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2.5
  • Food2
  • Service2.5
  • Value2.5
  • Ambiance3
  • Reviews32

Ciao Bella Italian Restaurant

703 Denman Street
Vancouver, BC V6G2L6
Tel: (604) 688-5771 Reserve Online
Fax: (604) 688-4825
Neighbourhood: Central

Reviews

Displaying 1 - 20 of 32 Reviews FoundSort: Useful | Helpful | Reviews | Date
Best thing is free parking
By pc7999 of Burnaby (48 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, January 31, 2016 - 12:18pm [Dine in]

The title says it all here. Free parking is the only good thing going on for this restaurant. Food was bad, service was mediocre at best and yet they charge like a mid range restaurant.

Their menu looks good. Lobster tail, bisque, prawns, risotto, rack of lamb, and on and on but their don't know how to cook them properly. Overcooked, sauces that are clearly store bought, over seasoned and not to mention warm beer.

There are so many restaurants on Denman so just keep walking and keep looking.

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discount pasta
By chasiubow of North Van (675 Reviews)
Submitted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 - 10:38am [Dine in]

Mrs. C and I were inspired by the previous esteemed reviewer and decided to give this place a try along with a couple of friends. The restaurant was nice enough but the tables were jammed together and it was a little too crowded for my taste. Despite the congestion everything was clean including the w/c.

Service was a bit slow, but our server tried valiantly to keep up with the traffic, much to her credit. I was surprised when I advised another server that we were ready to order and he rudely declared it was not his table and then scampered away.

As for the food, I had the Bolognese with meatballs, and my beloved had the Sicilian, also with meatballs. Our guests had Alfredo and di Frinzi. All were okay but nothing spectacular. Oddly, some of my pasta was al dente and some was mushy. The bread was quite nice, as was the house red wine that we had, although the wine was rather pricey. The only real downside was that there was an insect in Mrs. C's cola, but the server comped us and seemed genuinely distressed. Of course so was Mrs. C, since she had finished half the beverage...

As for value, half price pasta was a good deal, but the meatballs were full price, as was everything else. I think the regular prices are a little steep for what you get, but on cheap Tuesdays it works out okay.

Not sure if I would return.

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Arrivaderci Ciao Bella
By VJB of abbotsford (171 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, July 28, 2014 - 10:53am [Dine in]

Wow! Last night was so bad compared to our previous experiences that we will not return. They did not have parking in the back as the lot was filled with cars from bicycle rental shop in the same strip mall. The manager – Oriental fellow basically said too bad there is nothing they can do about it. Oh well. Our server – a lovely blonde girl was very good. She was very pleasant the best part of what was a very disappointing evening.
Our waitress explained that in addition to the regular menu and the 3 course special for $28.95 they also had a roast beef special for $18.95 that included lobster bisque or salad and came with Yorkshire pudding and vegetables. I decided to go with the roast beef special and my husband decided to go with the 3 course meal. I told them that I wanted the roast beef rare. They said it might be more than rare but it would be no more than medium rare. I started off with the lobster bisque. It was a bit watery, not the greatest soup but for the price it was acceptable. My husband said his salad was very good. It was a good size and the greens were very fresh. For his entree my husband had the chicken breast with pancetta and penne pasta. He said it was okay, nothing special. My roast beef was not good at all. It had a funny texture to it and I did not enjoy it at all. When our lovely waitress asked how our meals were I told her that my dinner was not very good. She was very gracious, she apologized and asked if I would like to order something else. I replied that I would and she said she would bring me the menu again. The next thing I know the manager or whoever he is was standing by the table. He said that they had told me the beef might not be rare (that was only part of the issue – the main point was that the roast beef was probably one of the worst roast beef dinners that I’ve had). He refused to take the dish back to the kitchen. My husband said that he would change plates with me and offered me his chicken and he took the roast beef. The chicken was also very poorly prepared. My husband said that 1 of the pieces of roast beef was very well done. Dessert was a cheesecake that looked and tasted like it came from a supermarket. Through all this our waitress was so pleasant. I think she was very embarrassed by the way her co-worker had handled the whole situation.
We have gone to Ciao Bella on numerous occasions over the past few years and suggested it to friends as a place for dinner but after last night we will definitely not be going back. The gentleman who was there definitely needs to take some courses on good customer relations. You’ve lost clientele that frequented your restaurant on a regular basis. All this could be resolved by handling the situation the way that our waitress would have handled it. If you want crappy food that they will not allow you to return or compensate you for in any way then you should dine here. The manager will also treat you like you are dirt under his feet. There are too many really good Italian restaurants in Vancouver to be treated with such disrespect to eat crappy food.

