House-made pasta is the focus at this 1-year-old restaurant in Roseville.
Marc Riedel, the chef behind Ciao in Roseville, has an Italian looking over his shoulder. It’s his business partner, Miranda Mulgeci, a native of Lucca in Italy’s Tuscany region. She considers it her job to make sure that the food at Ciao is as authentically Italian as possible.
The pair met while working together at a restaurant in downtown Roseville and teamed up to open Ciao last December. They wanted to serve simple, seasonal Italian food, focusing on pastas made fresh every day.
Mulgeci has strong opinions on the subject of pasta. Spaghetti is too thin for a rich meat sauce; the wide, flat pappardelle noodle is a better choice. Penne is perfect with pesto or ragu but not much else. “Penne is for lazy people,” she says. She’s joking, but she also means it.
Riedel’s kitchen turns out lovely, silken pastas, including tagliatelle, pappardelle, lasagna and ravioli. (And, yes, penne.) In classic Italian fashion, they’re sauced with a light hand. Spaghetti amatriciana is served with a quick pan sauce, made to order with garlic, onions, chilies, smoked pork belly and a splash of white wine. Pappardelle with wild mushrooms and Calabrese sausage shows a similarly light touch, despite the hearty ingredients. (The spicy sausage, made in-house, is studded with fennel seeds and Calabrian chilies.) And for a dish of tagliatelle al tartufo, tender ribbons of pasta are tossed in a simple butter sauce and topped with shaved truffles and massive shards of grana padano cheese. It’s buttered noodles for grown-ups, and Mulgeci often eats an entire bowl for lunch—she can’t get enough of it.
Riedel tweaked his four-hour marinara sauce after Mulgeci informed him it was too robust. “We don’t cook it as much,” she told him. For the tiramisu, she insists on using a particular brand of imported ladyfingers because they have the perfect dry, delicate consistency that allows them to properly sop up espresso without becoming soggy.
Riedel lived in Madrid and worked in the Bay Area before moving to Sacramento. Here, he has cooked at a number of diverse places: Rio City Cafe, Tuli Bistro, McCormick & Schmick’s, Fat’s Asia Bistro. At Ciao, he manages to stray a bit from the menu’s Italian theme, offering rib-eye steak with sauce Diane, Atlantic salmon with citrus vinaigrette and, for dessert, crepes and banoffee, a rich banana pudding. “I draw influences from everywhere,” he says.
Mulgeci oversees the wine list, which is heavily tilted toward Italian wines. A wine distributor warned her that Roseville diners wouldn’t go for wines from her homeland, but that’s turned out not to be the case. The list of 120 wines includes some big-ticket super Tuscans, including Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore at $280 a bottle and Bolgheri Sassicaia at $400.
Ciao occupies a large space, with 130 seats indoors and a big patio outside. Filling such a large restaurant is a challenge, says Mulgeci’s husband, Joe Charity, who helps out behind the scenes. “That’s the nervous part of the whole thing.” And Riedel notes that most new restaurants fold within the first three months. That Ciao is still open and doing well a year later is cause for celebration. So on Dec. 6, to celebrate its first year in business, the restaurant will offer a $45 buffet featuring every dish on the menu, along with some specials.
1410 E. Roseville Parkway, Roseville