My husband arrived home from San Francisco yesterday. Within 15 minutes of his arrival, we were strolling hand-in-hand, toward the new Italian restaurant in the hood, Cibo. (Chee-bo, meaning “food” in Italian). Both of us adore good Italian food….as do most folks, I’d guess, and this place is only a few blocks from our Portland house. In the short time it has been open, it has already become a watering hole for the hip crowd, l as was symbolized by this stunning ‘ fast-n-cool’ chrome motorcycle that was parked out front. John and I aren’t all that fast n cool…We just like good food.
Seeing this incredible all-chrome bike parked there gave both of us the distinct impression that we were about to be in for a treat.
Cibo is an 80-seat, 2000 square-foot restaurant with a chic, industrial-lumberjack/hipster ambiance. The place is centered around a 60-foot U-shaped bar—made from the wood from a single Oregon White Oak tree. Those “stripes” that you see on the far wall are repurposed rustic wood planks that have lighting behind them. While more casual looking in the daylight (as per the photo below) the place has quite the romantic ambiance at night with the special lighting. Very pretty, soft lights with good music on the sound system. It is a nice place to hang on a sultry evening.
The bar wraps around an open kitchen that sports an INCREDIBLE wood and gas fueled oven imported from Liguria. Interestingly, our waiter told us that it cost more to transport it across town from the Portland seaport to the restaurant, than it did to bring it to the US from Italy! It is stunning!
The interior spins around and cooks the food to absolute perfection. There isn’t another one exactly like it in the entire country! This is the Ferrari of pizza ovens!
The restaurant has a very interesting drink menu, with designer drinks that pair perfectly with the food items that they offer. For example, this black rum daiquiri with Averna & Herbsaint over crushed ice looked succulent and thirst appeasing…but alas, I will try it another time…:
…and this S&P – Hendricks Gin, grapefruit, Peychauds, lime, triple sec on salted rim served up, looked fabulous!
They serve a Cucumber Collins – with muddled cucumber, lemon, Aviation Gin, and soda water on rocks and a Cibo’s cup with Pimms, limoncello, lemon juice, muddled mint, and Cock & Bull….but I just wanted a simple glass of wine, so chose the Chateau Montpezat Bordeaux and John had a Commons Modrone Amber…both were delicious.
We went to Cibo to try the pizza, something that we do not eat very often, but as the cool breezes that usher in the autumn had found themselves in Portland that evening, we decided it was perfect weather and we were in the perfect mood. We chose two small pizzas, first, the Margherita Fior Di Latte was a perfect blend of homemade sauce, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella cheese. This is a pretty common pizza flavor, but there was nothing common about this particular pizza! It was absolutely the best pizza either of us had ever had! They served it whole, with scissors to cut the crispy, delicate crust. We loved it!
There were only two vegetarian offerings on the menu, so we chose the Vegetariana as the second option, only had it rolled into a Stromboli for variety. It had grilled red peppers, goat cheese, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, fresh basil and mushrooms amidst a delicate blend of spices. Very rich. Quite delicious! The Stromboli was served with a two handled mincing rocker knife on a curved plank of wood. It was wonderful!
For dessert, we split a velvety tiramisu….because, next to Bananas Foster, this is my favorite dessert. The presentation was delightful with its espresso-soaked stand of ladyfingers layered between mascarpone, high quality cocoa and a simple sprig of mint….and the coffee flavor was bold among the creamy ladyfinger delight. Big fan of this dessert!
We rated this new restaurant very high on the scale of places we love in Portland. We were blown away by the exceptional food in the simple, casual atmosphere. We will definitely return.
Fantastic to have Cibo in our neighborhood!