cry*
It eventually dawned on me as I walked by the place every week that the cosy café’s angle has changed. The focus now beams towards a succinct menu of good, honest Italian food. Marc has been here a number of times and, in his own words, he has “never ever ever been disappointed”. When it comes to food, Marc can be quite exuberant. =) And I felt a tad ashamed that someone who doesn’t live here knows my local eateries better than myself! With such a recommendation, I knew I had to give my “old gelato bar” a go.

Halfway through our brunch, I reached a simple conclusion. If anyone is visiting Port Melbourne and wants good Italian food, go to Ciao Cielo. Marc was right, the meal was stunning. Service was relaxed and wonderful. Our genuinely warm waitress spoke to us as if we were family. I didn’t mind the accompanying coffees too, my flat white was on the bitter side but nicely flavoursome.

Calamari Salad, with avocado, tomato and rocket $16. The deep fried calamari was fantastic, I could see tiny bits of fresh herbs in the batter. The other ingredients went well in a caesar-like dressing with a touch of mustard seeds.

Spaghetti Marinara, with fresh seafood, white wine and garlic $19. White wine and garlic sauce just goes soo much better with seafood than the traditional tomato-based marinara sauce. This dish had a perfect balance of fresh seafood, herbs, garlic, salt and white wine. I kept lapping up more and more of the sauce.

Churros, with dark Lindt chocolate. The churros were served perfectly hot and crispy, but we weren’t as fond of the chocolate. Marc said “it’s very Lindty”. Lol, evidently neither of us are particularly fond of the Lindt brand of chocolates.

Pictured here, a churro dipped in melted Lindt chocolate. Marc needs a manicure.

Here’s a picture of our shoes. Colourful friends for a sunny afternoon. Looking at the picture, it almost seems like I am too poor to afford shoelaces. : ) Marc had two glasses of white wine and two coffees. It was almost like he didn’t have to go into work! Swells popped by at the end of our meal as well. He had a milkshake which he liked, I personally found it very sweet. This impromptu brunch catch-up was sort of a goodbye to my friends. I’d be leaving for Singapore a week later. It will be a month-long family reunion.  We parted with hugs and wished each other a good festive season and happy new year.


Came back here 4 days later for dinner with Ed. The food remained really good. I asked the lady what happened to the old gelato counter. Turned out I was speaking to Kate, owner and one of the chefs of Ciao Cielo. Kate explained that it was her aunt’s establishment at first, a gelateria. Kate and her partner, Bryan (also a chef), cooked pastas for customers as part of the business. Her aunt found that the gelato business was both seasonal and slow, so Kate and Bryan bought over the business 4 months ago, and here we are.
Spring Bay Mussells chargrilled in shell with garlic butter and topped with prosciutto herb crumbs $16. Ed and I liked this very much. Butter heaven! The garlic butter really reminded me of escargots. I thought the crunchy bits was fried garlic, but it’s actually crisp bread crumbs soaked in garlic oil! Lip-smacklingly good entrée.


Queensland Tiger Prawn with garlic white Wine sauce tossed w fettuccine $27
Ed loved this dish absolutely. You don’t just get two whole jumbo prawns, there were a number of smaller prawns (with tails on) hiding in the pasta. I had a nibble.. very fresh prawn and I suspect the pasta is home made. The sauce was slightly creamier than the spaghetti marinara’s 4 days ago, but this time with great flavour of cooked prawn in it.
Pappardelle w slow braised Osso bucco ragu $24. I would’ve preferred to have the prawn dish too but since Ed had it, I tried something different. I wasn’t that keen on something this red and heavy, but it tasted good. Melty osso bucco in a cloying sauce that has red wine in it. The carrot and pasta were cooked to a perfect texture. Despite not being in the mood for such a heavy dish, I finished it quickly and easily.
Vanilla bean Panacotta, w red Wine, blackberry and strawberry jelly and very berry Cointreau salad on mascarpone pavlova. Not sure if I’ve had Panacotta before, but I found the texture to be reminiscent of a firmed-up mousse. A bit scary, lol. Light in flavour and sweetness, I somewhat wished the taste of vanilla bean was stronger, but keeping that same good level of sweetness. Both the jelly and Cointreau salad were sharply tart. It refreshed my palate nicely, which was good because the pavlova was on the hard side and very sweet.
Another good meal here. Ciao Cielo seems to deliver. Keep up the amazing food, Kate and Bryan. I’ll be back, you’re only 3 mins away from home! :D
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