After a majestic poetry debut -- view the video evidence here, destined to become a viral sensation -- at Earth Day, there was only one spot to go for some true authentic Montana style Italian food. No, I'm not talking Olive Garden or even Tomato Street. Here at Team SpoCOOL we're all about Ciao Mambo.
Ciao Mambo has made its way here from Whitefish, MT, one of its five locations. Their slogan? "Where even the pasta is sexy!"
I must stop here and confess to feeling vaguely disappointed at the lack of sexiness. I'm not sure exactly what I expected (hot marinara on spaghetti action doesn't really sound all that sexy) but at any rate, the interiors reminded me of a slightly nicer version of Tomato Street.
The Tomato Street comparison seems kind of apt, as the similarities are plentiful. It's all about the "fun" and "stacked plates" and... Well, you get it. I think these kind of establishments have their place in any city, seeing they're "family friendly" and all, but that doesn't mean they're particularly awesome food-wise.
And Ciao Mambo is not awesome. Any place serving "Italian nachos" simply can not be. Yet there I was, trying just that, because really, the concept is so ridiculous it had to be tasted.
I read the actual description after eating, and was surprised to learn the dish was served with Alfredo sauce, meatballs and prosciutto. This, apparently, covered the "lightly fried" pasta sheets. Personally I would have guessed the toppings consisted of Oscar Mayer bologna and watered down Velveeta, so shows what I know.
The gnocchi must have been frozen at some point. This is to be expected from this kind of sexy Italian spot, I suppose, but at least defrost and cook the damn thing properly. The texture was off, almost rubbery. The marinera sauce -- and hey, every dish can be customized to your liking, so just pick whatever sauce you want -- was bland.
On the upside, the huckleberry mojito was pretty great.
The food is dull here, but Ciao Mambo has its place. It's just not a place I'd choose to frequent.