Ciao Bella Pizza—Tasty, But Not Very Italian Pizza in Destin, FL

Ciao Bella - outside - RESIZESince moving to Tennessee in 1998, our family has vacationed on the Florida Panhandle just about every year. Back when the kids were still with us, Destin was our primary beachfront, primarily for all the activities it offered. Now empty-nesters, we’ve since moved east to the more subdued adult-centric 30-A area.

This year, Mrs. Pie and I stayed on 30-A’s western end which put us closer to Destin proper offering us the opportunity to revisit some old haunts. One of those was the outdoor Silver Sands outlet mall which has one of our favorite gelato places in addition to a pizza joint. Ciao Bella Pizza da Guglielmo has been there for over 20 years and on the Pizza Snob’s radar ever since this blogging habit began.

Ciao Bella sits in a prominent corner spot in the mall and even provides some nice outdoor seating. I recalled that its décor, Italian menu and advertising, gave it the look of a traditional pizza joint. However, while I found its pizza to be somewhat pleasant, it was far from what CB’s looks made me expect.

Ciao Bella - inside - RESIZEI went in to get things started while my better half toured some of the shops. Mid-afternoon, there were no slices (lunchtime only) so I ordered a 12-inch plain cheeser for $13. The wait was about what I would expect.

On its color alone, this pizza just didn’t look the part. It was so light and yellow that it almost looked like an order of nachos! It was pretty much all cheese and crackers (an unkind reference to the crust) and was almost totally void of tomato sauce. It looked so un-Italian!

Getting down to business, it was a noisy pizza to consume with its dry and brittle crust cracking with every bite. The word that best described the cheese was “strange.” Not bad, but just not right.

Ciao Bella - pizza - RESIZEThe pizza did have a nice firm crispness to it, and all-in-all wasn’t a bad eat. I just didn’t feel like I was eating pizza. It was more like an appetizer served at a French restaurant.

Mrs. Pie doctored hers up with the table offerings of oregano, hot peppers and parm cheese and seemed more pleased than I did. My rule has always been to play the hand that I’ve been dealt. I admit though that I did try her concoction, and it did taste pretty good.

Kudos to our waitperson who was uber-friendly, caring and delightful. But, while it was far from being a miserable meal, it was about as untraditional as ketchup on a hot dog! We did however wind up eating and enjoying the whole thing. It wasn’t bad food. It just wasn’t the kind of pizza I know and love.

PIZZA SNOB RATING *** Better Than Dominos
Ciao Bella Pizza da Guglielmo
Silver Sands Premium Outlets, 10676
Emerald Coast Parkway Miramar Beach, FL 32550
850-654-3040
www.ciaobellapizzas.com

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