Cibo is an unassuming restaurant, there’s always someone eating there but it’s rarely full. Despite its looks, the place has been going strong and I imagine as an Italian lover I should be trying it out.
Thing is, I’m just kind of spazzed out with Italian food in the country of late. To be honest, there’s hardly any good place to get Italian these days. Sure, you have the usual pizza places and a lot of them are pretty good, like Brooklyn’s and especially Pazzo Rollio, but Italian hasn’t experienced the kind of renaissance as Japanese food has in the past several years. You certainly don’t see classy Italian restaurants sprouting out of the woordwork like all the high-end ramen joints coming out these days.
So let’s try Cibo, one of only three “real” Italian restaurants I can count off the top of my head here in the Southern Metro.
The menu is bright and colorful, as well-appointed as the furnishings. I love the tinge of orange on everything in this restaurant! Here, they have two recommendations: the “Best Seller” which has an orange dot next to it, and the “Must Try” which is like the chef’s recommendation. These appear with a green dot beside the dish.
So here we order a pizza from the “Must Try” list, the Porchetta. It’s a pizza with mozzarella, roast pig, spinach, onions and cracklings.
Oooh, it looks so good! The pizza is elliptical in shape, which is pretty novel and leaves you with two ends which are like an unfolded calzone.
After one bite, I have to say, the flavor is quite exquisite! It’s not a strong, bold flavor. Rather, it’s delicate, but with many layers. I have to hand it to the chef, he knows how to blend his herbs and spices. There are hints of olive oil in the layers of taste, along with the ingredients mentioned in the menu. It’s pretty good.
What is this “Crackling” thing? I’m not entirely sure, it might be some kind of shoe string potato fried to a crisp. The onions are delightfully sweet. The roast pig had me wondering at first, but it’s really like small cubes of crispy lechon or sisig added on top. Maybe this is the crackling? No that’s probably the roast pork. Maybe the crackling is the breading they put on the roast pork? It’s a great mystery.
But it’s an interesting flavor for sure. The mozarella is there, but I find it’s too sparse to provide any useful texture. I would have liked to see more. Speaking of texture…
My real issue with this pizza, though, is the texture. In particular, the consistency of the crust. It’s quite horrid. The crust is not cruncy, it’s not chewy, it’s like old dried french bread that’s hard to chew. Eating the pizza was more of a chore than I thought. Forget eating it with a knife and fork, you’ll never cut the crust properly. Just eat it with your hands, and biting it directly is also a chore because of the consistency.
The pasta on the other hand is great! It’s called Linguine Alla Ghiotta. It’s a tender white cream sauce which again does not stand out with bold flavors, but instead has a soft, delicate symphony of tastes. I love how the portabello mushrooms mix into the cream — it’s similar to the taste of the white pasta at the Shangri La. The bacon slabs are great as well! It’s a thick cube-like cut of bacon bits, with very rich porky-smoky flavor. I give this pasta a great thumbs up for the flavor!
However, I was not very happy with the texture of the noodles. They were done Al Dente, and as we all know Al Dente is borderline raw to keep that firm consistency. However, this Al Dente went a little too far over the uncooked line. It’s almost raw, and too tough to really enjoy. It ruins the delicious savory symphony of the sauce by detracting from the actual dining.
All in all, I have to say I was quite disappointed with my visit. The taste was good, the flavors were excellent, they made some Italian flavors that you don’t just get anywhere. It’s a big improvement over Italianni’s in my opinion.
However, what could have been an outstanding Italian dinner was marred by the strange consistency of the food. I’m a huge stickler for texture and sadly I couldn’t get behind the choices they made in creating the texture of the crust and noodles. Other than that, however, the food tasted great.
The other big issue is price. We ordered just two dishes and our bill came up to 931 bucks. I find that to be an exorbitant price for what we got, and the servings weren’t particularly large. In fact, I felt that there wasn’t enough of the pasta. I couldn’t finish the pizza, which was delightfully large, but the toughness of the crust made it too hard to just wolf it down.
All in all, I would pass on this restaurant in the future. My quest for great Italian still continues. My best recommendation is still to go with the “fast food pizza chains” like Brooklyn’s or even Yellow Cab. They are the only real option in the South for some good Italian food outside of Mama Lou’s Kitchen and its sister restaurant in Nuvali (which I have yet to try). A little up north you can get Pazzo Rollo (There’s one in SM City Pasig), which is still currently the best Italian food I have had to date.
So until next time, keep your pizza rolling and have some good eats my friends!