Ciao Amore

When people ask me how Cristina’'s of Sun Valley came to be, I think of my mother at the door of our old farmhouse, saying, “Ciao amore.” She said that to me twice a year for 20 years as I left to go back to America. Her words expressed all the truths, the aspirations, and the apprehensions that a mother and daughter share. I was traveling to a land unknown to her. She hoped to see me again, but was not sure she would.

Cia amore (literally, “hello, love; good-bye, love”) is a phrase that defies translations. Depending upon how you say it— your inflection, your body language, and to whom you say it—it can mean many things. In my mother’s case, it meant she game me permission to go off far away.

I turned 60 this year, and looking back I realize that my life has been like a collage—a piece here, a piece there. Many times I have found myself asking, Did I really do that? I have always operated on the power of gut feelings. When you know something to be right. I have heard the whispers telling me to conform, to fit in. But I have never been able to subscribe to the conventional way of doing things. Instead, I have lived, as we say, con gusto—taking risks, exploring, doing things I could hardy imagine. That is the answer as to how this restaurant came about!

I like to think of my restaurant not as a business but as a cozy place—intimate, busy, loud at times, like the traditional trattorie I grew up with. Filled with customers whose eccentricity is surpassed only by their laughter. The tables may be plain and worn by 20 years of use, they many be covered with white linens at times, but they are always warm and inviting. The house wine is always good and the food has a timelessness and comforting quality of a meal you might prepare in your own home. It is a place where you can feel comfortable dipping crusts of bread into pools of delicious sauce.

We Florentines don’t worry too much about calories. We are real golosi—passionate about our food, particolari about gelato. We like fatto a mano (made by hand), these days in a new way, with curiosity and creativity. We weave the old into the new. We dream about soffritto (sautéed things) and we smash pitted olives, we spice them up with peperoncino, and guess what we call them? Le olive dell’amore!

Our customers come and go. We welcome them to our table and we say good-bye when they leave. The restaurant is more than food, more than wine and the tables; it is who we are. I think of my mother and ciao amore. -Cristina


Celebrated Sun Valley, Idaho restaurateur Cristina Ceccatelli Cook’s third cookbook—--Cristina'’s of Sun Valley Con Gusto! (Gibbs Smith)--—bursts with the Tuscan attitude of appreciating the simple, enjoying the beautiful, and living life with passion and joy. Whether you want to prepare an elegant dinner or a simple sandwich, these inspired and approachable recipes will bring Cristina’s signature style into your home. Start with an antipasti of Marinated Artichoke Hearts, Prosciutto Cones, and Salmon Cakes, accompanied by refreshing Limoncello Spritzers. Linger over Bavettine all Carretierra. Then finish with Cristina’s famous Candied Orange Peels dipped in Chocolate and Granita al Caffè. Like Cristina’s loyal customers, you will return to Cristina’'s of Sun Valley Con Gusto! again and again.

Please visit to order your copy of Cristina'’s of Sun Valley Con Gusto!

''Ciao Amore'' is from the book Cristina's of Sun Valley Con Gusto!, by Cristina Ceccatelli Cook. Copyright © 2012 by Cristina Ceccatelli Cook.

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