Cibo e Vino = Food and Wine (The Restaurant)
Mangia Con Me!
I’m trying to rack my brain to remember if I’ve ever encountered a person who doesn’t like Italian food. And I don’t think I have. As with most mediterranean fare, it can be pretty easy to find something for everyone in a group setting. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of the most popular cuisines found in restaurants in the five boroughs of New York City—behind only American and Chinese, according to the Department of Health. Unless, of course, you combine the Pizza, Italian, and Pizza/Italian categories—then you get the 2nd most popular cuisine in the city with 3,120 restaurants listed as such. And that’s not even including the 284 restaurants that identify as Mediterranean, much like Cibo e Vino, at 2418 Broadway in Manhattan.
Invite me to your dinners…please?
As you know, I love a good media dinner—I get to try a new restaurant, product, or whatever while I schmooze with some of my colleagues that I rarely see in the flesh as we’re all tucked away, behind our computers. And my experience at Cibo e Vino in early May had followed suit. We had some lovely food, wine, cocktails, and company all in a rustic romantic kind of setting.
Now, this was not actually my first time in the restaurant. After seeing Crazy Rich Asians with a couple of fellow Upper West Side writers, Zoe Samuel and her husband, Mark Philip Lichtenstein, we had brunch at this very spot. But if I’m being completely honest, we were having such good conversation that I barely remembered the meal. So I was excited to come back with a more focused purpose, and to get to try a variety of their offerings.
A Spring Feasting
When we first arrived we were treated to some shared plates and passed hors d’oeuvres that, for the most part, can also be found on their regular menu which is good news for you! The one thing I’m unsure about is the chilled asparagus soup that was very refreshing.
Where most restaurants will serve you toast with Italian-style salsa on top for their bruschetta, the one at Cibo e Vino is quite delicious with creamy buratta, perfectly sliced Prosciutto di Parma and gorgeous figs that are simply dressed and peppered. This was a very well balanced dish in terms of both flavor and texture and if I didn’t know there was a lot more to be tasted I probably would have completely filled up on them.
When you walk into this restaurant, situated on the corner of 89th and Broadway, you walk into the bar area, which has a beautiful pizza oven in the back. As this was where we enjoyed our welcome reception, I was obviously anticipating those beloved Italian crispy rounded flatbreads. And these were very good. I think we were served just about every one of their six pies on offer, but the highlights for me were definitely the buratta and the funghi misti.
I love the idea of combining the za’atar spices that you tend to find more in Middle Eastern cuisine with food that we consider traditionally Italian. I guess this combination is geared for someone like me, who absolutely loves a za’atar bagel with cream cheese and tomatoes from Bo’s. Of course, I also love a white mushroom slice that makes me feel like royalty, which is exactly what the Funghi Misti does by incorporating their truffles into the bechamel sauce they use!
We were also served some great little lamb meatballs before we were invited to sit in the dining room with our new best food writer friends.
Supper Time at the Supper Table
Some of the younger kids at the table—you know, in their 20s, hadn’t fully read the invite, so they were quite surprised to learn that we were also going to be having entrees and dessert, so they were already pretty full. I, on the other hand, made judicious choices and was still on my way to stuffed town. But the excitement of these things helps me find enough room to try all the foods—and often finish them.
It was a tough choice, but I didn’t want to go too heavy given all the bites that had led up to this moment. I decided fish was the way to go. The salmon sounded nice, but the branzino really captured my attention especially as we’d already had quite a few starches. And I was very happy with my plate of food. The fish was perfectly cooked with a nice crispy skin. It was a great spring/summer meal and if I had to make any changes I might cut slightly back on the caper berries or olives as it was a little salty. But everything played very well together and I managed to eat it all up.
I also got to try the milanese, sweet potato ravioli, and penne which were all solid dishes—although the milanese could have used a bit more seasoning—so if you would like to order it and you’re dining with someone else suggest they get the branzino, so you can steal some of their olives.
A Professional Always Makes Room for Dessert
Of course despite our complaints of overfilling ourselves, none of us could resist the temptation of the desserts—and so we tried all of them!
I ordered the chocolate-hazelnut mousse, which was very good, but was more hazelnut than chocolate and I am a chocolate fiend. I really enjoyed the citrus puree that accompanied the dessert and cut very well into the fatty nuts and cocoa. The crust layer at the bottom was also a bit of a challenge to cut into—perhaps it needed to warm up a little bit—but I did like the flavor of it and the different textural element.
The cheesecake was definitely the surprise dish for me, as I can be rather skeptical of a pistachio dessert. And when it arrived at the table it still didn’t strike me as something that I would usually order. But once I bit into it I was converted into a believer of this spin on cheesecake that incorporates some colorful marzipan and some berry gelee for tartness.
The last dessert I want to mention was the deconstructed tiramisu, which has some interesting things going on but I probably wouldn’t be happy for it if I was craving that classic Italian dessert. It sure does look pretty though and all the desserts make for a great instagram post. And now that I’ve had it, perhaps it’s something that I could enjoy more knowing what to expect. It did actually help me enjoy Infamous Bistro’s version when I saw it hit our table for my birthday dinner.
All in all, we had a lovely evening at Cibo e Vino and I’d definitely consider it again were I to find myself in the neighborhood. The prices are pretty standard for the area, and the ambiance is very relaxed and inviting. They appear to have a great kid-friendly menu as well, so it’s great for bonding with those friends who also happen to be parents.
I would definitely stop in for their cocktails and it seems they’re offering a sweet deal of free pizza with a bottle of wine from 8-10pm! Given their impressive wine list—which includes some nice kosher offerings, I could definitely get down on that offer.