Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Restaurant Review: Osteria Cibo Rustico

Cibo Rustico Osteria Atlanta

A new southern Italian spot, Osteria Cibo Rustico, recently opened in Toco Hills from Chris Hadermann and JP Piemonte, the team behind The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill and Milton's Cuisine & Cocktails. For folks who live in our area (Virginia Highlands and environs), this is a welcome addition to the restaurant scene. Sure, we have plenty of high end restaurants around here, but there are only so many that are so reasonably priced and family friendly without sacrificing quality.

I have a newfound love for any restaurant where I can have a nice evening out without springing for a babysitter. Cibo's strip center location in family friendly Toco Hills is a good indicator that babies are welcome. Fortunately, with it's pleasant dining room replete with exposed brick and low lighting, you forget its less than sexy location and actually feel like you're having a real, adult night out. Don't worry, Cibo isn't overrun with squawking kids by any stretch; I just want to highlight that you can feel comfortable toting yours along.
Dining room at Cibo Rustico
The dining room at Cibo Rustico
As you might expect, the menu is divided into antipasti, salads, pastas, entrees and shareable sides. For appetizers, I'd recommend avoiding out of season tomatoes, offered in a variety of caprese salads, and instead opt for year-round crowdpleasers like fried polenta (polenta fritta) and and herbed ricotta served with grilled bread (Ricotta alle Erbe). Both were heartily enjoyed by three generations of our family on our most recent visit. Yes, even our baby loved the herbed ricotta!
Polenta fritta
Polenta fritta

Ricotta alle Erbe
Ricotta alle Erbe
Servings of the pastas and entrees are ginormous, especially when you consider their $10.95-17.95 price tags. On both of our visits, we shared a pasta and an entree among two adults (with nibbles for baby) and still had enough leftovers for two full meals the following day. Rigatoni alla Bolognese was hearty and traditional, and a Chicken Piccante Siciliana (served with spicy Calabrian chilies, toasted garlic, fennel sausage, pan sauce, house made polenta) had a pleasing kick and may have tasted even better as leftovers. Slightly less successful was the somewhat chewy veal piccata.
Rigatoni alla Bolognese
Rigatoni alla Bolognese

Veal Piccata
Veal Piccata

The real star was a gnocchi special. We were able to eat it on two separate occasions weeks apart, so hopefully it will become a permanent fixture. The chef is a real deal Italian, which is a rarity in Atlanta restaurants. He told us this gnocchi is his grandmother's recipe, and my own Italian American husband raved that this was some of the best gnocchi he's ever had in Atlanta. Since I've heard him complain about texture nearly every time he's had gnocchi, that's high praise. Funny enough, the gnocchi's biggest fan might be my 9 month old. The kid seriously went nuts for it, to the point that she cried when we wouldn't let her have any more of it. Clearly her Italian genes approve. My Italian American in-laws also raved about the gnocchi, so I'm just saying this stuff is approved by people who know!
Gnocchi at Osteria Cibo Rustico
The amazing, incredible gnocchi
Service on both occasions was incredibly warm and friendly, which was in perfect keeping with the overall vibe of the restaurant. I digress...we tried telling our charming waiter he looked like a young Edward Norton, but it turns out we are so old and our references (Fight Club, anyone?) so dated, that they were lost on the surprisingly mature looking 18 year old. Even while he was making me feel ancient, he was still so likable that I felt the need to say hi when we came back again. We don't get to go out as much as in our pre-baby days, so it's really saying something that we chose to go here again so soon after the first visit, but we thought this was the type of place the Mr's parents would love, and we were right. Cibo has officially joined spots like El Taco on my list of go-to family-friendly spots.

Osteria Cibo Rustico
2945 North Druid Hills Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329
(678) 704-2700


*Full disclosure: Although my first meal was comped, I always endeavor to offer my unbiased opinion of the experience! 



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