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Santa Croce: Trattoria Cibreo

Via dei Macci 122r , Phone: 055.2341100 (no reservations)

Closing day: Sunday and Monday

Reviewed by: colleenk from MA, review #1334

When: 2004

A truly elegant, delicious and excellently priced meal for the extraordinary quality of the food.

I will happily add my accolades to this wonderful trattoria. I had the pleasure of dining at the more expensive Ristorante Cibreo previous to this trip so was really looking forward to experiencing the less expensive version. As they don't take reservations, the first surprise was being able to walk right in on a weekday afternoon in late April at 1:15 pm. A group from my language school went and we had lots of fun tasting each other's choices. There was a wonderful yellow pepper soup, a nice minestrone soup, some cod, veal and squid dishes that were all divine and a most delicious risotto. It was all more than wonderful. I will be hard pressed not to have at least 1 meal here every trip to Florence!

Reviewed by: jgk from FL, review #905

When: 2004

An amazingly delicious and delightful dining experience. An Italian restaurant with NO PASTA on the menu.

We absolutely loved our meal at Trattoria Cibreo. It reminded me of eating at Cafe Fanny in Berkely--the finest ingredients speaking for themselves in simple, rusticly elegant, preparations. Like Cafe Fanny is upstairs from the cuisine trend setting Chez Panisse, Cibreo is the next door, little sibling to Ristorante Cibreo.

We tasted the sformato of potato and ricotta--more like a quiche filling than a souffle, so full of flavor with a perfect presentaion, surrounded on the plate by pine nuts, a bit of pesto 2 little piles of grated chesses and perfect, fresh tasting olive oil. The Porcini passato was sublime--fully tasting of the earthy mushrooms and olive oil and nothing else. Our kids had the cold chicken plate, simple and delicious. My husband ate the papa pomoduro soup--rich and wonderful, and a tuna dish which was perfection. They also served us little plates of white beans, chick peas and potatoes, all tasting pure and wonderful. Good wines, great service. A true "don't miss" spot when in Florence

Reviewed by: maureen from MA (moderator), review #745

When: 2004

A delicious lunch and great company at Trattoria Cibreo.

I was very excited to read on the Slowtalk MB that Trattoria Cibreo is open for lunch. Most of my dinners out in Florence involve my 2 nieces, and I am fairly sure the choices of 1) getting there at the early hour of 7- 7:30pm or 2) getting there later and waiting in line for a table, would be unacceptable to them. Reservations are not accepted, and there are only about a dozen tables. One of them would probably have a craving for pasta, which is not on the menu.

Cristina, another Slowtalk moderator, and I met at the Lazzi bus station in Florence and after a morning of cultural enrichment in the center, we headed towards Cibreo. OK, that's not totally true. We both had lists of errands we wanted to accomplish (Chinese 5 spice powder, among other things for Cristina, and for me some webbing to finish re-furbishing a chair). Any cultural enrichment that occurred was incidental.

At a little after 1:30pm there were only 3 other tables seated. The menu is the same at lunch and dinner. Since it was Cristina's Birthday Week, and I almost never eat in a real restaurant for lunch on a weekday, we ordered a bottle of the house red wine, which that day was Santa Cristina. And a bottle of water.

I knew what I wanted for a secondo- cappello del prete. I had tried it at Cibreo last year; I was unfamiliar with it and the waiter assured me I would like it. It seems to be a sausage-type thing, similiar to cottechino but deep red in color. It is served with a small, almost-cheesecake topped with delicious mostarda. The combination of the rich, flavorful cappello del prete, the sweet crust, tart cheese and sinus-clearing mostarda is heaven on a fork. But I'm gettting ahead of myself!

The other stand out was the tomato aspic, a Cibreo classic I had never had. It seems almost impossible to have such strong tomato and basil flavors in what looks like very soft Jello. The other antipasto was traditional crostini with liver. It was delicious, almost as good as mine (as taught to me by my Florentine brother-in-law).

We also split a vegetable timbale; it was good, not great, and I think I would have eaten more of it, and appreciated it more had it been dinner rather than lunch.

I can not remember what Cristina had for her secondo; it may have been the polpettone. I do recall it came with maionese.

For 2 antipasti, 1 primo, 2 secondi, 1 bottle of Santa Cristina, 1 bottle of water: 52 Euro. For a great meal at a great restaurant with Cristina: priceless.

Reviewed by: Colleen from CA (moderator), review #47

When: 2003

The food was so good, we went again two nights later! Maureen Fant's book describes the food as "idiosyncratic Tuscan" (eg., no pasta).

