Just across the Tobin bridge from downtown Boston lies the City of Chelsea.
Much like the City of Cambridge, Chelsea is often considered Boston by visitors (probably not by locals!) even though officially it is not.
But that shouldn’t stop you from visiting. With less tourism, there are tiny little neighbourhood restaurants popping up all over, showcasing culinary talent.
Ciao! Pizza and Pasta, a tiny spot serving Italian cuisine, is on Williams Street. Now being a local from North End (that's another Boston area!), I was a bit sceptical of how this Italian restaurant would compare to those of my own neighbourhood. It would be a tough call.
Well, the atmosphere is cosy! There are four bar seats facing into the open kitchen, and another four bar seats facing the street.
Plus, an outdoor enclosed tent area that is kept warm with heaters that work even in the cold New England winter. (And that can be very cold!)
My friend and I snuggled up to the bar facing the kitchen and I could not have been more impressed with the hospitality of the owner. He introduced himself by name, Edson Coimbra, asked where we came from, and by the end of the meal, we were having a heart-to-heart about culture, heritage, and cuisine.
We ordered a couple of glasses of red wine, a funghi pizza, ($14) and a short rib gnocchetti dish ($18) to share.
All the main courses are around this price level - typical of similar pizza and pasta joints across Boston. Europeans especially, accustomed to what you see is what you pay, should note prices need to be increased by around 25 per cent to include service and local taxes.
Back to the food - our real purpose!
The brick oven is visible from the bar and the pizza was cooked to perfection. Slightly cripsy with a light dough, topped with fresh arugula, wood-fired mushrooms, ricotta, and truffle oil.
After the delightful meal, I confessed to Edson that his food was equally good, if not better, than Italian restaurants in the North End. He was pleased to hear that, but probably not surprised. Ciao! Pizza and Pasta has won Boston Magazine’s Best Pizza in 2017, and Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in both 2017 and 2018, and I can see why.
After we finished our meal, we were then pleasantly surprised to be served freshly filled cannoli. After the fantastic food and atmosphere, my friend and I walked to the nearby Mystic Brewery, where a sign stated that if you wanted food, Ciao! Pizza and Pasta would deliver to the brewery.
While we could have combined two stops into one, I wouldn’t. The warm, inviting, and personable hospitality at Ciao! Pizza and Pasta is not to be missed!
by Leah Ramuglia
Ciao is located at 59 Williams Street Chelsea, MA 02150.
Takes all credit cards
Public transport, 111 bus from Boston to Chelsea