5 Things to Know about Thursday’s Opening of Ciao Osteria

NoVA restaurateur Sal Speziale opens another Italian place.

Chef Antonino Di Nicola making mozzarella / Photo Courtesy of Ciao Osteria

By Stefanie Gans

1. Authentic
Ciao Osteria sent Chef Antonino Di Nicola (who used to cook at Lorton‘s Pan e Vino) to Los Angeles for training in authentic Neapolitan pizza-making. The restaurant hopes to become certified by VPN Americas.

2. The Gear
Authenticity comes at a price. At more than $30,000, the restaurant is home to a 6,000-pound oven from Naples, specialized refrigeration equipment, dough mixer and marble built with a sloped lip to better help move the dough onto the peel and into the oven.

3. The Ingredients
Italian imported bottled water, San Benedetto, and housemade mozzarella will be used for the pizzas. Says Sal Speziale, who owns Ciao Osteria with his wife Gina, about the mozzarella, “It’s a completely different taste. You know when you buy a tomato at a store and you bite into it and there’s no taste? And have you ever had a garden tomato and you bite into it and it’s like, ‘wow?’”

4. Seven
This is Speziale’s seventh restaurant (including two night clubs). He opened his first, Paradiso Restaurant on Franconia Road in 1991, which is now owned by his sister. The Italian-born and New York-raised (from 14 years old), Speziale is also a commercial airline pilot for American Airlines and was a fighter pilot in the Air Force.

5. Ciao
“When you go to your mom’s house and you’re comfortable and you don’t want to leave, that’s what I wanted,” says Speziale on the vibe he hopes to create at Ciao Osteria. The name plays into that too: “When you meet someone you say ‘ciao’ and when you say goodbye you say ‘ciao’.” It’s a cycle of greetings and beginnings, a concept already attracting attention. “I’ve already been asked to put one in Leesburg,” says Speziale. / Ciao Osteria opens Thursday at 11:30 a.m.; 14115 St. Germain Dr., Centreville