Cibo Italian Bistro
Tastebuds Tango p>
Rohit Bal’s Cibo
By Ravi V. Chhabra
Italian for food is Cibo but the restaurant reeking of opulence at the very entrance onwards with the Roman-Scillilian facades and lavish interiors is not just that. The 700-seater fine dining with a private room has a well-stocked bar replete with superb Chilean, Californian wines and all the Glens (single and double malts from highlands of Scotland) plus the vodkas, gins, mocktails et al is manned by a highly experienced bartender Parvesh katoch, a professional juggler (Jinx and Olive).
The appetizers comprise fine assortment of Scarmoza Al Forno – smoked Italian cheese melted in wood fired oven, while non-vegetarians would love Antipasto Misto – a variety of Italian aged hams, salami and other meats with vegetables, nuts, cheese and honey. A variety of salads that includes beetroot and goat cheese salad with rucola and in-house (grown in the Cibo courtyard) sun-dried tomato dressing is highly refreshing. Chef Choubey, indeed, needs to be complimented for adding the fruit finishing touches for most of the preparations as dressing/garnishing as much as he plays with fresh greens with minimalistic oils and sauces.
The 31-years young Executive Chef Nishant Choubey is an IHM Bhopal graduate with 7-years hands-on, he has worked both in India and abroad in Dubai. He recently won the SUSTA (Southern United States Trade Association) sponsorship to the US for Gumbo Cook Off and says: "I was recommended by a co-chef, who liked my impromptu offer to let him try some of my European delicacies. I had a great training at thibodaux in the state of louisiana in which I learnt as a classroom session there was an itinerary which we followed which has cuisines from different parts of southern US like Delmar Island , Virginia , West Virginia, Tex Mex, Barbecue and this training is so handy for the future . I also travelled to New York after that and spent some good 20 days there eating in the best restaurants of the world like PER SER , NOBU AND AUTTO. Its been a knowledgeable tour which has given me lots of confidence and nurtured me to become a better chef in most ways”.
The initial course at Cibo on a Monday (I did not want to go on a packed weekend evening, being a silent diner who only wants the company of close ones and enchanting music) included a fine thinnest crust pizza that I had eaten till date! Thus, Cibo’s Gnocchi Di Patate Al Pesto should definitely be on your agenda when inside this restaurant. The homemade potato pasta simply melts in your mouth, while the spaghetti alio olio pepperoncino with salumi is a sublime option for meat eaters.
The main course has a variety of chicken, lamb and seafood dishes. An absolute must are some Italian meat skewers in the form of Bocconcini Di Pollo Allo Spiedino, where chicken/lamb is marinated with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, chilly flakes, sage and rosemary, and cooked on charcoal. The exotic tenderloin with foie gras done to guest’s likings and the confit duck leg is a delicacy and so is the duck breast.
While my vegetarian-for-Mondays guest loved the risotto in the form of three mushroom risotto with truffle oil and artichokes and polenta and the hint of Mediterranean is never discarded in the form of seafood bisque. The parma-wrapped chicken is a speciality from the parma region of Italy. I for one, loved all of these: Milano paper pizza with parma ham, Greek mussel stew, Pan fried polenta with bruled grapefruit and artichokes. Three mushroom risotto with twice cooked duck leg, tomato and jasmine tea with truffle oil, Gnocchi with pesto sauce and grilled basa fish with pesto and lime emulsion. Chef Nishant’s signature recipes non-boastfully are the Milano paper pizza with parma ham, charcoal roasted mushroom. Slow cooked pork bellly with sautern sauce and chocolate bonnet with 24 k gold leaf.
With India's fashion czar Rohit Bal and Alok Agarwal (co-owners) penchant for good music, I was distressed while having to sit through all of the recorded trashy Kenny G on such a fine evening and a visibly powerful party surround sound system. I was told there is an in-house DJ as well. On further probing why this musical jinx for the fine evening and if I could instead have some opera or chopin as respite, Chef Nishant extolled that almost everyone, including the DJ had flown off to Mumbai for the inauguration of the first Cibo in tinsel town and the high-tech DJ equipment had become almost defunct for now.
We wish this bistro well in Mumbai as long as they go low on the loud décor and play sensible music for the mindful! A meal for two at the Janpath Cibo costs Rs 2000 upwards. Cibo knows Italian tastebuds best in the capital city of food and is one restaurant that’s indeed chef-driven and that is its strongest point. Good going Chef Nishant.