The only reason for the 3 on Service is because of our waitress. If I was rating based on the manager I would give it a 1. I split the difference. I would have given her a 4 for service

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Bravo for Bella!
By kewpiebaby of Vancouver (200 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 11:21am [Dine in]

Very cozy and cramped restaurant, but it's saved by 50% off pastas on Tuesdays. We went on a late Tuesday evening and was seated at a very small table for 6 people. Most of my party ordered a pasta dish with the exception of 2 regular entrees. The pasta portions are huge and yummy. We even got to use our ebook card and the waitress ended up taking off most of the pasta costs, so it was a great deal especially with the Tuesday promotion. Yay! =)

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Great on Tuesdays!
By epicurious of Burnaby, BC (507 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, September 15, 2008 - 6:06pm [Dine in]

Although my rating for value stands any other day of the week, on Tuesday's I would rate them a 5. Tuesday's are 50% pasta days - For under $8, you get a healthy portion of pasta along with 3pcs. of house bread, even if you get it "to go"! An incredible deal.
I ordered the "Siciliana" which was super delicious in all its garlicky glory.

Expectedly, it was super busy, but the server I ordered my take-out through, remained calm and very pleasant. I'm sure he had explained the pasta special millions of times, but he did not look at all agitated while explaining it to me.

Although I did not dine-in. I waited inside for my order. It's a very charming atmosphere, but really tight also. They are also known as a "piano bar", but no live pianist that evening. :(

I expect to return soon and maybe even try their $20 3-course meal that they offer nightly.

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why bother
By thecritic of Vancouver (376 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, August 17, 2006 - 1:28am [Dine in]

To our server's credit, she did try real hard. Unfortunately the restaurant was understaffed and overworked. The food took too long to be served, was mediocre and overpriced. Drink orders were slow to be delivered. The bill even took 20 minutes. I will not return with so many other dining options in town.

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Not quite up to par
By mmmsteak of Richmond (74 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, April 26, 2009 - 12:35pm [Dine in]

We were in the area of Denman and saw Ciao Bella. I recalled it was in our entertainment book, so we decided to check it out.

The atmosphere was nice and cozy as we walked in. Our waiter was very polite and friendly. He always filled our water just on time and had a smile on his face. After we ordered, the piano player sat down and began playing. What a talented guy! He was definitely the highlight of the evening.

However it went a bit downhill from there. We got our food promptly enough. I ordered steak and two of my friends had veal. The steak was really underwhelming. Even the likes of Cactus Club and Sammy J. Peppers make a much better steak. The white wine sauce it came with tasted funny, so I left that alone. One of the veals (the Osso Bucco) tasted quite good. The other (Vitello Del Cielo) was a bit of a let down. It's supposed to be their house specialty too! The pasta sides that came with their dishes tasted like something you could make at home yourself with canned tomato sauce. I expected more for dishes that are around $20.

I don't think I would recommend this place to friends. Although the ambiance and service are great, the food just isn't up to par for the price.

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Attitude's included.
By foodiephil of Richmond (65 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - 1:21pm [Dine in]

I agree with a couple of the other postings that the service is snotty.

"We are choosing not to honour 1/2-price Tuesday pasta tonight - it's a holiday," we were told with an air of "if you don't like, then you can just piss-off." We were cool with their "rules" - why did they have to be like *that*?

The food took FOR-EV-ER, let me emphasize that, though the place was pretty empty when we arrived.

The pasta was ho-hum. Not offensive, just not memorable.

The bill was too high to put up with the service, the wait, and the mediocre food.

No worries - we'll spend our cash elsewhere. And I recommend you do, too.

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A very good meal
By Norman of Vancouver East (79 Reviews)
Submitted Friday, September 3, 2010 - 7:41pm [Dine in]

I went with some friends out of the blue. I had never heard of this place before, but the sign said salmon, so we went in. The service was prompt and friendly, the meals were absolutely perfect - salmon and vegetables done just right, and the price was right. I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I will go back anytime.

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Another chair please?
By fella of Vancouver (72 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, August 17, 2006 - 1:08pm [Dine in]

We may never have tried this small west end Italian spot if I hadn’t received a GC at a local golf tourney.

