Since the summer of 2005, Cibo has been serving wood-fired pizzas, homemade pastas, antipasti and other Italian comfort food favorites in a charming historical house in downtown Phoenix. The bungalow-style home dates back to 1913 and features a large brick patio out front with twinkling lights and heat lamps in the cooler months. It’s not in the touristy area of downtown, or even a populated area, but for years this little gem has consistently stayed open and earned great reviews, which highlight their (gluten-free) pizzas, attentive, friendly service and the overall ambience.
While there are many parts to a successful business, the food needs to be delicious and consistent, and head chef and co-owner Guido Saccone delivers. Growing up in Napoli, one of the great food cities in Italy, he worked in kitchens with his brothers and learned how to cook the staples of Southern Italy. In 2005 Guido and wife Michelle opened Cibo, bringing the essence of those Napoli Italian pizzerias here to Phoenix. “We’ve had a wonderful relationship with our team from the beginning, raising our families together. I can honestly say they are my best friends,” says co-owner Michael Krassner. “Cibo is our only restaurant, we’ve been tempted to open elsewhere but we still haven’t figured out how we would keep the same quality we have at our current location in a second location.” Their authentic family restaurant really is one of a kind, and their diners are savvy and can feel that.
Speaking of the diners, co-owner and front of house manager Krassner credits their “incredible clientele” for the longevity of their restaurant. “The local downtown community has been our bread and butter since day one. We have many of the same customers we had since the beginning, and the same goes for the staff. We are so lucky to have them all.”
Giving back to their customers and community is important to them. Over the past few years, they’ve provided daily meals for thousands of needy people at the nonprofit organization, Andre House in downtown Phoenix. They also love helping their customers directly with things like setting up marriage proposals, memorials and events. Every day it’s something and we’re always happy to do it, it’s why we chose to be in this business in the first place,” says Krassner. “I believe the restaurant industry in general has really grown more valuable to the community in the recent decades with the rise of technology. For many people, a restaurant might be the only time that day they interact with others in a real and meaningful way. Because generally speaking, it’s a time when most put their phones away and have authentic, human interaction.”
Cibo also thinks about its impact on the environment and has taken steps to incorporate sustainable practices. Over 95% of their produce is locally sourced and you’ll find plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on their menu, including vegan cheese and dough. Although the City of Phoenix stopped its recycling service, the staff looks for creative ways to recycle; all to-go containers are made of non-bleached, recycled paper, and they personally try to recycle any cardboard and wine bottles. They’re proud to report there is virtually no waste from their kitchen!
Cibo is based on classic Southern Italian dishes so the menu doesn’t change all that much. However, they do have pasta and pizza specials, as well as a Market Salad that changes each month featuring their fresh, local produce. The most popular menu items include the classic Margherita pizza, the Tartufata pizza, the Linguine Cacio e Pepe, Tagliatelle Bolognese, and to finish, one of their Nutella crepes really hits the spot. Pair your meal with a glass of wine from their ever-evolving wine list or a crisp cocktail and you’ve got a fantastic meal in store. Take a look at their menu online and see for yourself—mouth-watering photos of nearly every item on the menu.
Cibo is open Tuesday – Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday dinner only.
603 North 5th Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85003
Cibo’s Arancini by Guido Saccone
Makes 10 arancini, for about 4 servings.
1 lb Arborio rice
¼ lb ground beef
¼ bag (4 oz) frozen peas
½ onion, chopped
1 small can (10 oz) tomato sauce
1 (16 oz) ball of fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1 ½ cups bread crumbs
2 cups canola oil
Cook rice in boiling water for 20 minutes, or until soft. While rice is boiling, cook ground beef in a pan with no oil until the juice has evaporated. In another pan, warm tomato sauce for 10 minutes on medium heat, adding salt to taste.
Chop onion and sauté in a pan in some of the canola oil with frozen peas. Drain the rice and let it cool. Add beef to the sauté pan with peas and onion. Add enough tomato sauce to the cooled rice to give it a light red color. Add the rest of the sauce to the ground beef combination.
Take a half a handful of rice and press it into the palm of your hand, making a cup-like shape. Add some ground beef filling and cubed mozzarella pieces to the middle of the rice. Take another half handful of rice to close the rice ball.
Shape the ball, pressing firmly with your hands. Roll the ball in breadcrumbs and fry in 350° oil until the arancini has a nice brown color.