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  • Writer's pictureBe Vancouver Staff Writer

EatVancouver | Featuring CIBO Trattoria

Missing Italian food? Well, Cibo Trattoria is as close to Italy as you can be in Vancouver.

Newly appointed Executive Chef, and former contestant on Top Chef Canada, Jesse Zuber, has brought new life and direction to the plate, while sticking to authentic, rustic Italian dishes to serve in the heart of Downtown Vancouver.

Photos by BeVancouver | Reuben Dongalen Jr.

You may have heard of Jesse Zuber, and rightly so.

His biggest motivation is to bring the conversation back to the table about the food, where it belongs.

Photos by BeVancouver | Reuben Dongalen Jr.

"Make dinner about dinner, make dinner the centre point of the evening instead of a stopping point on your way to something else," said Zuber. "People seem to have lost a little bit of touch with the dining experience and what it means to come together as friends... bring their attention back to the meal and back to the people that they're dining with."

How he intends to do that, is with his take on authentic Italian cuisine at Cibo, focused on few but premium ingredients sourced both locally and in Italy, and plates to share for an all-in-one experience.

"To my mind, an authentic Italian experience isn't necessarily about the dishes themselves, so much as the the style of dining, and, more than anything, conversation," he said. "There is a real sense of conviviality and togetherness in an Italian dining experience, and that's something I really hope to bring to (Cibo). More and more, we're pushing a little bit of a shared, tasting kind of style, and really just creating more of a conversational dish..."

Zuber emphasized that Cibo Trattoria's dishes are built out of that same rustic, Italian simplicity, cooking with as few ingredients as possible, with each ingredient pristine in its own right.

Chef Zuber prepared three dishes for us: the Burrata, the Maltagliati All’Amatriciana, and the Ippoglosso.

Photos by BeVancouver | Reuben Dongalen Jr.

The Burrata is a great, refreshing way to open your dining experience; Chef Zuber prepared that buttery, rich, luxury cheese with a creamy inside that melts both in your mouth, and on the plate. Dip it with a crostini, scoop up the pickled veggies, the pesto... it's a delicious, flavour-blasting way of opening up those taste buds.

Photos by BeVancouver | Reuben Dongalen Jr.

Following the Burrata, is the Maltagliati All’Amatriciana, and Chef Zuber labelled it as "tomato bacon sauce on crack."

That's a helluva way to describe this flavourful, meaty, and hearty pasta dish.

The sauce is a smoked pork jowl that's sliced, rendered off, and loaded with onions, some San Marzano tomatoes, mixing in what Chef Zuber calls a perfect harmony of acidity, sweetness, and smokiness.

"It's just, literally, a zig zag of chaos," he said.

Pretty darn yummy zig zag of chaos if you ask us.

Photos by BeVancouver | Reuben Dongalen Jr.

Finally, he prepared the Ippoglosso, which is a pan-roasted halibut that's locally sourced, cauliflower done "a million ways," and a roasted lemon. Fresh, simple ingredients, but absolutely delicious.

While the food is the number one, Chef Zuber knows that it's about the experience, and shares a few tips with fellow Vancouverites on choosing a restaurant.

Photos by BeVancouver | Reuben Dongalen Jr.

"Find a place where you walk in the door where you can feel the passion from every member of the team... from our hostess, to our management, to our sommeliers, to every cook in the kitchen, even the dishwasher," he said. "... That's something that we're really bringing to the table here."

"Everyone is super engaged in what we're doing here, and I think you can feel that both in the energy of the room, on the plate, in the cocktails... we've got such a great space here too. It's a lovely place to come hangout, feel at ease, and just let us take care of you. I think this is about as close as you can possibly get to fully authentic Italian cuisine in Vancouver."


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