“If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
Cibo – Bang for your Buck
June 30, 2012Posted by on
Cibo offers something not easily found in Calgary’s restaurant scene – affordable, quality food in an inviting environment. “Affordable” restaurants (the term itself highly subjective) usually dictates two options – the hole in the wall/dive or the much dreaded chain restaurant. You can get cheap eats in the city- such as pho, donairs or pub grub – but the chances are that the ambience is lacking for a night of elated eating. Although cookie cutter restaurants offer reasonably priced dishes, there’s nothing remotely euphoric about eating at a Moxie’s, Milestones or Earl’s. Besides, why would you when you can get more bang for your buck dining at Cibo?
The restaurant itself is spacious, modern and bright. On my last visit, the sunlight streamed through the windows and bounced off the wine glasses on the tables. I like the utilitarian looking chandelier, and industrial touches, like the silver pipes on the ceiling. Service was great – the servers were attentive all the way through the dinner service. We didn’t want for much – the appies was delivered within ten minutes of ordering, our mains within 20 minutes, and our wine and water glasses were continually topped throughout the night. I also appreciate we weren’t immediately rushed out after paying our tab (e.g. Joey), which I understand is necessary for restaurants to turn tables in order to make a profit.
Speaking of wine… a big thank you to Cibo for offering reasonably priced bottles – such as the house cabernet (Alias). It was light and sweet – good enough for quaffing while munching on a variety of appetizers, like the artichoke bruschetta, two-bite lamb meatballs and mixed olives. The presentation of our appetizers was perfect – the 3 small dishes were presented on a rectangular wooden plank. Separate was a pot of crispy crackers. Of the three appetizers, I enjoyed the mixed olives – one type was almost flowery in taste – perhaps from orange flavouring in the marinade. The other olives were firm and tart but not bitter. Yep, these weren’t my typical Costco olives.
For our mains, we shared chitarra (homemade pasta cut by equipment that looks like a string instrument), an order of gnocchi with spinach, and a meat pizza. The chitarra was tasty – tossed in a light olive oil with lots of large fresh shrimp, salty capers, and diced black olives. The pasta was al dente – toothsome and not overdressed. The meat pizza was a favourite – the pie crust had a very satisfying crunch. I loved the smooth cheesy layer of mozzarella and generous amount of salami, sausage, pancetta and wild boar bacon. The gnocchi was also done well–the gnocchi was soft yet crisp – as the bottom of each was pan-fried. Topped with sweet cherry tomatoes, spinach and a generous sprinkling of cheese, this dish was a winner.
No dessert for us – wine was our chosen sweet of the night. My very generous girlfriends picked up the tab – so I’m not sure how much the damage was after our drinks, appies and mains. But I know that the next time I visit, I’ll be able to afford a night out, but I’ll just have to order wine by the glass and not by the bottle. Hopefully Cibo will stay consistently delightful so that we can have a regular hangout to munch and sip the summer nights away.
* Update – I’ve been back several times since my initial review. The pastas were consistent, but the pizza was disappointing. The crust was soft and not crispy, so that it’s floppy and near limp. The toppings were scarce – there was barely enough to cover the thin crust. I would go again, but focus more on some of the appies, salads, and pastas. Service was adequate – but nothing special.