At first glimpse the restaurant comes off as cozy and authentic, Italian decor and music etc. We chose to sit on the patio as it was nice night (this is where it gets good); when I attempted to sit down, the plastic patio chair collapsed underneath me, FUN. In their defense the manager and servers did however show genuine concern and offered to buy us drinks; well done (they just forgot to take them off the bill).

The food was simply sub par. The antipasto platter consisted of 2 meats, a capicoli and salami, one cheese which was marble I believe (not very Italian) a couple olives, a hard boiled egg, melon, and some pickled veg.

I can never pass up a good bowl of linguini and clams, so for the main I opted for the vongole. The pasta was bland, and boring, more like noodles and butter. Final bill was an even $100 with tip for 2, so value was poor in my eyes.

I will congratulate them on having a full dinning room when we left, but I don’t think I will be back anytime soon.

Best of luck

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Do you like bad food and verbal abuse?
By rgrling of Richmond , BC (2 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, September 24, 2012 - 11:00pm [Dine in]

Have you ever been to a restaurant where you were told what you were “allowed” to eat? Or ordered salmon which arrived at your table raw but the kitchen refused to cook it again properly? And then the owner publicly insulted you and your guests in front of the entire restaurant? Me neither. Until I had the extreme misfortune of dining at Ciao Bella.

I made a reservation for eighteen people at 7:00 pm on a Saturday night. At around 6:00 pm, Mario the owner called me, and I confirmed my reservation numbers. My guests started arriving at the restaurant at 7:05 pm, and I myself arrived at 7:15 pm. The place seemed cozy; there was live piano music and the atmosphere was friendly. I sat down and prepared myself for an enjoyable evening with my friends.

The first red flag came when the server informed me that, due to the party’s size, the restaurant expected us to each order a preset four course menu. This was a complete surprise to me as I heard nothing about this requirement when I made the reservation, and Mario did not mention anything when he called me earlier. Under any other circumstances, I would have left as I generally go to restaurants to eat what I like, not what they’re willing to serve me. But most of my guests were already seated so we decided to stay.

The theme of the set menu was “Lobster Festival”: lobster salad, lobster bisque, salmon or lobster cannelloni, and tiramisu or cheesecake. It all looked good on paper but the food was VERY subpar. The salad was just a small ordinary house salad with some boiled lobster chopped up and sprinkled on top. The bisque was also disappointing: a shallow dish that was basically Campbell’s tomato soup, except topped with lobster sprinkles yet again.

But the main course was truly unbelievable. My girlfriend was served a Coho salmon filet that was completely raw in the middle; when she notified the server of this, she was told that this was simply how the kitchen cooks its fish. They could make her another piece of Coho yet it would be just as raw as the first one. Now I understand that some dishes such as Ahi tuna or tuna tataki can be consumed raw, but judging by the slightly “off” smell of the fish, this Coho salmon was clearly neither sashimi-grade nor properly prepared. My girlfriend wisely chose to leave the fish alone for fear of food poisoning, but to add insult to injury, Ciao Bella wrapped up the disgusting fish and gave it to her at the end of the meal, instructing her to cook it herself for breakfast the next day. We had never witnessed such an arrogant kitchen.

My other guests ordered the “lobster and baby shrimp stuffed cannelloni”. However, they had to stop eating as they started finding sharp fish bones inside the pasta. Now why on earth would there be fish bones inside cannelloni? Turns out the chef used a mixture of lobster, shrimp, and halibut as stuffing. Which is not a problem, except for the fact that that was not written on the menu. Furthermore, the kitchen didn’t even bother to spend a few minutes removing the bones from the fish! Thanks to their sheer laziness, the pasta dish was full of bones and pretty much inedible.

The food service was painfully slow, and by the time dessert was served, we had been trapped at Ciao Bella for three hours. When it was finally time to get the check, Mario the owner confronted me with his displeasure. He explained to me that every table costs him money, and that my party had cost him dearly because we arrived late, four guests did not show up, and some people decided to share the four course menu. He berated me for dishonoring my reservation and told me sternly that my missing guests were, and I quote, “socially irresponsible”. He said all this loudly in front of everybody in the restaurant. I have never experienced such insulting disrespect in my entire life.

Apparently nobody informed Mario that the world does not always work the way he wants. People get to places late because of traffic. Guests sometimes cannot attend due to unforeseeable circumstances. And not every person can eat whole four courses in one sitting (no matter how mandatory it is.) But obviously all Mario could comprehend was that night’s meager lost profits. Which is ironic since what he really lost was the combined future business of myself, my guests, and all of their respective friends and family. And now that you’ve read my account, I hope you won’t give Ciao Bella your business either. After all, what person in their right mind would pay a restaurant to tell them what to eat, put up with awful food, and then endure verbal abuse from the owner?

