[Trying out this new Photo Story format. If it fails utterly, you can see the full text, photos with captions in-line, at http://theoffalo.com/2014/06/ciboteca/.]
From the people who brought you Piccolo Venice and Hostaria del Piccolo, CiBOTECA (I’ll stick to the way they capitalize it, at least this once) is ostensibly a market that also serves sandwiches and pastries, but across multiple visits, I have yet to see anyone pluck a jar of truffle salt or olive oil from the shelves for purchase. I’ve also not seen that many people buying the beautiful desserts under brightly lit glass displays. However, the place does serve as an excellent sandwich shop, a calm respite from the frenetic energy of Bay Cities just a few blocks away.
On our first visit, we had two sandwiches from the Panini menu and a few items from the Gastronomia menu:
I got the “PorKetta” (on the menu it’s all caps with the “K” in a different color) panino, which was made with the cold-cut version of porchetta, not the roasted kind with the crispy rind on the outside. It went well with the artichokes, but I didn’t get much of a sense of the truffle mayo. The ciabatta was excellent, light and crisped by the press
I also got a side of baby octopus salad, while my wife got a side of roasted carrots. The octopus was tender yet snappy, while the carrots were not overly caramelized.
My younger daughter wanted the lamb skewers, which the kitchen warmed up. The lamb, rather than being solid cubes of meat, were sliced strips that were folded up and then skewered. Because of that, parts of the meat were more well done and tougher than other parts.
The crowd favorite was my wife’s “Pollo” panino. I’m not a chicken sandwich guy and even I loved the bite I had. The chicken was moist, the pancetta crisp, but the thing that pushed it over the edge was the rosemary mayo! We almost ordered another one after my wife finished hers, with help from my daughter.
The “Cotto” was for my older daughter, who has a soft spot (pun intended) for brie. She really liked this, but didn’t like the brie rind, which I’ve told her is edible, but she won’t eat it.
I wanted to try the “Hostaria” since it’s pork belly! The pickled onions were good but kind of overshadowed the pork belly a bit, though that was good too. The ciabatta with the sesame, poppy, and maybe sunflower seeds all over it was excellent, crisp like the regular ciabatta with the added nuttiness from the seeds.
We wanted to see what the tuna sandwich was like, but we didn’t want to order too much, so we got the tuna crostino instead. Since the crostini are already made and in the case, if it doesn’t get bought and eaten right away, it risks drying out. Unfortunately, this was the case for us. The bread was tough, the tuna had dry “edges”.