185 Bleecker St. at MacDougal St.(212-673-8901). Subway. A, C, E, F, V, Grand St to W 4th St. Sun-Thu 11am-1am, Fri, Sat 11am- 2am. Average main course: $12. MC, V.
Owner Marcello Assante has boldly commandeered the nexus of Bleecker and MacDougal-the four-corner, four-caf epicenter of tourist hell-and four-corner, four-cafe epicenter of tourist hell-and planted a flag for the locals. Ciao (which replaced 30-year-old Caf Borgia) reflected Assante's Neapolitan roots. It's a place of rough-hewn wooden table, flowing Chianti Classico and inexpensive, authentic food. Ciao nails the little things from bruschetta with just enough garlic to silky profiteroles. It's strength lies in its imported Setaro pasta, cooked perfectly in every variation and served with fresh sauces inspired by Assante's mother (we still smell like basil).