By Elizabeth Corzo
It’s a great time to be a foodie in Miami, as there are countless restaurants offering discounted prix-fixe menus as part of the 7th Annual Coral Gables Restaurant Week, (which luckily actually runs for three weeks). Beginning June 9th and ending June 29th, participating restaurants offer a three-course menu at an incredible price, which can be paired with a Bacardi Cuba Libre, the official cocktail of this phenomenal event, and Martini Prosecco as the featured wine. I chose to dine with a guest at Cibo Wine Bar, which is located on the well-known Miracle Mile.
Upon entering, I immediately knew it was going to be a dining experience I would not soon forget; a relaxing outdoor seating area, stone walls, large indoor bar, visible wine cellar with wine angel, and neutral color palette made for an inviting atmosphere I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in. Upon entering, I was greeted by two pleasant ladies at the hostess stand, one of which asked if we prefer to dine indoors or outdoors, and then directed me and my guest to our seating area. Although I went on a weekday, Thursday at 7:00, Cibo was already seeing heavy traffic. All patrons of the restaurant seemed to be in good spirits, although appetizing rustic Italian food and a rather extensive wine menu will do that to just about anyone, myself included. As it was beginning to get busy indoors, and the outdoor dining area was empty, I opted to dine in the quiet and relaxing atmosphere outside. Not only did it feel pleasantly secluded, the décor made an impression on me; as the sun set, candles were lit on every table, which glowed behind the large olive oil bottles set on every table. There was a romantic feel as the candle were lit, and I couldn’t help to think what a pleasant dining experience this would be for an anniversary or other special occasion (ladies and gentlemen jot that down!).
Once seated, our friendly server, Morgan, gave us a minute to look over the menu. Morgan and a wine angel Paulina, which also happens to be a dear friend of mine, both gave their suggestions and opinions about the choices of our dishes, which further solidified our selections for the night; having a staff that knows their menu is very important to me when dining, and I truly enjoy hearing their opinions on any dish I’m about to order. As our order was put in, our meal began with the complimentary house-made bread and a small tin of olives, which I dipped into the olive oil that was already present at our table. It was soft and well-seasoned, and I would have eaten more if I wasn’t thinking ahead how much room I was going to need for the amount of food I was about to consume.
As our first course came, I was pleasantly surprised at the generous portion; I felt as though I was already on the main course. My dish, the Grilled Whole Octopus, was one of my favorites of the night. On top of a large serving of mixed greens with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice, and surrounded by a colorful assortment of diced tomatoes and lemon, the grilled octopus was perfection. It was easy to cut into, which isn’t always the case as octopus easily has a chewy, rubbery texture if improperly cooked. I truly enjoyed how it just fell apart in my mouth, and the seasoning was not at all overpowering; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had octopus with a much-too-potent citrus taste, which comes from using citrus to try and break down the tough texture of octopus. I insisted that my guest try it, even though she said she wasn’t a fan of octopus, and she was also taken aback by the mouth-watering flavor and consistency. My guest, on the other hand, ordered Arancini, which were two stuffed rice balls with melted mozzarella and ragu for dipping. Again, I felt the serving size was more than reasonable, with two large stuffed rice balls, as well as a small salad serving on the side. I tried a small bite of the stuffed rice balls, and I almost wanted to order my own. I agree with my guest as she told me that “they were scrumptious with a little taste of Sicily,” and the warm creamy texture of the filling simply melted in my mouth.
Along with our first course of the evening, we both ordered a cocktail, with the help of Paulina. I ordered the Passione Martini, while my guest ordered a Basil Martini. The Passione Martini had the tart passion fruit flavor I love, then a nice little kick of spice. If you’re a fan of tart flavors like myself, or are intrigued by the sound of a spicy cocktail, you have to give this one a try! As for the Basil Martini, it was incredibly refreshing and perfect for the outdoor dining environment we were in. We also had the pleasure of meeting the beverage manager, Amy Weidig, who was very gracious and stopped by our table to ensure we were enjoying our cocktails, (we most definitely did).
Onto the main course, I ordered Pappardelle, and my guest ordered the Pollo Mattone. My warm house-made pasta dish was very rich with the slow cooked lamb ragu and shavings of pecorino cheese, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it without sacrificing dessert – I never sacrifice dessert. Like with the house-made bread, I wanted to gulp down the entire plate, however, I knew that dessert would not disappoint. The Pollo Mattone dish was a lighter dish, having sautéed spinach rather than pasta, however, the roasted potatoes and roasted chicken also proved to be too much for my guest. We had a plan to try all three courses, and we were not about to let the generous portions deter us from enjoying all of our dessert (ladies, you understand!). Not that I’m at all complaining about portion sizes, but make sure to bring your appetite if you also are attempting the $30 three-course special going on now. Plus, many of you might agree that leftovers make a great midnight snack.
Now onto the final course, I chose to try the Chocolate Baci Bombe, while my guest chose the classic Tiramisu. The Chocolate Baci Bombe is a Nutella-lover’s dream come true; the rich hazelnut and chocolate dessert was velvety and dissolved in my mouth, as did the chocolate cigar on top. Chocolate shavings, powdered sugar, and fresh berries also occupied the plate, marrying well with the caramel sauce found under the fresh fruit. As for the Tiramisu, it was so incredibly creamy and heaven-like, and I’ve never been a huge fan of this dessert. Like the bombe, it was topped with fresh fruits and powdered sugar. Although I only tried a spoonful, as I had my indulgent chocolate bombe, I will not hesitate to order it next time I choose to dine at Cibo Wine Bar. We both also ordered a dessert wine, Moscato d’Asti Martini & Rossi, as I prefer sweet and floral wines over bitter or earthy wines. It turned out to have a crisp and slightly sweet finish, but not too sweet like many find dessert wines to be (I’ve yet to find a moscato too sweet for my palate though).
To top off an already-wonderful night, we also had a special surprise, and had the pleasure of entering the wine cellar with Amy and Paulina and tasting a glass of Zonin Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine. I’m a fan of dessert wines, hard ciders, and sparkling wines, so it was no surprise I enjoyed every last drop. Although I would describe it as being slightly dry, I still found it refreshing and the perfect wine for sipping while having a few laughs with friends. Inside the glass sound-proof wine cellar, I was amazed at the 700+ labels, including private reserves, and my guest and I were intrigued to see how the wine angel Paulina picks out bottles while suspended (I jokingly referred to this as a human vending machine). The atmosphere at Cibo Wine Bar was already an enjoyable one, but being able to watch as a wine angel hand picks your desired bottle adds just the right touch of flair and showmanship.
I cannot thank the staff enough for their exceptional service and hospitality, and I don’t think I could do the superb meal my guest and I savored justice. Friends and family have already had to endure my delighted rants, now it’s time for you to make your reservation at Cibo Wine Bar and have a wonderful dining experience. I know I can at least speak for myself when I say this dining experience was molto bene!
Cibo Wine Bar
Address: 45 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Telephone: (305) 442-4925