REVIEW: Can Il Cibreo be the next Campo?
Restaurant openings in our area run the gamut. Harlem’s Red Rooster, riding on the coattails of its ‘Top Chef Masters’ winning cook Marcus Samuelsson, debuted on its opening night with fanfare enthusiastically supplied by New York City’s culinary elite. Sip on Amsterdam enjoyed a bustling and successful opening night after a Blitzkrieg of marketing and promotions gave discounts and coupons to customers. Lacking Red Rooster’s celebrity or Sip’s promise of free food, Il Cibreo’s opening night fell short; perhaps because Wednesday night was more of a facelift debut than restaurant opening.
Il Cibreo looks and feels the same as Campo. The bar is still at the front with tables to the side and a proper dining area relegated to the back. With no prior renovation construction done, Il Cibreo retains the same am-I-bar-or-restaurant layout as Campo.
There are of course some changes designed to evoke that rustic Italian feel that Il Cibreo is evidently trying to create. Large wooden wheels adorn the partition between bar and dining areas. A farmer’s scythe is mounted atop the bar. There is a new wine rack and pots and pans hang from above the bar. Were these things here before? As a friend notes, it’s hard to remember what Campo looked like.
Il Cibreo furthers the tema rustica with a menu that is written in Italian. It should be noted, however, that an Italian menu does not an Italian restaurant make.
The rollatini, a new addition to the pasta-heavy menu, was a little too watery and despite its mozzarella casing fell apart. Their spaghetti and meatballs and flatbread pizza, however, were very good but, then again, they were good at Campo too. At the top of its menu, Il Cibreo exclaims “At Il Cibreo we recommend sharing” but the portions are too small for more than one person. With the average price of a dish around $12, you won’t be breaking the bank but you could get more for your money a couple of doors north at Deluxe.
Il Cibreo still has to iron out its menu but its cocktails are definitely worth a try. Their eclectic drink menu includes such cocktails as “The Gladiator” (Bud Light, Soco, Roses Lime), “Hot Mess” (Sweet Tea Vodka, peach schnapps, lemon) and “Italian 75” (Bulldog Gin, St. Germaine, Champagne).
The problem with Italian restaurants is that they often end up falling into the trap of becoming Italian-inspired rather than authentic Italian. Regardless of their food, Il Cibreo will be aided by the constant flux of students needing to take their parents somewhere to dinner. It remains to be seen, however, if Il Cibreo will be able to carve its own niche in the Broadway restaurant scene or if it will just become that place that used to be that place where we all went during NSOP week.
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