Posted 17th November 2009
Birthdays are always a good excuse to try out a different restaurant in Bristol (not that we need one), and as the birthday boy has an obsession with all things Italian, it seemed only right that we sampled the much talked about Cibo Ristorante on Gloucester Road.
Arriving without booking (the birthday boy has an aversion to plans), we got there just in the nick of time to be greeted by an energetic, stereotypically Italian waiter who eagerly walked us past the wall of fine Italian wine, espresso makers, pasta and amaretti biscuits, to our table.
From the exterior, Cibo (which is Italian for food) is at risk of looking a little tacky, with its fluorescent lights and Italian flags, but step inside and prepare to be transported to a fine Italian ristorante.
The red table cloths and soft lighting compliment the displays of high grade Italian goodies that were enough to set off any stomach rumbling, and the atmosphere is the perfect mix of relaxed and fun.
After much deliberation over the extensive wine list and menu, our buoyant waiter returned and we ordered a mixture of pasta dishes, pizza and house salads (there were five of us), while our resident wine connoisseur agonised over which wine to choose – he eventually went for a middle of the range Chianti.
What I loved about this place is that although we went for the traditional pizza and pasta option (November is birthday heavy amongst this group of friends meaning budgets are a little stretched), the menu also offered some top notch traditional Italian meat dishes, including Ostrich fillet, pan-fried with a wild mushroom sauce, and other delicious sounding steak and chicken dishes.
The food arrived promptly and was everything we expected and more. The Spaghetti Alla Bolognese was rich and meaty, the Tagliolini Umbra, mushroomy and delicious, and the Pizza was something special. However, given our rather boring selection of dishes, it was the Cibo salad that blew me away – A plate full of delicious antipasti that made me wish there were less birthdays in November and that we had gone the whole hog.
The Verdict – I love finding places like this – a small, family run business that blows corporate joints like Zizzis, Pizza Express and Strada out of the water. Long live the local, family run restaurant.