Ciao Monte to open at former location of Leo’s Kitchen in Winter Park
Ciao Monte, a new Italian-American fusion restaurant, is saying hello to the mountains of Winter Park.
The restaurant will fill a vacancy at Cooper Creek left by Leo’s Kitchen vacating the space earlier this year, and the new owners hope to open as early as the end of October.
“We’re planning a soft opening at the end of this month,” said Chef Hari Karki, who’s part of the ownership team. “Then we’ll have a grand opening probably in November.”
What: Ciao Monte Food and Wine
Where: 47 Cooper Creek Way, Winter Park
When: Sunday to Thursday – 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday – 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
*subject to change
More info: coopercreeksquare.com/restaurants/ciao-monte
Ciao Monte is an extension of a Cooper Creek classic, the Indian and Nepalese restaurant Durbar. Karki, food and beverage manager Dev Pokharel and the owners of Durbar have partnered to open Ciao Monte.
Karki said they want the two restaurants to remain unique, so they settled on Italian because of their knowledge of and experience with the cuisine. Karki, who received his culinary arts degree from the University of Charleston, said cooking Italian dishes is what he’s most comfortable with.
“Definitely, we wanted to do something different and I have a background with the food,” he said. “This was perfect for us so that’s why we’re expanding.”
Ciao Monte’s lunch and dinner menus feature classic Italian staples, such as lasagna, pizza and antipasti, as well as American comfort food, including wings, burgers and steaks. The restaurant will also offer an extensive wine list, specialty cocktails and beer.
When it comes to the dishes, Karki said they have taken great care to create unique and delicious options utilizing local and imported ingredients, such as bison and burrata cheese, depending on the plate.
“We’re serving more authentic Italian food and then some American comfort food,” he said.
Despite plating high quality dishes, the restaurant will be casual and welcoming, Karki said. Ciao Monte’s atmosphere hopes to highlight the best of the mountains and the best of Italian cuisine.
Ultimately, the owners want to build a reputation at Ciao Monte’s as one of the best options for lunch and dinner in town, thus ensuring a stable, year-round business.
“We see the opportunity here,” he said. “I want to focus on the locals. … As much as we can, we want to help the community.”
Ciao Monte expects to host a soft opening toward the end of October and will announce a grand opening date on their social media pages.
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Winter Park approved an across-the-board raise for town staff that had initially been paused due to the coronavirus pandemic’s expected impact on the budget.