The Old and the New Places to Eat

Construction workers have started to tear down my beloved old DFAC #2. At the start of the job, the scene looked like this:

 Tearing down old DFAC 2

If you look closely, you’ll see dozens of stickers people had put up on the entrance wall. This was a beloved DFAC, and I must have eaten breakfast here 250 times until it was closed. You already know what I think of the new DFAC #2 (in the background, above). So I’m sad whenever I ride by this site. It now looks like this, with much of it torn down already:

 Tearing down DFAC 2 later


There is a new place to eat now, it is called Ciano Italian Restaurant. It’s a brand-new construction, located next to the USO and across from the MWR East Rec Center, quite close to the PX. This place is doing good business, judging by the large groups of people that I’ve seen eating here. You can see that they’ve painstakingly recreated the aesthetic of Tuscany in this fine Italian villa:


Cianos Restaurant

Well, at least they have picnic benches on the porch, which some people like. The inside brings to mind the finest trattorias of Florence:

 Inside Cianos

Most of the cooks are Turkish or Nepalese TCN’s. I don’t like this place. The entire thing is sterile and lacking in style, and the food consists of mediocre pizza for $10 a pie. I see no reason to eat here rather than going to a nice place like DFAC #3, where one can eat all one wants for free.  But then I’m a frugal person.

 And here is another interesting thing. There is a large, gravel and dust parking lot between Ciano’s and the USO building. Convoys come in to park here, so that the soldiers can go to the PX, rec center, or pool and gym. So it’s not at all unusual to see several heavily armed vehicles in this lot. On this particular day last week, I decided to climb up on several of the vehicles and have a look. Here is a view of a team of Strykers that had come in from one of the outlying FOB’s (forward operating bases):


The folks let me look around inside and even play on top of their Stryker, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

 Atop a Stryker

This friendly private is the good  fellow who gave me the tour and took most of these photos:

 Stryker Guy

There was a convoy of MRAP’s nearby, and I climbed up into the turret on top of one of these also. Here is a view from the top, looking at Ciano’s restaurant. Note how heavily armed the MRAP’s are, they have about as much armament as a Stryker (Cianos is in the background):

 Atop MRAP

The weird black thing at the front is lowered during operations outside the base. It contains glow-plugs, which emit a lot of heat. The purpose is to defeat mines that would otherwise be set off by the heat of the engine.

 And that is what it’s like at the old DFAC #2 and the parking lot of the new Ciano’s.


7 Responses

  1. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 09/16/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  2. I was reading your blog, found it in the Chicago Sun times and had to check it out. I never served but wanted to when I was younger. I wish I could go back and serve my country. But anyway, I work for International and help work on those MRAPs that I saw in your pics. I’m here to tell you, when we work on those, we work on those with pride and we dont’ want to let you hero’s down. We build those with honor and are proud that nobody has gotten killed due to one of our trucks. Thank you for what you do.

  3. I was at Balad when the DFAC was almost new back in 2004 and would go there when on that side of the base. It did have atmosphere even back then.

  4. remember a little thing called opsec when discussing such equipment and what has been applied. also some photos in the hands of some people can lead to combatting what we are protecting against

  5. Ciano’s is very good! I have been in Iraq over 4 years and have wanted a GOOD pizza for so long (havent been back to the States since 2005). Well! Ciano’s is awesome and their prices are better than Pizza Hut 100 yards away. They have a pretty good sauce and crust and thats where the others fail, to include the DFAC’s. So, will be off to Ciano’s for a Pizza later for my 2010 New Years evening meal!

  6. This blog got to me at an ideal time. My son was deployed to balad last week. Your blog is so informative that I’m recommending it to my family and his wife to read. It’s nice to have some insight to where our loved one is. Thank you, Be safe.

  7. I was in Iraq from apr 2010-apr 2011 and i went to Cianos plenty of times. I have a quick question that I hope somebody can answer. During this time that i was in Iraq, Cianos sold these cartons of pure fruit juice like tomato, pear, apple, and others. I was just wondering where these exact cartons of juice can be bought stateside.

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