Jun 17, '07

Il Cibreo (Florence) – talent or marketing?


What I love about Italian food is that you don’t need to go to a fancy high-end place to enjoy it. Italian cooking is all about simplicity and conviviality and even in a simple “walk-in” trattoria, you will most likely find what you are looking for. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have to check out the most famous restaurants of the city and IL Cibreo was my first-night target which many claims is the best in Florence together with a three-star Michelin dinosaur Enoteca Pinchiorri (that I will review in the coming days).

So what is so special about Il Cibreo?

il cibreo

Well, my first observation was that it doesn’t have a written menu. A waiter sits down at your table and explains all that they have that day. You will forget most of the menu the next second ( as it’s late and you drink the wonderful Tuscany wine), but that is quite an interesting approach to make the experience more convivial.

The other important fact about Il Cibreo is that it doesn’t serve pasta. Any kind of pasta. I found that quite abnormal as for me an Italian restaurant without pasta is like a Japanese place without sushi. But here is when the originality of Fabio Picchi ( the chef that has been cooking in Il Cibreo for almost two decades) starts. If I had to describe my impression of the dinner at Picchi’s restaurant, it would be “It was all about soups and “pureeish” texture”.

Tomato soup
Pappa al Pomodoro

The amuse bouche of tomato gelatin, “Pappa al Pomodoro” soup, room temperature veal, swordfish with tomato sauce. Desserts like flourless chocolate cake or cheesecake…

I can’t say that the dinner was not enjoyable, but, after all, I found the omnipresent tomato paste too much. The “Pappa al Pomodoro” soup was a little like you were eating a pasta sauce; the swordfish was not a big filet of fish as you would imagine, but small pieces of fish mixed with tomato sauce. ( almost like a porridge of fish and tomatoes). The room temperature veal (with sauce again) was the best dish of the dinner as well as the flourless chocolate cake which was divine.

To answer my question in the title of this post, I think that Il Cibreo is very overrated and yet another “legend” created by the powerful travel and food guides.  I ate nothing special and the food sounded much better from the very entertaining waiter than it tasted. Also, I didn’t see even one local eating there. Just Japanese, English, American and now Lithuanian (me :)) tourists…

Subscribe to Luxeat Newsletter to receive exclusive culinary stories and carefully curated restaurant recommendations