3525 SE Division 97202

503.719.5377

cibopdx.com

$4 – $19

M-F: 5 pm – close

Sat: 5 pm – close

Closed Sundays

Happy Hour 5 – 6:30 pm, 10 pm – close

There’s so much to like about Italian food: the sensory collage of warm mozzarella and fresh basil on a thin, wood-fired crust; a pitch-perfect red sauce simmered with braised meat and served with house-made pasta noodles; tender grilled calamari over oven-roasted cannelini beans.

Cibo (chee-bo), a recent addition to Division Street’s burgeoning restaurant scene, has all that and a distinctive industrial-meets-rustic decor that is at once sophisticated, casual, and inviting.

Roman-born Cibo chef-restaurateur Marco Fratarolli spent six months transforming the 2000-square-foot space with his uniquely personal, modernist mash-up of stainless steel, salvaged barn wood, and black-and-white photos of Italy which he shot himself during the 1960s.

A spacious 30-seat bar area surrounds the wide-open kitchen and offers a ringside seat to the busy gas-and-wood-fueled Ligurian oven used to fire hand-tossed pizza and cecina.

Actually, every seat in the house is a winner from the comfy red leather banquettes to the front window tables and chairs and one-of-a-kind bar stools crafted from the ribs of wine barrels.

Fratarolli has been sharing his knowledge and love of Italian food with Portland since he opened Bastas Trattoria on NW 21st Avenue in 1992. He has a knack for attracting lively, dedicated staff members that are natural, interested, and enjoy working with restaurant patrons.

For his “second act”, on the eastside, Fratorolli has created a small eclectic menu with enough variety to encourage experimentation.

You’ll find a selection of meat and vegetarian pizzas as well as cecina (cha-cheena). Cecina has been described as a pancake that wanted to be a pizza. It’s a very thin, gluten-free focaccia bread made out of chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, water and olive oil. Fratarolli serves it with a choice of different toppings including garlic-infused eggplant, Genovese pesto, and sausage and taleggio.

Other regional dishes on the menu include an exceptional bolognese (Malfatti al ragu) and specials ranging from polenta lasagne, bacon-wrapped quail, and pan-seared trout encrusted with sage and prosciutto. Everything goes nicely with the European wine list, notably the 2008 Spanish Rioja.

Fratarolli plans to open for lunch and weekend brunch. He’s looking forward to offering prixe-fixe wine dinners in collaboration with his newest neighbor, Tom and Kate Morris of Southeast Wine Collective on 35th Place.

“I enjoy people,” Fratarolli says. “A restaurant is very social. I enjoy people enjoying themselves.”