Cibo has been on the short list for a while, but last Saturday evening was my first visit. It’s a popular Phoenix pizza spot in a busy location, and my party of four came away with a mostly positive impression – I think we’ll be back.

Cibo is at 5th Avenue and Fillmore, and has a miniscule parking lot, but don’t expect to find space there on the weekends. We parked on the street about three blocks away, which was no big deal; we saw lots of other patrons doing the same. We bypassed the lovely-looking patio, which was crowded, but the evening was entirely too warm for outdoor dining so we headed inside.

Cibo’s décor and layout are pretty fabulous for a pizza joint, and we were impressed when we got in the door. It’s essentially a cottage situated on a residential block, and it’s packed full of tables, most of which are a bit too close together, requiring guests to elbow and crab-walk their way around. It works, somehow – none of us were terribly put off by the tight feel of the dining area, but note that it is indeed tight.

We had a reservation, which I absolutely recommend for a weekend night. We were seated immediately, but there was a big crowd waiting for first available seating. The tight seating and noisy crowd will probably make Cibo largely child-unfriendly, too. It’s very pretty inside, with dim lighting and beautiful wall Italian décor. We only caught a glimpse of the patio, but it was crowded, too, with candlelit tables and lots of old, pretty trees.

Our waitress came by within just a few minutes and had our drinks up about five minutes later. We ordered a few sodas, water and a bottle of decently priced red wine. The sodas are served in single-serving cans and bottles, which means higher prices, so our two Diet Coke drinkers stuck with one can apiece. In the interest of providing as thorough a review as possible, we ordered several dishes to split, and had mostly positive results. Here’s the rundown:

The Food at Cibo

On to the food… Here is the food I had and what I thought of it.

Salads

We ordered a house salad and a pear salad. The house salad was just okay, with a sprinkling of pine nuts and uninspired vinaigrette. The pear salad was fantastic, if a little sweet – pecorino and arugula struggled to balance out the pears and honey that dominated. Sweet or not, all four of us were fans.

Pasta and antipasti

Arancini, a fried rice dish, was under seasoned but crispy. The fried calamari was as good as any I’ve ever had, and the Antipasto Speciale has a little something for everyone (even our one olive-hating friend just picked around the offending olives and was otherwise pleased).

Pizza

Obviously the star of the show, and it absolutely does not disappoint. We split three pizzas and had several slices left to take home. The Margherita – perhaps the classic test of a pizza joint’s technique and style – was perfection. Salty and chewy crust with the perfect crispy finish, with a perfect balance of fresh basil and peppery tomato sauce. The Di Notte pizza was a cheese combo with a spicy salami, and it was extremely rich, but exceptional. Lastly, we tried the La Noce, topped with arugula and walnuts. A soft cooked egg would have been the perfect final topping on this one, but I’m not complaining – it was phenomenal.

There’s a reason that Cibo has developed a reputation as one of the best pizza restaurants in Phoenix. Do not pass this one up.

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