Cibo (1103 S Braddock – Regent Square):
Ben and I had been trying to coordinate a double date with some other med school friends for awhile when we finally got together over dinner at Cibo. I read some varied online reviews of the space but was ready to give it a try due to the lovely company and the proximity to Ben’s apartment.
Unfortunately, the night got off to a bit of a rocky start. We arrived on time for a 9PM reservation. As I scanned the small space, I didn’t see any tables that were near completing their meal – not a good sign. The host was very nice but did inform us that they were running behind. He handed over some drink coupons for The Loft (a bar above D’s Six Pax and Dogz that I did not know existed) and took down our cell phone number. As we were in no particular rush, we took it in stride and met our friends at The Loft. After a round of drinks, we released it was nearly 9:40PM and we still had not been called. We decided to walk back over to Cibo to investigate.
As we arrived, the host rushed over to tell us they were just clearing a table. We were seated and offered a complimentary meat and cheese plate due to our inconvenience – a very nice touch. Our group was in good spirits and took the wait in stride. However, I could see circumstances where this wait would not be acceptable. However, everyone we encountered was very friendly and helpful and I understand how the small space could get backed up and affect a late reservation. I know Ben and I are abnormal in making 9PM dinner reservations in the ‘burgh. Someday we will learn.
Our waiter did not rush us at all, which was appreciated. Unfortunately, they were out of a few things on the menu though. I ended up ordering the Zuppa de Pesce which was a huge portion of juicy shrimp, clams, mussels, and lovely white fish in a light garlickly broth. To be honest, I am not sure what the others ordered although everyone else ended up with pasta. And everyone cleaned their plates. Plates with big portions of pasta on them. Could have been the hour, could have been the drinks (Cibo is BYO, yay!) – but everyone was happily slurping through their meals. I tasted Ben’s pasta and it was perfectly al dente.
I give Cibo a definite thumbs up, despite the reservation issue. They handled the mishap with as much hospitality as possible (we had all but forgotten about it by the end of the meal which I think it a great sign of customer service) and in the end served us a solid meal. This place is a step above the normal Pittsburgh Italian American food but still serves big portions in a casual environment. I would definitely recommend Cibo to others but please do make a reservation. The space is small.
Las Velas (Market Square – Downtown) –
I have been trying to get to Las Velas for awhile. I believe I bought a Groupon (maybe LivingSocial?) for the spot in 2010. Then Las Velas experienced a devastating fire which forced the restaurant to temporarily close. And then my Groupon expired before they reopened (which I still probably look into – never got my money back on that).
And so, I made my first trip to Las Velas about 2 weeks ago for lunch. I was with a group of six so we tried to arrive on the early side to get seated and attempt to avoid a bit of the noon rush. We were seated quickly but unfortunately things went downhill a bit from there. It probably took 10 minutes to get drinks, another 10 to order, and then a good 25-30 minutes before the food arrived. And then we had no silverware. Hmmm. This didn’t seem to be a well polished lunch service. I ordered the carnitas tacos and they were just ok.
Although I think I would return and give this place another try for dinner (I have seen positive reviews!) I know the other people I was dining with were not impressed and likely will not return. That’s a bit of a shame. I know lunch hours can be crazy but this just seemed like too much disorganization and wait time for average food.