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 for Italian and international foodstuffs that also sells pastries and sandwiches made with imported Italian meats, but across multiple visits, I have yet to see anyone pluck a jar of truffle salt or bottle of 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, I have seen many people enjoy their wonderful sandwiches in a bright, casual environment that stands as a 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.
Our second visit was a takeout order of the vaunted Pollo. I think we got two or three of them, and my wife and two daughters (older one wasn’t with us on our first visit) polished them off in a matter of minutes.
On our third visit, my wife and younger daughter ordered the same thing as on our first visit, Pollo panino and lamb skewers respectively, but my older daughter and I tried two other sandwiches and a crostino:
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”. It wasn’t very appetizing.
Something about our third visit was quite as good as the first two visits, besides the dry crostino. Since we had the Pollo on all three occasions, it was easier to compare our experiences. The flavors and even the construction of the sandwiches were just a bit off kilter. The food was still delicious, so despite that, we have no reservations about going back or recommending the place. The bread, crisped by the press, alone is worth trying it, and it won’t give you TMJ like Bay Cities’ bread (as much as I like it too).
606 Broadway Ste 101
Santa Monica, CA 90401