510 Pearl Street | 858-263-4344 |

by Robby Robinson

Some things are just cool – Ray Bans, Brad Pitt, Cabo, – and Ciao Ciao Piadina.

Who can open a restaurant with outdoor seating in a tiny parking lot – paved in asphalt – with a view of a vacuum cleaner repair shop on one side and a noisy flow of Pearl Street traffic on the other?  Ciao Ciao Piadina can. And it works!  The dog-friendly patio is chock full of eye-catching tables and chairs – and get this – there is a nifty Vespa on display.  They opened with a bang and stayed that way.  More bang – there is a DJ playing vibe-y music on the weekends.

The interior of the restaurant is compact and absolutely alluring, with pretty, swingy pastel Italian fresco murals and a large painting of The David’s ray-banned head (fab Instagram backgrounds). The white bar and comfy banquets scream “Come on in – you’ll have fun in here.”  And you will.  The airiness and the light palettes instantly lend to a feeling of chic coziness and casual relaxation. Time easily melts away.

Here’s what to know before you go:

Piadina – is an artisan Italian flatbread sandwich and Ciao Ciao has seven winners.  How about this one?  Grilled eggplant, mozzarella, parmigiana cheese, heirloom cherry tomatoes, balsamic reduction, and basil.  Or this – spicy Calabrese salami, aged provolone cheese, heirloom cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and mayo? And the other five are just as swell.

Aperitivo- well, this is more or less a lifestyle.  The Italian aperitivo is a pre-meal drink served with small bites and salty snacks.  It’s a time of day where friends meet, chat, and have some grins- a social club, actually.  Ciao Ciao offers you one drink and unlimited bites of finger foods, 4-9 pm, Monday – Sunday. $29.

Let’s not ignore the delicious desserts.  Anyone up for a marshmallow cream brûlée with artisan gianduia gelato, caramel, and almond biscotti crumble?  I’m in if you are.

And now ——the wines.  ALL of the wines poured at Ciao Ciao are imported from Italy.  Nice.  The owners are proud of their selections as there are many, including sparkling, rose, white, red, and orange. Huh?  Orange wine, also known as skin-contact white wine, is a type of wine made from white wine grapes where the grape skins are not removed and therefore stay in contact with the juice for days, or even months.  Chianti Classico Riserva Tuscany is a popular red with the Ciao Ciao crowd as is Cave Rose di Una Notte, Sardinia – a much-requested rose. The Attems Pinot Grigio Ramato is also a restaurant fave – an orange!

So who came up with this smooth Italian concept?  Francesco Burnazzi, whose dream was to bring piadina to Southern California partnered with the geniuses of Ambrogio 15 and creative director Lauren Turton.

And creative she is!  Lauren’s mom denied her a candy bar at age 8 – telling her to buy her own candy bar.  “I have no money”, says Lauren.  “Figure it out”, says Mom.  And Lauren figured it out.  She learned how to make jewelry, sold it to her mom’s friends, and bought the candy bar.  She thinks it was a Snickers. This episode became Lauren’s life theme – she just figures things out and it works.  With every kind of job under her belt (house cleaner, babysitter, Krispy Kreme Donuts server, Express sales associate, caterer, server, bartender, corporate trainer, restaurant manager, whew!), the laundry list of tasks has now led her to restaurant owner, business coach, #1 best selling author of Soul Career Clarity: The 8 Step Formula to Breakthrough to Your Next Level of Success, and public speaker.  She also is Vice President of Help the Kani, a nonprofit that supports women and children in southern India. Egads – what a resume!

Ciao Ciao Piadina brings a dash of Italian philosophy to a cupful of La Jolla style.  The two matchups are a superb combo.  Benvenuto -you’ll be delighted that you stopped in!

Open for food, fun, and fabulousness Tuesday thru Sunday.