A cozy, yet opulent atmosphere. Large, reclaimed wood beams line 2 walls supporting bottles and magnums of wines to get the imagination running. The floors are all original from 1908 and an exposed brick wall beckons from one side draped in an incredible 10 by 12 foot painting featuring a woman covered with various geometric shapes. Against the fourth wall a large gas fireplace, a gigantic mirror, that looks like it weighs 1,000 pounds, and a huge glass wine cabinet. We were warmly greeted by manager Mark and bubbly server Terri. Terri is a service veteran and it showed immediately in her kind manner and extensive knowledge of Cibo's offerings. She recommended for Jenn their Fallen Angel cocktail, Cutty Sark 'Prohibition' Whiskey, Falernum, Lemon & Denman Bitters. I decided to warm up with a glass of Domaine de Vedilhan Viognier, which was the pairing for the first course. It has a lovely note and is smooth and not too sweet, a credit to France! Mark popped out with some fresh baked, in-house daily, focaccia with a golden brown crust and it was very good and just what we needed to cure our incredible hunger.
Have you ever thought someone was staring at you, but weren't sure? My peripheral vision is, thankfully, incredible. It's one of the main advantages I have that helped propel me to Team Canada for ball hockey in 2000. Our gold medal in the 2000 World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic is a story for another time, but the affable Spanish couple, on their honeymoon, at the table next to us is today's yarn. Jenn kicked me and flashed her phone which was open to a picture of Adam Rodriguez from CSI Miami. Give it a google, they're doppelgängers! The couple was very sweet, but spoke next to no English. They were able to mime that they went to Whistler for skiing. We suggested Cypress Mountain only "trente minuta" from where we sat. I'm 50% sure they understand what I said. We tried to Google translate the menu for them, but they ordered before we could and we spent the rest of the meal miming and asking if their dish was "bueno?" The answer was always an enthusiastic nod!
The Cibo Trattoria offers a very nice menu for their 2017 Dine Out Vancouver. To start I ordered the Bolito Misto, a cold terrine of short rib and Cornish hen in aspic, mostarda and salsa verde. You know when you have a great meal and aren't able to finish it? You take it out of the fridge the next morning and maybe you're too eager to wait for a microwave or fearful what the radiation might do it. So you eat it right out of the container, over the sink, sometimes with your hands? No? Only me? Okay well this dish, served cold, is reminiscent of those delicious, sloppy fistfuls. The Cornish hen was succulent and the braised beef a hearty cut of grade A meat. The salsa verde was the perfect compliment and Jenn and I thoroughly enjoyed this dish! Jenn ordered the Mixed Chicory Lettuce, delicata squash, pumpkin seeds, Parmigiano-Reggiano and a very lovely, house made lemon vinaigrette. Chicory is widely eaten as a sleep aid.... zzzzzzzz... kidding, I'm awake! The tart yet sweet lemon vinaigrette envelopes everything and tricks you into thinking the slices of squash are sweet little chunks of lemon. Jenn said she "felt healthier after eating it." I only had a few bites so we'll take her word for it.
For entrées we ordered the Red Wine Braised Beef ‘Delmonico’ and Pan-seared Branzino. The beef spent a luxurious 4 hours braising in its red wine jacuzzi! It was served with polenta, roasted romanesco and parmesan and no knife is necessary. It jumps off the bone. It even seemed to crumble a bit when I glanced at it and it certainly came apart when the fork grazed it. The meat was flavourful and mixing the au jus with the palenta and a bite of the romanesco is amazing! Romanesco are Brussels sprouts cousin, but tastier. Roasted to perfection! I got to try one and then JC stole the rest. I managed to keep my fingers though, that's a win! Cibo paired their entrées with the Luccarelli Negroamaro and it was very nice; fruit forward, earthy and paired very nicely. The Pan-seared Branzino came with purple cauliflower, fagioli purée, roasted garlic chips and pickled fennel. The fish was crispy, well browned and deliciously flavourful. Jenn "doesn't eat the skin but it goes perfectly well with the meat". The fish probably thought they worked well together as well...
By this time we were feeling satisfied and this would have been one of those times when you politely decline a dessert menu and request your cheque, but this is Dine Out! Out came my Flourless Chocolate Cake and Jenn's Affogato, vanilla gelato and espresso, each served with a delicious 10 year old Tawny Port. The cake came with pickled berries and house-made mascarpone and was amazing! The Affogato was like a strong cup of coffee with a vanilla ice cream accompaniment and not vice versa. It was a very refreshing and invigorating dessert and it disappeared quickly! If you've never been to The Cibo Trattoria, Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar, Redcard Sports Bar and Eatery trio of restaurants attached to the beautiful Moda Hotel in the downtown core you need to go! Yesterday!