In conclusion, Mario truly taught me a lesson in social responsibility. I am now tasked with the responsibility of telling every single person I know to avoid Ciao Bella as if their life depends on it. And based on their uncooked fish and bony cannelloni, that may very well be true.

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Very disappointing
By Rachel1402 of Downtown Vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 6:38pm [Dine in]

I went for a meal here with my boyfriend for Valentine's day. The interior was nicely decorated and overall looked appealing. High hopes quickly changed when we had to wait 20 mins to be served, when we had already booked a table. After finally sitting down in the nice patio area, the service was good and the food was very nice and well cooked. No problems there.

However, during our meal, the ambiance changed considerably when we could hear and was close to a very serious argument from another table; they were considerably drunk and kept causing trouble in and outside the restaurant. This made us very uncomfortable and threatened. The big issue is that the restaurant failed to take action. At the end of the meal, we tipped a good amount but was taken aback when the restaurant demanded more money from us when we had already gave them $154 plus tip from the both of us. We felt disgusted and that, as well as the change in ambiance beforehand, ruined my valentines and birthday.

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Not good experience
By oldbrogene of Kits (23 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, September 22, 2008 - 5:12pm [Dine in]

My date and I went to that place for lunch. After wait for 15 min a server came to greet us and give us some water, left again. More 10 minutes and came to order. The menu very poor, we asked for baked eggplant as appie and pasta after that. Everything came at the same time. The eggplant was OK the rest URGGH, but the service was the champ. The most horrible that I've seen. No refils for water, my wine, I had to serve myself and my date everytime, when the bottle was emptied no one offers another one. The bill took forever, etc. I'll not come back.

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Worst Italian Meal In Years. Run Screaming!
By Bowener of Bowen Island (1 Review)
Submitted Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 1:31pm [Dine in]

One word comes to mind: appalling.
My wife and I went last night because someone had given us a gift certificate. We both agreed that it was the worst meal out we've had in 10 years. Pale iceberg lettuce salads, hers with burned nuts. Supposed to be greens, right? The entrees were lame, and the sauces decidedly un-Italian. For cheese, there is a shaker of... wait for it... Kraft Parmesan. That's right, the same stuff in the tall green shakers we had when we were kids and didn't know better. The lobster bisque was a thin disaster, made with canned tomatoes and canned snow crab, from what I could tell. Not a piece of real lobster or actual broth made from the shells was detected. And to top off all this majesty, we were not serenaded, but rather assaulted by a pianist with a set list largely unchanged since the Middle Ages, performing on a piano that was so out of tune that I felt like I was in a Wild West saloon, waiting for the big gunfight. Pythagoras must have been spinning in his grave. An atrocious place. More suitable for picketing than dining. Flee now, while there is time...

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Disgusting!! Absolutely horrible, do NOT eat here!
By Justin Bieber of Vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Sunday, May 12, 2013 - 8:21pm [Dine in]

Tried taking my wife here for a romantic dinner. What a terrible mistake!!
The food was nothing short of DISGUSTING. I don't mean it just wasn't good, I mean it was quite possibly the worst food we have ever had ANYWHERE. I had their "specialty of the house", which turned out to be frozen microwaved chicken, mushrooms straight from a can, as well as canned pasta sauce. My wife had pasta which was somehow was greasy. Greasy pasta?? Neither one of us could even eat our terrible food, and the waiter was nowhere to be found for 20 minutes for us to say so. When the waiter finally showed up and I told him the food was bad, he just gave me attitude. Disgusting food with poor rude service staff, wow, great restaurant!! Enjoy! Oh ya, forgot to mention, $20 for a plate of spaghetti that isn't even any good. WTF??

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A very very bad experience
By magnolia of magnolia ohio (2 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, January 23, 2012 - 8:05pm [Dine in]

Very very bad food - absolutley no quality here. The appetizer salad was salty and watery. The pasta tasted like it came out of a can and the salmon main was tough and dry. I have no idea why there were people in the place. The server did not care that we left most of our food. We were not quality checked and who can blame them. The ambiance was 1960 pseudo Italian. I do not perceive value in low prices when you can't eat the food.

