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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cibo Wine Bar

     Everything sounds more fanciful in Italian. Naming a restaurant "Food" seems lazy and uninspired, but you translate the word to "Cibo", and it's a brand new day. Also, "wine bar" belies all the other wonders this establishment offers. August brings the beginning of Miami Spice season, the perfect opportunity to discover these wonders at a reasonable price.The beauty of the Miami Spice prix fixe lunch is the variety of dishes you get to sample for a mere $23, a price normally attributed to one single dish in many mid- to upscale places. And this blogger is on a budget.
Chrome, glass, and thick butcher block tables captivate as you enter the modern space located on the legendary Miracle Mile of Coral Gables in the heart of Miami. It's always a happy moment for me when I arrive at a new place during a lull. It gives me the freedom to take pictures and talk to the staff at my own pace without becoming a nuisance to other patrons. My BFFD (Best Friend for a Day) is Tristan, the bartender who introduced me to the Dopocena, a luxurious cocktail of two vodkas, Frangelico, Bailey's, Borghetti (coffee liqueur), and a shot of espresso. What's not to love?

     Today I'm in the delightful company of my well-traveled, epicurean friend, Claudia and her daughter Sofia. Between the three of us, all selections on the prix fixe menu will be sampled. No dish left behind. We begin with baked eggplant, grilled calamari, and Polpettine, or small meatballs. The eggplant is hearty and unctuous, swathed in melted parmigiano and bocconcini, or mozzarellas the size of an egg. The calamari were a wee bit underseasoned, but the Polpettine's mix of veal, pork, and beef produced a unique flavor that was light and sweet. 
     Our entrees were a tagliatelle bolognese, a chicken parmigiano with Tuscan kale and fingerling potatoes, and Trota alla Griglia, a grilled trout in lemon caper sauce, baby squash, and fava bean ragu. The pasta was predictable, but the chicken was tender and breaded and sauced to perfection. The trout came in the most promising presentation. Everything around it was savory and satisfying. The fish itself, however, was bland. Trout doesn't have a 'fishy' taste, so it's important to enhance its subtle flavor with proper seasoning. This version disappointed.
     Ricotta cheesecake is quickly becoming my favorite variety of this familiar dessert. Today's lemon-infused slice came in the company of fresh berries and caramel drizzle.The risk is great when you are faced with something that makes love to your mouth with every bite. Enough said.
     The other dessert choice was a vanilla bean panacotta with Prosecco fizz and berries. I find this sweet indulgence tricky. Subtle flavor and texture somewhere between flan and pudding must be accomplished for it to be a success. This one was skillfully executed. Hats off, indeed.

     Overall, my first Miami Spice adventure of 2016 had many more positives than negatives. A great start to the most delicious time of the year!

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