PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
It's always commendable to see a suburban restaurant shuffle a little outside the comfort zone. Take Cibo e Vino, for example. Instead of dishing up a safe, unchanging menu, Cibo hammers home the freshest-is-best philosophy by creating a seasonal menu and tweaking it daily. It's understandable when you discover chef Paul Toogood honed his skills for a time at The River Cafe – impressive credentials in anyone's book. Like the lofty London establishment, Cibo focuses on clean, unpretentious Italian flavours – bold, simple tastes designed to transport you to sun-kissed tomato vineyards and olive tree studded fields.
The room itself is pleasantly unfussy, melding minimalist clean lines with rustic colours. It's small but not quite cramped with affable service adding to the intimacy of the space. Entrees might include a smoked eel salad, or be as simple as asparagus with gorgonzola dolce and black pepper. The handmade gnocchi is held in high esteem, and mains run from char-grilled duck with beetroot, silverbeet, cherries and verjus, to kingfish with marinated zucchini, herbs and olives. Dessert-wise, the orange and nougat ice cream is a permanent fixture of the menu for good reason. It's truly refreshing to see a fiercely food-focused establishment in the Hills. Unfortunately it's somewhat hidden on a traffic-heavy corner of Old Northern Road. Hopefully, the food alone will be enough to see them through.