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Unwillingly Disappointed
By nitapita of Vancouver (Fairview) (2 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 12:58am [Dine in]

I've been wanting to try this place out for awhile and was REALLY disappointed at the service. I came here with a friend on an early Sunday evening hoping to grab a light bite before a concert. We were in a good mood and ready to start a great night. Unfortunately, that was tainted by the unprofessional service.

The place was quite empty when we got there with two other tables that were waiting for their food. Our server, an Asian man who seemed to really know what he's doing, seated us and got his busser to get our water. My friend decided to order an appetizer first as I was still taking some time to look at the menu. When the man came back, I tried ordering the 3-course meal and said that was all because we wanted to share. He swiftly said no sharing allowed and I was a bit taken back by his bluntness but totally understood that it was a pre-set deal. I then ordered a regular pasta bowl. When I finished, he then turned to my friend, further pressuring him that he had to order a MEAL on top of our appetizer. The vibe he was giving off was really uncomfortable and uncompromising. I've been to restaurants (with servers that could barely speak a complete sentence of English) that explained the policy in a much more mannered way. Is sharing that forbidden in an "authentic" Italian restaurant for first-timers on an empty night?

Food was mediocre. Cold and jagged bread that looked re-used came after when my platter came out. I was asked if I wanted pepper after I started eating. I really wanted to like the place but I was appalled by the rudeness. Start treating people like customers... then the restaurant wouldn't need 50% discounts every lunch and Mon/Tues nights.

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We came because of good reviews...
By ManwithWife of West End (1 Review)
Submitted Monday, September 7, 2009 - 5:46pm [Dine in]

... and were really disappointed... slow, apathetic service from two disintereted young servers mid-day on a holiday. Yes, they were open; yes, other diners were in the restaurant. Food, when it arrived was marginal... Small salads, unadorned pasta with meatballs with a sprinkle of parsley and pepper and not even an offer of paremesan...

What has all the fuss been over? Truly a disappointing venture out... and no one there noticed or seemed to care.

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Bad Italian Food
By davan of Vancouver (2 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, May 18, 2009 - 2:30pm [Dine in]

My partner and I had the 3 course meal for 29.99. This seemed like a good offer however the standard of food for an Italian restaurant was well below par. The staff were initially friendly but after we ordered our meal and wine they lost interest in our table.
We got bruschetta for starter which was tiny and burnt. I had salmon with pasta. The tomato sauce was tasteless and the salmon did not taste fresh at all. I ate the meal but had to think nice thoughts to keep it down. I walk by this restaurant every day and it's often busy so I can only assume it's tourists keeping it going. I would not recommend it or would I return. 29.99 each plus 35 bottle of wine came to over a hundred dollars. This is a lot of money for cheap bad food. The word that best describes their food is 'junk'
The piano player was very good and made us feel a bit better about the experience as it was an anniversary meal. I find this sort of restaurant very frustrating. It has all the makings of a great local restaurant until you find out the expensive way, that it's just another tourist trap

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Very Dissapointing Except for the Pianist!
By SuperFoodCritic of Coquitlam (3 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, October 6, 2008 - 11:57am [Dine in]

We recently went for dinner at this restaurant and had a dissapointing time. The restaurant was small with all the tables really close together. They did have a very talented pianst playing the piano. (He was the best thing about the night) The waitress was friendly but had a heavy accent and was a bit hard to understand.

They brought italian bread to the table right away and there was oil and balsamic vinegar in bottles on the table. The bread was dried out and old, and the balsamic vinegar was very harsh, not at all like most of the smooth ones I have had in restaurants before. I had a cesar salad to start and the dressing was very bland and salty. The parmesan cheese on top tasted like it came out of the Kraft shaker. My husband had a regular salad with a house dressing which he enjoyed. For a main course, I had the veal with a mushroom sauce and my husband had a chicken dish with pasta. My dinner came with roast potatoes and vegetables. The veal itself was ok, but the sauce was very thick and starchy tasting. As well, the roast potatoes were old tasting and dried out, like they had been sitting from the night before. The vegetables I have to admit were cooked to perfection. My husbands chicken dish was good, and the pasta was also very tasty. I think we should have stuck to a regular pasta dish.

We tried to use our Entertainment coupon for the dinner, but they refused to honor it, saying that we needed to have an entertainment card to go with the coupon. I insisted that there was no card in my entertainment book since I had bought the small "value" book. Never the less they refused to honor the coupon and we had to pay the full price.

All in all I would not recommend this restaurant unless you go just to hear the wonderful piano player.

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