#217: Cibo7 Ristorante & Wine Bar

Last night I went to dinner at Cibo7 Ristorante & Wine Bar, located next to Blue Nami in the Stone Point shopping center on Eureka.  I didn’t know much about this place and assumed it would be like House of Oliver.  That was an incorrect assumption.  They have a lot of wine for sure but that’s about where the comparison ends.

I was meeting my mom and grandma at 5:30 but arrived a little early this evening.  I stepped inside to see if they were busy and check it out in general.  It was pretty quiet.  The bar itself was mostly full but the rest of the bar area and all the dining room tables were vacant.  I was greeted by the hostess who gave me a quick rundown of what they are all about when I said I was just taking a look while I waited for the rest of my party.  They serve Italian, Spanish & French cuisine, focus on local produce, make their pasta fresh in-house every day and get their seafood delivered fresh daily.  Their website is pretty sparse and does not have a menu, I take it that’s because it probably changes very frequently.

They are open Tuesday-Saturday 4-10pm with wine tastings Saturdays from 2-4 and happy hour (or Social Hour as they call it on their website) from 4-7 Tuesday-Friday.  I stepped back outside to wait and watch the steady stream of cars and people filtering into the shopping center for the evening.  They have a very nicely done patio area with some heaters.  It was empty at the moment aside from a new server who was taking time to study the menu for the night.

Soon we were all here and headed back in where we were asked if we had a reservation (we did not) but were seated immediately anyway.  We were the first ones in the dining room.  From this point on there was a very consistent flow through the front doors of people heading into the bar for happy hour.  Before long it was jam-packed and basically at standing room only.  I’d be interested to go back and see what kind of happy hour specials they do, because it’s obviously a very popular spot.  A side effect of this big crowd was that the noise level became quite high.

We started looking over the wine list while we were served waters and bread and our server removed the 4th place setting.  The wine list is large, as in a full-sized menu binder with many pages.  When my mom ordered their bottle of Pinot Grigio I asked our server, Mariah, if they had any beer.  She named off about 4 or 5 on draught and then mentioned that they have a list of bottles as well, which I opted to take a look at before making a decision.  She brought this over quickly.  The bottle selection was much better, with about 20 or so to choose from.  No stouts unfortunately but there were a couple of porters.  I chose the one I’ve never had (or seen before for that matter) which was Samuel Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter from England [$8].  I found it interesting that they had five options for bottled water on this list as well.  If beer or wine doesn’t fancy you, they also have a fully stocked bar.

She soon returned with my beer and also to break the bad news that they did not have the wine my mom had ordered.  They only had that single Pinot Grigio so she recommended the 2013 Brooks Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc [$30].  She then proceeded to present my 12oz bottle of Samuel Smith’s as if it were a wine, so I figured I better nod my approval/acceptance, and she opened and poured it.  It was mostly pretty smooth and drinkable with just a bit of bitterness to it.  Not too bad.

Now focused on the menu, I discovered that this was definitely one of the pricier places in town.  I might even say top 5.  Entrees varied from the $30s to mid-$40s with appetizers starting in the teens.  We decided on an appetizer to start, the Waygu Beef and Dixon Lamb Meatballs (Fennel-Yogurt Cream, Redwood Hills Feta and Parsley Oil)[$15].  Our server asked how we would like these cooked, and after we all looked at each other, shrugging, my mom said medium.  None of us had even considered this question in advance for meatballs.  We ordered our entrees along with it.

It took a long time for the appetizer to come out, nearly 30 minutes.  During this time we munched on the bread.  This was a smallish plate with thin slices of some kind of delicious bread with a crunchy crust and soft middle.  Served with it was a garlic aioli type spread.  The garlic was strong, I smelled it as soon as it had been set down in the middle of the table, and it was delicious.  As soon as we had finished the last piece of bread (not joking, it was probably still being chewed) the plate was taken and replaced with a new one with more bread and new garlic spread.  That was nice.  During our wait our server came by and refilled the wine glasses and waters before anyone even realized they were getting low.  She was pretty on top of things throughout the night.

