The beautiful Canneloni at Ciao! Ristorante in Sylvania, Ohio. Not an appetizer … I just wanted to show you dessert first.
One of the issues I have in putting this blog together is that seemingly, the better the restaurant, the worse the lighting is. None of the overhead lights actually lit our table at all. There was a wall sconce mounted on the wall right there at the end of our table in our booth, but it only had a little yellow-tinged 40W bulb in it. Taking pics of the food in these places with my trusty 8.0 megapixel Canon Powershot A590 is difficult at best in those particular extreme low light situations, especially when the light isn’t within a good spectrum. This happens even though the camera finally does have a decent batch of manual settings, better than most cameras in its class. Corrections in Photoshop CS2 kinda help … but the restaurants could certainly have better lighting to begin with and still have a romantic setting for guest couples.
Ok, rant over …
Yesterday evening Mary and I went on our first dinner date in some time. We’d simply gotten out of the habit of doing so, and really need to get back into going out on a regular basis. For the past couple years for my birthday dinner we’d tried to go to Ciao! Ristorante but on both occasions had shown up an hour before the place opened. On both occasions we ended up over at J. Alexander’s instead. The hours listed on Ciao!’s web site are still deceiving, showing times before days, in reverse of what’s the norm.
But hey, we finally made it! It helped to show up after 6 p.m. …
Mary’s serving of Penne con Salsiccia.
So was the restaurant worth the wait, worth the time we’d taken trying to get out there? Is the place any good to begin with? Ciao! Ristorante is part of the group of restaurants owned and operated by Mainstreet Ventures in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With select restaurants in Ann Arbor, the Toledo area, Florida, West Virginia and a couple more now going into Annapolis, Maryland, the small chain is quite particular about what they do and how they do it. We’ve been to multiple restaurants of theirs over the years and so far there hasn’t been a bad one in the bunch.
Ciao! Ristorante is no exception to this. It made for a wonderful date night.
The building itself is a bit interesting. It’s a converted Frisch’s Big Boy, located at the northeast corner of the US-23/Monroe St. interchange, barely south of the Michigan/Ohio line. The remodel added a lounge with booths having roadhouse benchs and a central bar, and a stone fireplace in the middle of the main dining room. There’s plenty of seating, televisons running ESPN and CNN, and quite a few rather busy servers.
Our own server, Ashley, was busy on her own but in her own way made us feel as though we were her only table. She had three tables I could see and probably a couple more. What was interesting was that it seemed everything she was to tell us made her happy. She made the evening special for us as it appeared she was there only to serve, nothing more.
My serving of Salmone con Spinaci.
After some of the Chef’s homemade bread and olive oil for dipping, and a couple light salads (lightly dressed with a few super-sweet and juicy grape tomatoes), we recived our entrées. Mary ordered the Penne con Salsiccia off the Specials menu. The dish is penne pasta tossed with Italian sausage, pea pods, red pepper and grilled fennel in a tomato garlic sauce. I ordered the Salmone con Spinaci, which is grilled North Atlantic salmon served over spinach, wild mushrooms, caramelized onions and corn. Mary’s pasta dish wasn’t too heavy, having a nice blend of flavors and contrast of textures. My salmon was lightly grilled with crunchy grill marks. The spinach was beautifully sautéed with the other vegetables. The caramelized onions under the spinach made for a rare treat.
Our two desserts, my own chocolate and cream-filled Canneloni and Mary’s cornbread and berry pudding over polenta (it had some Italian name we can’t recall) were simply exquisite. Served with some strong, fresh coffee these desserts made for a brilliant finish to a wonderful dinner.
Yeah, we’ll go back. Someday. After 6 p.m. that is.