It’s springtime and you’re not going to want to miss the new menu at Ciao Baci. Treat yourself to one of Little Rock’s best patio spots and enjoy the colorful offerings from the refreshed lineup.
Chef Jeffrey Owen describes the menu as “Globally influenced, seasonally driven and providing a little bit of Southern charm.” He serves up dishes that include local flavors and fresh produce while delivering the reliable nostalgic taste you may already know and love.
Think Italian influences, Southern charm, English, Swiss and Nordic flavor inspiration. All that, plus a little freshness goes a long way as Chef Owen says, “We grow into the seasonal menu. We’re always evolving, always changing. ” As far as inspiration goes, Owen often draws from his own crew which runs the gamut in kitchen experiences.
Time to dive in.
If you are looking to enjoy a cool dish on a warm day, the Arugula Salad is a solid option. “We try to capture the flavors of the season,” Owen says, and we can say with confidence that this dish does just that. The flavors and textures work perfectly together and you’re met with a light, tangy option with each delicious bite. It is served with Fresh Berries, Pistachios, Chèvre, Toasted Granola, and Honey Vinaigrette.
Perfect patio weather begs for a decent taco or two, and Baci’s Blackened Catfish Tacos are a tasty trio. Owen says, “I picked this one to showcase because it’s already a crowd-favorite.” Think Blackened Catfish atop an enticing compilation of Chow Chow, Citrus Crema, Pepper Jelly, and Cilantro. These tacos are fresh, light and not overly-seasoned, but flavorful enough to make your tastebuds tingle.
As Chef Owen will tell you, the pasta brought on several unprovoked “Mmms” and other yummy noises from the staff. After the first bite, it’s easy to see why. The pasta is a local favorite for good reason.
The Pesto Rigatoni Pasta features juicy Blackened Gulf Shrimp, spicy grilled Andouille sausage, Parmesan, Spinach and Fresh Tomatoes. The combination of flavors are comforting and hearty, but the dish doesn’t feel heavy like you might expect. Give it a try the next time you’re there.
If you’re looking for something to stick to your ribs, we suggest trying the Rye Crusted Pork Schnitzel. The schnitzel shines with full-flavor sides including the must-try Pimento Mac and Cheese – and ode to childhood, and a livened Broccoli with Red Pepper Jelly. This one is worth the caloric intake on cheat day.
Even if you’re a regular at the Hillcrest staple, you’ll likely want to revisit the tasting menu. The Chef’s Tasting option includes a five-course progression of small plates of nightly changing offerings. It’s nothing short of a creative and educational experience. With a cost per person of $45 and availability of Monday through Saturday evenings, this could be one of the best deals in the Rock.
Keeping it simple? Don’t forget one of the mouth-watering staples, the Creekstone Beef Burger. Order it with fancy sauce, and go ahead and add American Cheese and Bacon. Your tastebuds will be swimming in a heavenly burger stupor.
Stop by to check it out for yourself. Ciao Baci is open Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and closed Sunday.