Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, April 25, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Ciao, Baby

U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao pleaded a prior engagement, and the North Texas Chow Chow Club refused to lend out a dog for the afternoon, so homophone-loving Chow, Baby listened to Dallas band Chao on the way to chowing down at Ciao. Accidental simpatico: The ethereal voice of Regina Chellew and the graceful, intricate tunes swirling in Chow, Baby’s head proved a perfect soundtrack for the charming, imaginative restaurant.

Ciao is the new venture of brothers Franco and Bobby Albanese, the brains behind the effervescent Fizzi and the classy-Italian Ruffino’s. They’ve beautifully remade the former outpost of the Amon Carter Museum into a chic, airy space. Pale yellow walls and large windows, framing Bass Hall across the street, made Chow, Baby feel floaty. Green-gray slate tables and sturdy wooden chairs were grounding.

The lunch menu induced sticker shock: The prices are reasonable! (They’re higher at dinner, but not ridiculously so.) Traditional appetizers like insalata Caprese and calamari fritti are in the five-dollar range; for a buck more, there are upscale pizzas like the light, meatless Margarita. Chow, Baby wolfed down Gemelli Siciliana ($8.50) — penne with eggplant and salami in a garlicky marinara sauce — and stole a bite of Shrimp Scampi ($10.95) served with perfectly al dente capellini. Everything was fresh, stylish, and radiant. Chow Yun-Fat would love it.

Peaches to the Converted

Confused by last week’s mini-heat wave, photosensitive Chow, Baby thought late May had arrived early and stopped off at Ridgmar Farmers Market, across Hwy. 183 from Ridgmar Mall, for some Parker County peaches. Sadly, there’re still weeks to go before them babies are perfectly ripe and juicy. Chow, Baby filled its basket instead with real cane-sugar Dr Pepper, a whimsical wooden sign that read “Don’t Stand Behind a Coughing Cow,” a bag of organic bat guano, bottled water from Keller (who knew?), and a lifetime supply of homey-looking salsas, relishes, and jams. One-stop shopping!

Ridgmar Farmers Market Café, home of Cowtown Bar-B-Q, is a haven for wilting shoppers. Chow, Baby, who in a fit of childish pique many years ago, vowed that as an adult it would eat dessert first and then see if it had room for vegetables, filled up on homemade banana pudding and chocolate cake (99¢ each). Next course was crisp and tender Friday-special fried catfish ($5), served with a choice of two typical barbecue sides. Make sure one is Lynn’s Potato Salad. Chow, Baby also sampled the barbecue sandwiches ($1.95-3.25). Sliced or chopped, beef or pork, all were tangily scrumptious. The Café also sells meat by the pound and sides by the quart, for those with Chow, Baby-sized appetites — or a whole lot of shopping left to do.


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