Ciao Bella Chocolat has a European feel, selling Italian pastries straight from the owner Karen Pacella’s family cookbook. For lunch, you can have Pacella’s Italian soups and paninis or a quiche from local favorite Bakewell.  


But the star of the show is the chocolate, made by hand straight from the cacao bean. Karen was hooked from the first time she tried roasting cacao, and her entire house smelled like brownies. 


If you’ve only had Hershey bars, then you’re missing out. This chocolate is more of an experience. Like the gianduiotto chocolate, which is milk free, yet creamy. And a dark chocolate with a surprising burst of fig flavor.  


“This is very real chocolate, no additives,” Karen says. “Just pure ingredients.” 


After roasting the beans, Karen uses all parts: the bitter cacao nibs can be eaten by themselves or used to make sweet milk chocolate. The husks are used to make tea, which is surprisingly smooth and refreshing, lacking the bitterness of the nib. It’s way better than Lipton’s. And you can get it infused with lavender or peppermint. 


Speaking of tea, you can order a tea party with finger foods or make a reservation to attend one of the more formal tea events: Easter tea on March 30 and Mother’s Day tea service on May 11.  


Coffee from local roasters (because Karen can’t do it all) is also available, if you’d prefer coffee instead of tea – and Italian sodas are great with lunch. 


While Nonna’s hot chocolate is already on the menu, drinking chocolates will soon make their debut. By the way, Ciao Bella is also known for their homemade marshmallows, that pair perfectly with their hot cocoa or a homemade graham cracker.  


Drinking chocolates are a thick form of cocoa, almost like fondue. If you do want a fondue for two, make a reservation for homemade ganache with dipping treats. 


There’s a lot going on at Ciao Bella Chocolat, and while you don’t have to be a chocolate lover, it certainly helps.