Cibo e Vino
Some restaurants just feel good the moment you step inside, and Chef John Collura's Cibo e Vino (Italian for "food and wine") is such a spot. Recently we were invited to dine, and as I walked past the roomy patio, outdoor bar (where I could picture myself enjoying an al fresco Negroni), and the cozy wood-lined dining room with glowing lights, it felt warm and welcoming.
Starting with a well-made Negroni, we chose some items from the menu, and Chef Collura surprised us with others.
I'm partial to seafood and Chef Collura's menu had an excellent array of options, including sweet steamed clams with toasted bread to dip in the lemony white wine, shallot, and garlic broth, crispy calamari that was tender, well seasoned, and expertly fried, and Black Mountain Shrimp in a pool of buttery Creole sauce with plenty of garlic bread for dunking.
The pepperoni rolls are a guest favorite and it's easy to see why. We couldn't stop eating these addictive pizza dough rosettes stuffed with oozy cheese and spicy pepperoni. This is a serendipitous dish and Chef tells us how he came up with it when he planned to make pizza at a friend's house: "I took the dough, I took the cheese, and I forgot the marinara, and I said what am I going to do? So I roll the dough out, I put the garlic on it, the pepperoni and the cheese, rolled them up and baked them. I grabbed some ranch dressing to dip, and said, there you go, pepperoni rolls. And they were fabulous. " Yes they are. I'm looking forward to exploring the other options - spinach and sausage rolls - on our next visit.
I'm glad that Chef suggested we try one of his favorite dishes and you will be too. If you're a fan of braised short ribs, this is the one for you. The beef ribs are braised for four hours to fall-apart tender perfection, nestled in a bed of creamy four-cheese risotto, and napped with a rich port demi-glace. Homey and satisfying.
We've found since our move from Boston that it isn't as easy to find veal on Italian menus here in Arizona. That's no problem at Cibo e Vino, however. Here you'll find traditional Italian dishes such as veal parmigiana, veal piccata, and veal marsala. Chef kindly agreed to make my husband's request of breaded veal cutlets (instead of sauteed) while I ordered the classic veal francese - scallopine coated in a light egg batter. Both were embellished with a zesty white wine and lemon sauce with capers and prosciutto and served with fresh vegetables and pasta marinara or risotto.
Too full for dessert, but that's no problem. We'll be back soon. In our North Valley neighborhood, there are many chains but a restaurant such as Cibo e Vino, with its friendly, talented chef, comfortable atmosphere, reasonable prices, and a menu including homemade pasta (the duck ravioli will be on my order next time), is a rare find. Bonus? Great service (thank you Susan!) and Happy Hour specials too, including all day Sunday. We're looking forward to becoming regulars.
Learn more about Chef/Owner John Collura on an upcoming feature and interview in December.
I was hosted by Cibo e Vino and our meal was complimentary.