Cibo Wine Bar is Also Home to Award-Winning Food
By Lizzie Wilcox
That is how to pronounce Cibo, which means “food” in Italian. But food is not what they’re known for at the Miracle Mile restaurant. Opened in October 2011, Cibo Wine Bar is just that, a vino emporium with 48 wines, champagnes and Proseccos offered by the glass.
Tullio Calvello, the general manager since June 2012, will tell you that he was destined to work with wine. Raised in the Abruzzo region of Italy, “I grew up with my dad and brothers and cousins stomping the grapes,” Calvello says.
But Cibo also prides itself on a menu with nearly 100 choices, including 22 varieties of fresh pasta, 16 pizza choices, and a delightful selection of prosciutto, calamari, artichoke, zucchini, octopus, polenta – you get the idea. Over the years, it has won the New Times award for Best Restaurant in Coral Gables, Best Chef in Miami and, to be expected, Best Wine Selection in Miami.
Calvello himself is a former chef, but now is obsessed with the grape. Imbued with a family tradition of wine making, he can list all the ways wine can go wrong: whether it is fermented for too long or not long enough, what happens if the sugar level is wrong, and how it can turn more into vinegar than wine. “A wine maker today is a scientist. Basically he’s a chemist,” he says.
From happy hour to brunch to private wine tastings, there is always some way to taste what he is talking about. For starters, Cibo’s happy hour is 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, with all wines by the glass half-off, as well as select bottles. Sunday brunch also includes half-off bottles – but no bottomless mimosas, since Calvello says that means offering “the worst champagne in the world.”
“We have $40 to $50 bottles half-price and we’ll give you all the [freshly squeezed] orange juice you want,” he says.
And while the food is exceptional, wine leads the dance. For $75 per guest, you can do a customized tasting of five wines. You pick a wine region anywhere in the world and Chef Patrick Argentieri creates a menu for that tasting, pairing food with each of the five wines rather than the other way around.