By RICHARD PALOMA
We want people to come here and not want to leave.
PHOTOS BY RICHARD PALOMA/ 209 Magazine
fter a five-year absence from the local restaurant scene, Ciao Bella Ristorante and chef/owner Chau Nguyen have returned to Modesto, pleasing longtime customers and newcomers seeking authentic Italian cuisine. Formerly at H Street and 13th Avenue in Modesto, Ciao Bella opened up in November at the Century Center at 2401 E. Orangeburg Ave., presenting a Mediterranean ambiance and European flair inside. “I just missed the atmosphere and people – the whole environment,” said Nguyen, who closed the doors to the original location due to the dip in the economy. “It’s the only job where I get so many compliments in a day.”
Since he reopened his kitchen, he hasn’t had a slow night. Nguyen, a 1984 Viet Nam refugee and a 1999 Modesto High grad, said he built the restaurant to be a cozy, friendly establishment using fresh
ingredients and making everything from scratch. “It may take a bit longer, but it is made to order,” Nguyen said. “We want people to come here and not want to leave.” Don’t let Nguyen’s Asian heritage fool you, as he got his start preparing Italian cuisine at the Mediterranean Market and Grille where he spent eight years and was mentored by former Modesto Mayor Carmen Sabatino and some of the finest Italian chefs in the area. 209MAGAZINE
Chef Chau Nguyen prepares the stuffed calamari special. “I grew a passion for food and to create those authentic flavors that made people happy,” Nguyen said.