My friend Nancy - who lives in Florence - recommended that we eat at Trattoria Cibrčo. The food was so good, we went again two nights later! The menu changes on a daily basis, so the dishes listed below may not be available when you visit ...

Tuesday, 8 January 2002: To start, Nancy and I shared an order of Crostini Toscana, light, fluffy and rich chicken liver pâté on three toast triangles ... and realized immediately that we should have requested two orders of this delight. Then I had the softest polenta - creamy and smooth, topped with butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Oh - so good! Nancy had zuppa di pesce - a wonderfully rich puréed *essence*, but not "fishy," if you know what I mean.

Next for me was mild but tasty sausage and white beans in a creamy tomato based sauce. I don't know how they infuse so much robust *flavor* into their dishes, but ... Nancy's secondi was an excellent eggplant parmesano. She says when it's done well there's nothing like it, and Cibrčo does it very well - without battering and frying the eggplant first.

A point here: Cibrčo doesn't serve pasta, something that is easy to overlook when reading the fascinating menu ...

We shared a bottle of the house red wine - which was dry and delicious (and only €5.16) - and aqua minerale. We decided we had to try their house made desserts, so I managed to eat a piece of incredible cheesecake topped with their fresh orange marmalade and panna, and Nancy made me :-) taste her airy coffee mousse topped with a dark - but not bitter - chocolate sauce. Total for all this sumptuous food and great service: €48

Note: The Trattoria does NOT accept reservations. It opens at around 7pm, and has only about seven tables. Nancy and I sat at a table for two, but you may be asked to share your table. There are two other Cibrčo entities nearby - the Caffč Cibrčo and the more formal Il Cibrčo restaurant.

Thursday 10 January: We arrived at Trattoria Cibrčo minutes after the doors opened, and were seated immediately at "our" corner table. Nancy and I agreed that we should again share a bottle of the delicious house red wine, and fizzy aqua minerale. Since we knew how delicious the Crostini Toscana were, we started by ordering two servings of this light yet rich chicken liver pâté appetizer. The chef must have been in a generous mood, because the portions were much larger than on Tuesday night.

I greedily ate all of mine, but Nancy was smart enough to enjoy the flavorful pâté without eating the three large crostini. For my primi, I had a wonderfully rich farinata con cavolo nero. It was so creamy, it was almost like a bisque. Nancy's minestrone was also deliciously rich tasting. We each ordered the Shish Kebab Toscana as a secondi - spiced, grilled and shredded chicken, pork and beef. The portion looked small, but the flavor was so strong and hearty, it was more than enough. After our meat dish, we shared a fresh house insalata mista with olive oil and vinegar dressing.

To finish, Vin Santo and cheesecake topped with Sicilian orange marmalade for me, and Vin Santo with sweet and crunchy cantucci for Nancy. All in all, another superb meal! Total cost for two meals, €61.

Reviewed by: Barb from KY, review #46

When: 2001

An elegant restaurant (Il Cibreo), a more simple trattoria (Trattoria Cibreo) and a bar-caffe. It is recommended in the Faith Willinger book and the Maureen Fant book.

Directions: Near Mercato Sant' Ambrogio in the neighborhood of Santa Croce.

We ate at Trattoria Cibreo, and yes, we shared a table ... we are used to doing that in Europe, love it, in fact, but we were like sardines! The fact that it was winter and everyone had heavy coats, etc. that took up more room made it even more crowded! The waitress was EXTREMELY helpful and described every dish in great detail.

I decided to try a meatloaf thing, mainly because it had homemade mayonnaise, but she said I probably would not like it, as it was served cold. At her suggestion, I got a chicken dish that was also served with homemade mayo. The dish was pork, chicken and spices ground together, then stuffed into a chicken neck and cooked ... I'm not sure how, but anyway, it was served with the chicken head still attached to the neck, and the neck with the stuffed mixture was sliced and served cold with the mayo. It was quite spicy ... you really needed the mayo to tone it down a bit.

Anyway, when I ordered, the waitress said that she would ask the chef to remove the head for me ... I'm not sure if she thought I was a wimp because I was an American, or what, but I said NO! Absolutely not!! I want the dish served exactly as you described! Needless to say, my husband and I, as well as our 2 Italian tablemates had quite a good laugh as the chicken watched while I ate! I have regretted not having a small pocket-sized camera with me! It's certainly been one of our best memories!

Pauline's Note: The Faith Willinger book says Cibreo does not serve pasta, but she says they have vegetarian eggplant and serve fish, so vegetarians could still go there.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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