Ciao Bella | Albany Park | Italian, Pizza | Restaurant
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click to enlarge Ciao Bella Pizza

Ciao Bella Pizza

Mike Sula

A family-owned spot putting out pizza from a wood-fired oven.

Our Review

A cross-cultural surprise in a strip mall, this joint is run by a pair of Egyptian cousins that specialize in wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. These pies are the real thing: thin, fragile platforms of dough with the (typical) slightly mushy nucleus and a raised crust and upskirt stippled with toasty char. The crusts are a bit soft on the inside, a bit crispy on the outside, but lightly glazed with a bright, subtly sweet sauce, and sprinkled with a temperate amount of cheese, they more than support their payloads. Better still, they are a tremendous value, most coming in anywhere from $1 to $9 cheaper than, say, Spacca Napoli or Pizzeria da Nella. In fact, at $6.95 the standard margherita, with regular mozzarella may be the city's best pizza deal (bufala mozz is $4 more). Even so, I challenge anyone to spurn the relatively pricier Tirolese, layered just out of the oven with thin strips of speck that begin to melt atop the light understory of bubbling Gorgonzola ($12.95). There are a dizzying variety of meat, seafood, and cheese pies that include some fairly unusual toppings infrequently seen outside of Italy (hot dogs! apples! tuna!). There are a few calzones (nutella!) and antipasti plates on the menu, but the pizzas alone at this no-frills BYO should—if there's any justice—bring this barren strip mall to life.

Mike Sula

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