Most people are very surprised when I mention that I’ve never eaten at Cibo before. Cibo has been around for what seems like ages, but I’ve never had the opportunity to visit them for a meal. When I heard that they were participating in Restaurants For Change, an initiative where local restaurants donate a portion of their proceeds for one evening to a local charity, there was no better opportunity to drop by for dinner. So after sending a few texts to some friends, a plan for dinner was made.
The space inside Cibo is, for lack of a better term, humongous. A spacious bar area is visible immediately as you walk in, with the open kitchen hiding in the back of the space. There is a fair amount of dining space around both the kitchen and bar – that in it-self would be enough space for a typical Calgary restaurant. But wait, there’s a whole other floor exclusively for seated diners, which makes Cibo a great option for hosting parties of any size. The walls are adorned with all sorts of fun and quirky decorations that I tried to capture with my little iPhone. The atmosphere was very relaxing and enjoyable as the other patrons varied from a group of university students to an old married couple.
Now, I don’t generally discuss service unless levels reach one of two extremes. In this instance, the service at Cibo from beginning to end was fantastic. Our waitress was very friendly, overly attentive, and very knowledgeable about the menu and specials, even while being shadowed by a trainee. She also had some fantastic recommendations from the menu and was always quick on refilling our water and wine. So if anyone from Cibo is reading this, Jamie A. was spot on and made my first experience at Cibo great!
For those that don’t know, Cibo has a Happy Hour on their pizzas where all of their pies are 1/2 price between 3:00 PM & 6:00 PM daily. Having arrived at 5:45 PM, we ordered two pizzas before I even got a chance to look at the menu. Ultimately, I left the decision of which pizzas to my friend, and we ended up ordering the mushroom & smoked scamorza (smoked cheese) pizzas.
The smoked scamorza had a phenomenal crust, the texture of which was not too crispy and not too soft, while the seasoning was just right. When I picked up a piece of this pizza, the crust stood up to the toppings, which were simply fontina, smoked mozzarella and asiago cheese. The smokiness was not overpowering, and worked very well with the saltiness of the asiago. This was a delicious bite, which was elevated even more with some chili oil.
The second pizza, the mushroom, was equally as fantastic. The crust was just as good; mind you it didn’t hold up quite as well with the heavier toppings but still didn’t require a fork and knife. This pizza was super flavourful and had a mix of shitake, crimini & oyster mushrooms. The mushroom mix provided earthiness, while the salty creaminess of the tallegio cheese, the richness of the truffle oil and pungent herb notes from the fried rosemary all combined to make this pizza a winner!
My friends were insistent that we order from Cibo’s Scodellina offerings, which translated from Italian means small bowls. Cibo makes a variety of dips that are served in small bowls with crostini. We decided to order the roasted eggplant, mushroom salad & bruschetta. The roasted eggplant was delightfully creamy and very garlicky (which I thoroughly enjoyed), but lacked a bit of acid to round out the flavours. The marinated mushrooms were highly acidic, while the addition of capers added brininess, creating a dish that I couldn’t resist. While the bruschetta has the traditional basil/tomato combination, the addition of artichoke gave it a very different mouth feel. The crostini’s were fantastic, super thin, crispy and garlicky. What more could you really ask for?
I couldn’t leave Cibo without trying one of their pastas and after hearing from our waitress that the gnocchi is made fresh in-house daily, I couldn’t resist. The dish arrived and it definitely was not what I expected. The gnocchi was pillowy soft and light, with a light sear on both sides to give it a slight crisp. The dish was sauce-less, which I was oddly okay with. The gnocchi was mixed with artichoke, which offered a mild tang, raw spinach basil and was topped with freshly grated ricotta salata. The raw spinach threw me off at fist and gave a clunky feel to the dish, but it worked in adding some freshness to the dish, and cut the saltiness of the cheese. A very unorthodox take on gnocchi but I found it wildly successful. I could eat bowls and bowls of that gnocchi on it’s own!
My experience at Cibo was very enjoyable from the service, the food, the atmosphere and the company. If I was ranking Cibo on it’s food alone, I would have ranked it a 4.0 on Zomato, however the fantastic service really made a difference for me, therefore I went with a 4.5 rating. It was a deliciously great night and I will definitely return to Cibo on any given night of the week.