On a beautiful Saturday evening, we took Mark’s parents to one of our favourite new eateries on 17th Avenue, Cibo Calgary.  It’s pronounced CHEE-BOH.  Like cheetohs.  It means “food” or “fare” in Italian.  Quite simple, yet classy.  I like it.

The first time we’d tried Cibo, it was on a whim one evening after running some errands.  We’d heard some good buzz about it, so we had our first Cibo dining experience at the “pizza bar” as all of the other tables were either occupied or soon-to-be occupied by people who are smart enough to plan ahead and make reservations.  It was actually really fun to sit at the bar, watching the prep cooks at the pizza station rolling out and shaping dough, topping it with various delicious looking ingredients, then seeing the final product come out of the oven.

This time around, I vowed to be one of the smart people and made a reservation.  We were seated in the upstairs dining area, which is a huge warehouse-like space with gorgeous exposed brick walls, which I absolutely love.  It would be awesome to live in a loft that looked just like this.

But first I’d have to make ridiculous amounts of money and I’m just not where I need to be to make it rain.  But maybe someday.

The dining concept at Cibo is quite simple – everything is meant to be shared family-style.  The items come out in successive order from appetizers (scodellina), to salads (insalata), to pastas, then onto the entrees (piatti) and pizzas, then finally desserts.  There’s a large selection of appetizers to choose from and it’s 1 for $4, 3 for $11 or 5 for $18, which is a pretty good deal.

We went with 5 selections – 2 of the arancini (veal, sweet peas, mozzarella), 2 of the shrimp (shaved fennel, summer melon, mint, pickled chilies), and lastly the roasted eggplant (sun dried tomato, goat cheese).  We had the arancini before so we already knew they’re delicious.  The veal is incredibly tender and well-seasoned, and comes sitting atop a rich tomato sauce.  It’s almost like eating a light, fried meatball.  Yum!  I found the shrimp to be very simple (in a good way) and the accompanying salad was fresh and crunchy.  I have an aversion to eggplant, so I didn’t try any of it (came with a small bucket of crostini to dip), but everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

We skipped salad and went straight to the pasta course, the Orechiette (broccolini, sausage, garlic, extra virgin olive oil).  The ear-shaped pasta was perfectly cooked and dressed lightly in olive oil.  The broccolini added a nice crunchy texture, which worked well with the rich saltiness of the sausage.  The garlic was prominent but not overpowering.  Overall, a very well-balanced pasta dish.

For the main, we opted for the meal size Pork Loin (roasted lentils, caramelized onion, apple & scallion salsa verde).  All the mains also have an option of “group size”, but we found the meal size to be plenty for the 4 of us.  Mark absolutely loved this dish the first time we were at Cibo and it didn’t disappoint this time around.  The pork loin was moist, tender, and seasoned to perfection.  The apple and scallion salsa verde is my favourite part.  Pork and apple are a great pair, but the way they made this salsa verde worked so well with the pork as it was light and slightly acidic.  It also came with lentils which were cooked perfectly (nice firm texture) and a simply dressed arugula salad.

Lastly, the pizza.  We went with the Sausage (broccolini, caramelized onion, tomato, provolone).  Cibo’s pizza has a fabulous crust.  The texture and chewiness reminds me of ciabatta bread.  It holds up well with all the ingredients (as in, it doesn’t get soggy), which is a huge plus for me.  It ranks among the top 3 pizzas in Calgary in my books.

Overall, a lovely family dinner that left our bellies full and happy, and we received excellent service all evening.  I think I want to hit their Pizza Happy Hour (3-5pm) soon for a $5 pie – can’t go wrong there!

Cibo Calgary
1012 17 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2T0A5
Phone: (403) 984-4755
http://cibocalgary.com/

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