Making a go of it as an Italian restaurant with Thai fusion is a tough task in Bangkok. You’re competing against maybe 60 other similar venues, so you need a gimmick or some reason for patrons to come to your particular eatery and not one of the dozens elsewhere. Read on to hear about Ciao Italian Café’s hyper-local gimmick and how it seems to be working for its neighborhood.
Ciao, not to be confused with the eatery in the Mandarin Oriental, is located in Monopoly Park on Industrial Ring Road, near several of the condominiums that ring Rama III Road. While the design is set up like contemporary bistro dining where you could take a date, the reality is the crowd is almost exclusively families. So Ciao’s gimmick is a kid-friendly neighborhood spot that gives the allure of exclusivity in a plastic community mall with dressed up decor.
The restaurant is airy and filled with several plants, both inside and outside its bay windows overlooking the highway. Faux brick walls and pictures of Italian scenes on the walls tell you where you’re supposed to be envisioning as you chew on that mouthful of fresh pasta. Ciao makes a few of their pastas fresh, and KohSpot went with spaghetti in a gorgonzola sauce with basil leaves (200 baht). The execution was perfect, with tender pasta and a pungent sauce that wasn’t overpowering.
The salmon pizza with olives and rocket (350 baht) was tasty but quite salty, to be expected when you throw capers in the mix as well. The desserts aren’t worth bothering, all served in fruit cocktail glasses. The dark chocolate mousse (120 baht) was neither dark nor made of chocolate, more likely a Jell-O pudding powder with chips on top.
The wait staff needed about a half-hour to add up the bill, even though the process is computerized and involves pushing a button, but that’s hardly a rare trait in Bangkok.
Ciao is a worthwhile stop for dinner if you live in the area, but it’s not worth the trouble if you don’t.
Location: First floor of Monopoly Park, 59/27 Industrial Ring Road, if you’re coming from Rama III Road, turn off at the exit for King Bhumibol 1&2 Bridges, and the mall is on your left as you start to ascend to the bridges.
Mass transit: Bus Rapid Transit from Chong Nonsi BTS can get you close, but you really need to drive or take a taxi to reach Ciao.
Hours: 11:30 am-midnight daily