Following the success of Friday Road Trip, the Labour Day long weekend saw us (me, Shellie, Thanh, April, Haz and Gaz) pile into two cars for more driving and llama seeking. This trip had a slightly different focus from the previous one – instead of food, our goal was an op shop crawl.
There was still food involved of course, as we scheduled in a lunch stop. Plus we were looking for food styling props so… it always comes back to food in the end.
It’s the circle of a food blogger.
After a couple of very hot hours poking through old stuff we took a break from shopping and headed down to Balnarring for lunch at Ciao Bella.
Ciao Bella is a casual restaurant that specialises in thin crust woodfire pizzas. They also require a bigger sign because we ended up driving straight past it, which forced Shellie Lead Driver Extraordinaire to do the dodgiest u-turn. Eeeeeek.
Fortunately we didn’t create a massive pile up and made it to the restaurant safely. We were all ravenous (who doesn’t pack snacks for a road trip? oh yeah us) and ended up ordering three pizzas, mussels and two pastas to share between the six of us.
For the pizzas, our first option was one on the specials board: local figs, gorgonzola, proscuitto ($29). As you know, I’m having a complete and utter love affair with figs at the moment, plus add in gorgonzola, and I’m all ahhhhhhhhlove.
Our other two pizzas were from the gourmet pizza section.
This was the Cavolo Nero – Cavolo Nero, mozzarella, hot salami, taleggio cheese, roasted onion and rosemary ($23). This was my favourite of the day – it had a good spicy kick, and so much flavour from the other ingredients.
The second was the Tartufo: White truffle oil, pancetta, mozzarella, potatoes, roast onions and rosemary ($23). This was also really nice, though a bit too much carb on carb action for me. The potato seemed really heavy on the thin base.
All the pizzas were done really well. The bases in particular were fantastic – thin and crispy, but not too crispy. This slice isn’t actually the best example (!) with the other slices being more consistent.
We also ordered a serve of mussels ($20) – simple and fresh.
As for the pastas, one was linguini with fresh tuna, garden eggplant, basil, chilli and garlic ($28). This ended up having a pleasant spiciness too, and the pasta was cooked well and flavoursome
The second pasta was agnolotti with beetroot, walnut and goats cheese ($27). I really liked this too – not only did it look really pretty, it also tasted good. While I’m not sure if I’ll ever be a fan, I can handle goats cheese when it’s balanced with other ingredients, and it worked in this pasta. The sweetness of the beetroot filling helped to mask any super goatiness.
I liked Ciao Bella – it had a casual atmosphere and the pizzas in particular were a highlight. A good lunch stop choice.
Afterwards we left for more op shopping. It takes a lot of energy to fossick through old stuff, and fortunately lunch left us all fueled up and ready for more.
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Ciao Bella Pizzeria and Wine Bar
2998 Frankston-Flinders Road
Balnarring VIC 3926
Phone: (03) 5931 3098