Finally, the appetizer was delivered.  5 good sized meatballs sat in a circle in the center of a large round dish, topped with crumbles of Feta and surrounded by the fennel-yogurt cream and parsley oil.  These were amazing.  They were incredibly complex in flavor with both meats and the rich sauce, oil and cheese all hitting you at once.  I highly recommend these if they’re still on the menu if/when you go.

After we had finished it was another wait for the entrees, a bit over 30 minutes this time.  Around now the dining room had nearly filled up and the bar was still packed.  The crowd looked to be mostly in their 40s and up and all pretty well dressed.  I guessed mostly due to the prices and that many were getting off work from the nearby law and financial offices.  Not long after we polished off the last meatball the plate was removed along with our appetizer plates.  Like a ninja, our server quickly and silently replaced used silverware and also set a steak knife in front of me (which I was not expecting based on my entree selection).

At last, our main dishes arrived.  First my mom’s Stromboli (Pomodoro Sauce, House Fennel Sausage, Hand Pulled Mozzarella, Prosciutto Di Parma, Crimini Mushroom and Grana Padano)[$21].  The sauce came in a separate small dish on the side (and there looked to be a lot of it).  Next up was my grandma’s Roasted Baby Beet Salad (Wild Arugala, Pomegranate Seeds, Redwood Hills Chèvre, Baby Herbs, Truffle Vinaigrette, Balsamic Reduction)[$14].  This was a very nice looking salad with all the beets and pomegranate piled up in the center in a bright red cone, topped with bits of goat cheese.  The truffle vinaigrette was sending it’s deliciously rich aroma to me from the moment the plate was set down and throughout the meal.  Both said they enjoyed their dinners for the most part, though the beet salad was labeled “OK”, mostly because it was just a beet salad, which I guess is hard to argue with.

My entree arrived last, but not far behind the others.  It was riding on the largest plate they could conceivably find.  It was borderline silly.  I had ordered the Pan Rendered Muscovy Duck Breast (Grass Valley White Polenta, Chorizo Braised, Tin Roof Farms Collard Greens and a Blood Orange-Chipotle Glace)[$31].

When I ordered this I was a bit taken aback because the server asked how I wanted it cooked.  I’d never encountered that question in regards to poultry and didn’t know what to go with so I told her however the chef prefers.  What I received was basically duck meets steak.  This is why I was given a steak knife.  It was much more like a steak in consistency than any duck I’ve ever had before.  The top was pan-fried crisp and the bottom was closer to what I had in mind – slick, greasy, dark duck meat.  In-between it was almost exactly like a beef steak in terms of texture.  The flavor was undoubtably duck however.  It took me a couple bites to get into this, mostly because I was so taken off guard I guess, but I really enjoyed it from then on out.  The blood orange-chipotle glace was sweet and had a deep, rich orange flavor that wasn’t tart in the slightest.  It was fantastic.  I enjoyed the greens as well as the polenta, which was effectively prepared and presented like mashed potatoes.  The chorizo didn’t seem to have much flavor to it.

After dinner we were presented with an adorable mini-version of the menu that had their desserts, including Deconstructed Tiramisu and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding, along with a selection of dessert wines including ports and sherries.  We were all pretty full however so we called it a night.

Overall I was mostly impressed by Cibo7.  Of course, I went in expecting something much more casual and low-key like Oliver.  The prices are certainly up there.  My mom agreed with some reviews that she had read saying that it is overpriced.  I feel like the service and food was up to par, but the speed of the kitchen definitely needed some improvement.  This isn’t the place where I expect to be in and out in less than an hour, but 30 minutes in-between apps and entrees was excessive.  Throughout our visit the manager (perhaps owner?) checked on us a couple times and then said good night from the patio as we headed out. As I said earlier I’d like to see what the happy hour specials look like because while I might not make this a regular stop, perhaps a quick drink and appetizer in the evening would be nice here.  I feel like it fits in pretty well in Stone Creek, and with the crowd it had on this Thursday night it should be around for the foreseeable future.  This is probably the most solid collection of restaurants in a single spot in Roseville.