If you’re wearing socks, prepare to have them blown clean off. Port Melbourne classic Ciao Cielo has moved into brand new digs, and even opened a cheeky sister bar, Ciao Cucina.
If the space looks familiar, that’s because it was the old Corte on the corner of Bay St and Graham St. A heritage-listed Milano stunner, with a green Bocce lawn out front for al fresco spritzes and Saturday arvo nibbles (very Port Melbourne, darling).
Ciao Cucina is taking over the old courtyard space, converting it into a Mediterranean beer garden (inspired by beachside dining in Portofino)—there’s wood-fired pizzas, plenty of greenery, and a canopy of fairy lights after dark.
If you’re already a big fan of owners Kate Dickins and chef Bryan Nelson (ex Stokehouse), don’t panic. They’re not changing the essence of Ciao Cielo (you can still get the classic spanner crab spaghetti). But there’s a few new faces on the menu too: think whole rainbow trout with pancetta, thyme, lemon and garlic, or a Sardinian-style goat leg with wild olives and fennel. Kate and Bryan basically took an 18-month culinary tour of the Med before opening the original Ciao Cielo, and their food draws broadly on Italian, Greek and French flavours.
Meatheads, you can still tuck into the Bistecca menu, feat. A 22gm John Dee Diamon eye fillet and a 300g Scotch (both served with red wine jus and a selection of mustards). There’s also a cracking pasta and risotto selection if you’re feeling like a carb-splurge. Our pick? Probably the oxtail ragu with gnocchi and Pangrattato, but it’s all effing delicious.
The plan is to run Cielo and Cucina side-by-side. After all, Port Melbourne is all about open-air dining, the dressing up and the dressing down. Fancy date night? Head into Cielo and take a seat on the squishy blue leather benches. Arvo drinks with your mates? Swing into Cucina and go nuts with Aperol, woodfired pizzas, or maybe an artisan charcuterie board.
Image credit: Ciao Cielo