For Chris and Jill Bacus, making pizza is closer to an art form than a way to prepare a quick meal.
Their pizzas are cooked quick - an 800 degree wood fire oven bakes the specialty pies in two minutes - but no two pizzas look exactly the same as each one is crafted with freshly sliced ingredients, old world technique and an eye toward flavor, not massed produced value.
When "Ciao" opens on July 5, diners will find not only the wood-fired pizzas but also a full menu of Italian dishes served in an environment from the 1920s, as Chris and Jill have crafted the look of an old-school New York storefront with wrought iron fencing, genuine subway signs and cobblestone, right on Southeast 47th Terrace.
Chris and Jill Bacus stand by the wood-fired oven in their new restaurant, Ciao Wood Fired Pizza and Trattoria, in Cape Coral’s downtown. The restaurant serves wood fired pizzas made with fresh, imported ingredients.
They're looking to provide somewhat of a throwback dining experience, if you will, while bringing something new and unique in Cape Coral's downtown.
"We wanted to be in the CRA because of all the functions they have along this road," Chris said. "Plus, people don't hurry so much along Southeast 47th, like they do down the parkway. They slow down, they take their time."
"We want to attract people in the neighborhood, that's why we chose this area," Jill added.
Cooking pizza in the wood fire oven is fast, but the speed is a byproduct of the technique that Chris said is really the only authentic way to cook pizza, like it's been done in Naples, Italy, for generations.
Like most pizzerias, the menu offers pizzas that are already designed, as well as those you can make your self.
But unlike most pizzerias, Ciao serves only the freshest ingredients, sliced specifically for your order, along with imported Italian flour and tomatoes for that authentic Italian taste. They also grow their own herbs for their food - which also includes traditional family recipes that was handed down to Jill from her mother.
Ciao also serves wine and microbrews from around the country, which Chris said can be paired with the pizzas for a unique flavor experience.
"Pizza should not be an afterthought and neither should microbrews," Chris said. "It's a unique experience pairing different flavors, like pairing select wines with your meal."
The doors open on July 5, but a grand opening featuring city officials like Mayor John Sullivan and Community Redevelopment Agency Executive Director John Jacobsen will be held the next day.
CRA Economic Development Director Helen Ramey said the CRA has been anticipating the opening of Ciao's, which is housed in the former home of Bikini Joe's.
"It's an amazing transition they've made inside, from Bikini Joe's to the wonderful Italian-style restaurant they have," Ramey said. "We wish them the very best and we look forward to their grand opening."
Ciao Wood Fired Pizza and Trattoria is located at 823 S.E. 47th Terrace.
Closed Sunday and Monday, the restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 4-9 p.m. for dinner. Friday lunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner 4-10 p.m. Saturday's operating hours are 4-10 p.m.
For more information, contact Ciao directly at 471-0033.