Last Wednesday evening, I had the opportunity to attend a friends-and-family preview of the new Cibrèo Italian Kitchen in the Theater District in downtown Cleveland.
As I walked into the space – recently taken over by the Driftwood Restaurant Group - I took two steps into the entryway, my jaw dropping in seeing the remodel. If you spent any time in the old Bricco space along Euclid Avenue, you can see the structure of the previous tenant, but otherwise, being in Cibrèo feels like you’ve traveled thousands of miles to a small village in Tuscany.
As was the case during the media preview of Washington Place Bistro & Inn and the taping of the Cooking Channel’s Unique Eats episode, the staff at Cibrèo was not thrown by my gluten intolerance – even in an Italian style setting. While I asked to simply let me know what items I should not eat, they took the time and care to make substitutions for me. Taking it another step further, team member Greg had even remembered me from the Unique Eats taping, stopping by to say hello and continuing to check on me throughout the evening. He truly embodies those words of “Gracious Service” and “Attention to Every Detail” are in Driftwood’s tagline – as did many others of their staff that evening.
After a welcome from Restaurateur/Chef Scott Kuhn, the preview dinner began, starting with a Sausage, Porcini, and Bean Soup:
Michelle at Cleveland Foodie shared how to make this soup on her blog last week, which I sent along to two people at the dinner since it was a favorite of many around the dining room. It’s easier to make than it looks, but that’s the beauty in dishes like this one.
Next up: Risotto Funghi with porcini, truffle, shiitake and pecorino toscano:
Hans isn’t a fan of mushrooms, so I had pretty much this entire serving dish to myself. And as Katrina pointed out, the pictures of this dish across the internet are quite misleading – the portion was quite large, and quite delicious. I did my best to pace myself as we had quite the meal ahead of us, sneaking out as many porcinis as I could before it was time for the next course.
From there, the Bolognese made with the trifecta of veal, pork and beef was presented:
While the menu featured a pappardelle noodle, I was treated with a corn spaghetti as my gluten free version.
Chef Erik Martinez stopped by our table to get my opinion on the corn spaghetti. While he shared with the crowd that the restaurant is currently importing their pasta (but do plan to start making it in house), he was interested to see how this gluten free version worked. Not quite as visually striking as the pappardelle, but still this gluten free noodle was one of the best options I had to date. I don’t eat all that much pasta anymore, but that night I ate every single bite. Which was followed by the consideration of licking the bowl. I’m Italian at heart – give me a hearty meat sauce and I’m quite content! I held my composure instead, although I almost requested a second round…
Somehow, we found room in our stomachs for another course: the Pork Osso Buco with brown butter polenta, gremolata and swiss chard:
…as I was treated to braised chicken thighs, served with the polenta and chard:
…and the pleasure was all mine. Cheesy, thick polenta combined with the hearty dark meat of the chicken and the sturdiness of the greens worked wonders in that serving dish. I noticed how easily the pork fell apart as Hans ate every single bit that was presented.
To finish the meal, we all dove into gelato options: passion fruit and Nutella:
I didn’t think life could get sweeter – then Nutella gelato appeared. Ready to claim it just for myself, I took a stab at the passion fruit to be equally as content. The perfect bit of sweetness to end the evening.
LONG STORY SHORT: I had high expectations that were far surpassed at Cibrèo that evening. From the attentiveness of the staff to the quality of the food, we loved this special dining experience. I am thrilled to have a new option to enjoy in one of my favorite neighborhoods of Cleveland, and wish the entire team at Driftwood the best as they continue to thrive all over Northeastern Ohio.
Cibrèo opened for dinner and lunch earlier this week. Cibrèo Privato, the private event space, opens later this month. Follow the restaurant on Twitter at @CibreoCleveland and like them on Facebook to keep up on the happenings at this new Cleveland dining location.
Disclosure: The team at Driftwood Restaurant Group offered me two media passes to attend this preview dinner at Cibrèo Italian Kitchen. All thoughts and opinions are my own.