Italian restaurants aren’t difficult to find and that’s particularly the case if you are on a Myrtle Beach golf trip, where a quality meal is as readily available as a good course.
If you want a truly memorable Italian dinner, something much more than good, there are handful of locally-owned establishments that can reasonably stake a claim to being among Myrtle Beach’s best. After a recent meal at Ciao, by reputation one of the area’s premier Italian eateries, your faithful correspondent filed a review.
Like many of Myrtle Beach’s premier restaurants, if you aren’t looking for Ciao, which calls a nondescript strip mall on 52nd Avenue home, you won’t find it, but plenty of people know where to look.
Using only fresh ingredients, everything is made from scratch and speaking to its popularity, despite an expanded dining room, reservations are highly recommended, unless you are good with eating at the bar.
The “Starters” menu offers choices ranging from mozzarella caprese and carpaccio surf & turf to stuffed portobello mushrooms and baked oysters stuffed with caramelized onions, spinach, prosciutto and parmesan sauce. In other words, it’s a nice combination of traditional Italian favorites and the creativity of Ciao’s culinary team.
The veal peppers ($13.95) – hot Italian peppers stuffed with ground veal and topped with marinara and aged mozzarella cheese – were outstanding, but consider yourself warned, the peppers bring the heat. Provided you genuinely liked hot peppers, you won’t go wrong.
Fried calamari ($13.95) is always a favorite and it didn’t disappoint. Lightly fried and served with a side of homemade marinara, it’s an appetizer that will appeal to everyone.
As one would expect, options are aplenty. Various pasta, seafood, chicken, veal and eggplant dishes complete a menu that makes your decision difficult.
In previous visits, I’d ordered the chicken parmesan ($21.95), a staple of every Italian restaurant, and loved it, but I opted to live life on the edge.
The order this time was the shrimp and sausage palermo ($29.95), which included shrimp, mild italian sausage, and fresh tomatoes in a lemon cream sauce over angel hair pasta. The server raved about the dish, and she undersold it.
With a taste of garlic in the sauce, complementing perfectly cooked shrimp and flavorful sausage, the dish could have hardly been better. The chicken parm has long been a favorite but it will be hard to not order the shrimp and sausage palermo next time.
Other members of the party ordered more standard fare entrees – fettuccine alfredo with chicken ($24.95) and eggplant parmesan ($18.95) – and never doubted their selections.
Our table split two desserts – the creme brulee cheesecake ($7.95) and the exotic bomba ($8.50), mango and passion fruit sorbet covered in white chocolate. The cheesecake didn’t disappoint but the exotica bomba, which didn’t sound like something I would leap to order, was outstanding. The sorbet, which was served in what amounted to a white chocolate shell was delicious.
While Ciao has expanded, it remains relatively small so if you have a group of 12-16, sitting together might be difficult but that’s the only drawback. Ciao is touted as one of Myrtle Beach’s finest Italian restaurants and it delivers on that promise. The commitment to preparing fresh food is obvious from the moment bread service begins. If your golf group wants an outstanding Italian meal, Ciao comes with the highest of recommendations.