“I was petrified to open an Italian place in Little Italy right after Paul Minnillo,” explained Scott Kuhn to hungry diners at the start of last night’s media preview for Cibreo. Kuhn of course was referring to Minnillo’s long-standing Baricelli Inn in Little Italy which Kuhn turned into the non-Italian Washington Place. Cibreo is Kuhn’s latest restaurant endeavor, along with partner chef Chris Hodgson.
Clearly Kuhn got over any reservations he may have had as Cibreo celebrates all things Tuscany in the heart of PlayhouseSquare. Kuhn, who is a regular visitor and constant admirer of Tuscany, strived to create something that was truly an authentic replica of one of his favorite travel destinations. In fact, much of the design (and even the work itself – like the impressive bar), was done by Kuhn.
That type of dedication shows. Having never been to Tuscany – yet, this space is what I’d expect to find: lots of stone, wood and barrels, which make for a rather rustic and cozy atmosphere. And scattered throughout the white cloth tables are a handful of larger communal tables for bigger parties or strangers who appreciate the concept. Include me in that group as those were my favorite tables – no tablecloths, just a wooden table and great conversation.
But what good is a table without the food? We were treated to a five-course tasting of some favorites from both Kuhn and executive chef Eric Martinez: sausage, porcini and bean soup, risotto funghi, veal, pork and beef Bolognese with pappardelle, pork osso buco with brown butter polenta and peach gelato.
As we head into fall (yea!), you must – I repeat you must, try the soup! It was absolutely fantastic with just the right amount of heat. I enjoyed it so much I asked the chef for the recipe. And like a true chef, he didn’t know the measurements per se, but shared the basic steps (below).
Looking through the menu, nearly every dish looked tempting. “Our menu is authentic to Tuscany, not Americanized,” explained Kuhn.
Cibreo, and its adjoining private facility, open on Monday. Which coincidently is a good day to visit because on Mondays, they will offer two entrees, a bottle of wine and a shared appetizer for only $40.
I’m excited to go back and explore more of the menu and wine. Its location, staff, food and attention to detail will surely make Cibreo a star within the theater district.
Sausage + porcini + bean soup
Step 1. Sweat celery, carrots and onions; add a little garlic
Step 2. Add Italian sausage
Step 3. Deglaze with white wine
Step 4. Add chicken stock
Step 5. Add cannellini beans, and a little of the bean liquid
Step 6. Puree most of the soup
Step 7. Add some kale and mushrooms
Step 8. Top with olive oil and parmesan