The Myrtle Beach area is home to more than 1,500 restaurants, including nearly every chain that has a presence in the south, but what your group should pay attention to are the countless locally owned eateries.
Hiding in stand-alone buildings and strip malls throughout the Grand Strand are largely anonymous restaurants waiting to be discovered by visitors in search of an outstanding meal.
Ciao!, an Italian restaurant located near 52nd Avenue N. on Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, is one of those places. You could drive by without noticing as there are no flashing signs to lure hungry golfers, but Ciao! is worth taking the time to find.
The atmosphere, like nearly every restaurant along the beach, is casual but classy, and the food is homemade. All of Ciao’s sauces are made fresh daily and many of the restaurant’s most popular dishes – Mama’s meatballs and lasagna – are family recipes, as is the mozzarella.
We could go on, but you get the point: Ciao! serves authentic Italian food.
There are no bad choices on the menu, only degrees of good, but here is some of what we recommend. I tend to favor appetizers over salad, so with that in mind, the veal peppers ($12.95), mozzarella caprese ($9.95) and the stuffed portobello mushroom ($12.95) are all home runs.
The veal peppers are spicy and topped with the fresh marinara and aged (homemade) mozzarella. If you want something a little lighter, the caprese is delightful.
Best of all is the portobello mushroom, which is stuffed with jumbo lump crab meat and topped with a lemon cream sauce. It’s outstanding.
The entree menu is varied, but based on personal experience, the chicken parm ($18.95) and the prosciutto wrapped grouper ($27.95) top my list. The chicken parm is a simple favorite and it never disappoints.
So long as you like fish, the locally caught, pan seared grouper covered with prosciutto is delightful, especially when it’s accompanied by fresh tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms in a chardonnay butter sauce.
Throw in a wine list that rivals nearly any in the area, and Ciao! has all the ingredients necessary for an outstanding meal.