Where else can you find comforting, modern yet still authentic Italian cuisine that serves pasta cooked al dente unfailingly, every single time?
Cibo, which literally means food in Italian, is the brainchild of Margarita Fores. After studying authentic Italian cooking in various parts of Italy, she spent several years doing catering gigs until she was ready to open her own restaurant. Cibo prides itself in churning out invariably good food, from pizza and pasta dishes, to panini and rice viands.
It was my first time to try the Crema di Zucca Pancetta (P185). The summer squash soup was lackluster in color but rich in flavor. A cube of bread already softened by the warm soup floats at a standstill, unable to move due to the thick consistency of this chowder-like concoction. A spoonful satiates, the pottage replete with grounded squash and a hint of bacon (?); almost reminiscent of baby food.
We move on to our staple antipasti, the Spinaci Zola (P235). It is perhaps one of the most popular viands on the menu, and with good reason. Served with little, thin slices of toasted bread, the spinach dip was painted in stark green, a testament to the quantity of spinach used; as opposed to others found in stores or food stalls where cream is the chief element. The thunderous crunch slightly muted by the flavorful spinach aims to stir your appetite; although at times, you have to restrain yourself from happily consuming more than enough lest you leave no room for the entrees.
Among the panini selection, the Gamberetti (P265) is best-loved. Perfectly grilled, with striations in varying shades of brown, the white bread is crisp to the bite until you fully sink your teeth into it and nestle into its soft, chewy texture. And not a moment to soon, the shrimps pour out one by one, all dressed in mayonnaise, while sporadic hairs of alfalfa sprouts unsuccessfully try to squeeze between your teeth. The taste acidic, the sensation sweet; it is comfort food at its finest.
The Rigatoni Di Bruto (P279) screams a robust flavor of the sausage that ends on a faint, spicy note. Slivers of red bell peppers are strewn across the pasta and bits of grated cheese perch at the crown. The dairy is small in quantity and thus fails to stifle the potent flavor of the sauce. A bit too strong for me and so I continue on with the others.
The carbonara is a basic pasta dish, and cream, bacon and mushrooms are its requisites. Cibo's take on this is the Linguine Alla Ghiotta (P298). Creamy white sauce, almost restrained, prepares and not overwhelms, your gustatory organ for the miscellany of ingredients that soon follow.
And of course, I save the best for last. An all-time favorite, the Rigatoni All'Alfonso (P325) is a testament to Fores' ingenious mind. Several peeled shrimps embellish the plate; stewed tomatoes in perfect fusion with the cream; chopped chives adorn the dish; and chili peppers most probably hidden underneath - all these conspire to intensify the pasta's flavor. It is comfort. It is solace. It is bliss. Words alone could never give justice to this dish. It is deeply recommended that you try it for yourself.
Sadly, all good things do come to an end and what better way than with this refreshing Limone Te Freddo (P78). Perfectly blended lemon tea with a shadow of mint, the frothy top gives way to the sweet liquid that douses the thirst.
Cibo is indubitably one of (if not) the best modern Italian cuisine restaurants in Manila. For fourteen years, they have served adults and kids alike with their unflagging pursuit to provide great quality food to their patronizers.
Spot: 2nd Floor Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City
Contact No.: 631.7753