Blair Wallace, Ciao Baci
A Little Rock native, Blair Wallace has a long history in the city’s hospitality industry. When she first began working at Ciao Baci right after college, it was her first introduction to the world of fine dining, specialty cocktails and fine wine. Later in life, when she had the chance to buy the restaurant she loved, she knew should couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Blair, what are some of the things you love most about Little Rock?
Little Rock is so special. There is just something about this city that draws people in. My wife Stephanie and I moved to Hawaii for a couple of years and it was paradise, but ... Little Rock kept calling our names. Family, friends, community, ... it’s engrained in my heart. I truly love this place.
How would you describe Little Rock’s dining scene to someone who’s never visited the city before?
Prepare to be wowed! I think Little Rock's food scene is one of the best in the south. I would gladly put us up next to some of the other major southern foodie cities. We don't get as much press as a lot of larger cities, but I am fine with that. The longer we keep this our little secret (… and the longer that I’m able to eat without waiting 3 weeks for a reservation), the better! Specifically, I think folks would be surprised by all of the incredible food trucks we have in Little Rock. I have been super impressed with the quality of Little Rock's food truck game. It's unique and exciting.
If someone hasn’t been to Ciao Baci before, what are a few “must try” dishes?
Baci was originally put on the map for the amazing calamari. We have so many dining options--tapas style, our chef's tasting, home-made desserts... Dining at Baci is your journey to choose. Currently, my favorites are the Cucumber Dip, Wye Mountain Mushroom Rissoto and the Green Curry Catfish.
Ciao Baci is the very definition of a “neighborhood restaurant” and it is such an integral part of the Hillcrest neighborhood. What is it that makes that neighborhood so special?
Hillcrest is where people move to feel like part of a community, an extended family. From walking everywhere with their family, enjoying First Thursday (a monthly street festival hosted by neighborhood shops and restaurants), going from shop to shop, restaurant to restaurant, there is so much to do. We’re so successful because all of the businesses that support each other, it’s almost like we’re actually family. We really want each other to succeed, and we have some amazing restaurants and shops, to boot. I think the amount of options we have in such a little space and the family atmosphere we all provide, make it super special.
One final question for you … If you were giving someone a tour of Little Rock, where would be some of the can’t-miss places you’d take them?
Of course, the Hillcrest Neighborhood. Rock Town Distillery, K-Bird (best Thai food ever), Bark Bar for the fur babies, Allsopp Park, Rattlesnake Ridge (for hiking and climbing) and last, but not least... Ciao Baci!
Now, what are you waiting for? Make Ciao Baci your next dining destination. Or, if you’re interested in learning more about the Hillcrest Neighborhood, look right here.
Know someone who’s a perfect subject for our Little Rock, Big Voices blog? Email us at [email protected].