Italian food has a chameleon quality that keeps us hooked, no matter the season. Whether you want to load up on carbs on a chilly night tucked up on the sofa or celebrate a beautiful day with bright salads and a glass of crisp wine, it always knows best.
When only the freshest homemade Italian cuisine will do the trick, look no further than Ciao Bella. Pasta dishes, soups, salads and sandwiches are prepared daily at this tiny canal-side Amsterdam trattoria, using only the most authentic ingredients and a whole lot of passion.
In true Italian fashion, Ciao Bella know their way around pasta. Quieten rumbling stomachs with a slice of traditional lasagna made with rich ground beef and baked to perfection al forno. Or try our favourite, the tortellini porcini – homemade pasta, stuffed with wild mushrooms and covered in a creamy truffle sauce – for a real treat.
When lunch or dinner dates call for something smaller, but no less satisfying, give one of Ciao Bella's popular sandwiches a go. Served in either white or brown spelt ciabatta bread, choices include spicy cured Italian pork sausage mortadella with rocket and tomato or the Caprese – fresh and creamy mozzarella with pesto, rocket and tomato.
It's thanks to owner Luigi Barban and his family that this little piece of Italy is nestled alongside the Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam today.
The Venetian opened the tiny trattoria several years ago, and now runs it with his wife and daughter. They aim to deliver 'super fresh and super Italian food' to the city's hungry residents – so why not take them up on the offer? You could even order a mix of side dishes to start, serving them up like irresistible antipasti.
And once you've tried their mains, you'll believe that Venice has come to town. Opt for the Melanzane Alla Parmigiana – baked aubergine layered with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, or the Spaghetti Meatballs – homemade with ground beef and served in a rich tomato sauce. These dishes really do bring the best of Italy to your home.
A range of super-fresh salads, like the carpaccio salad – with peppery rocket, pine nuts and grated parmesan drizzled with pesto and topped with thinly-sliced raw beef fillet – let the ingredients do all the talking. Or for something more comforting, dive into a warming bowl of tomato and pumpkin soup, served with parmesan cheese and long, slender grissini rosemary breadsticks to dunk.
Sweet tooth? You'll be pleased to know you can also get your sugar fix at Ciao Bella too. Finish your feast off with a slice of Torta Della Nonna – a sharp lemon pastry – or a creamy classic tiramisu.