Downtown anchor Cibo Ristorante (649-8151) isn't known for its food, but that is partly because its music and bar scene are such strong elements—and it can still thrive with conventioneers and tourists who are happy to have a nice sit-down spot across the street from Portola Hotel and don't need five-star destinations.
But the food is suddenly more inviting after a menu makeover that pushed prices down and added an avalanche of new items.
"We are pretty much are a new restaurant," GM-owner Mario Catalano says. "It's an entirely new menu fusing the best of Old and New World Italian cuisine."
It definitely trends more contemporary, and the prices are a eency bit more reasonable for what you get.
Lobster and filet carpaccio ($13) appears on the appetizer menu with things like the panzanella ($8), barbecued baby octopus ($11) and a salumi e formaggio plate ($14). Crab-radicchio risotto ($16) jumps out from the pastas. The housemade Italian sausage gives the roasted tomato polenta ($17) a boost.
Catalano highlights the grilled baby beets with Prosecco panna cotta ($9), the Pizza Cibo ($14) with prosciutto di Parma, crimini mushrooms and truffled radicchio, the flat-iron steak $25), and traditional putanesca ($14) as early favorites.
Even more welcoming: New happy hour deals 5-7pm that are elevated by the fact that the promotion happens every day, weekends included, and not crazy early like some less enthusiastically happy hours, which start at 3pm, and which will remain unnamed.
The new happy hour small plates include grilled prawns with salsa verde and black garlic ($6), lemon- and caper-dusted calamari ($6), tomato bruschetta ($3), polenta caprese ($3) and personal pizzas ($7).
Specialty cocktails—normally $9-$12—are half price.