Going the distance
Roseville, CA 95661
Good for: excellent food for a special occasion
Notable dishes: Breakfast for Dessert, winter citrus salad, sage gnocchi
I think we can admit that the average Sacramentan likely doesn’t think of Roseville as a culinary destination. However recently, and admittedly with a reserve of trepidation, I ventured to The Outlands on the recommendation of a few eaters I implicitly trust.
Cibo 7’s space itself is suburban chic and appealing in its own way, but the room is noisy, so prepare to yell.
Chef Christopher Barnum heads up the kitchen—an International Culinary Institute graduate who worked a number of kitchens before coming to Cibo 7. He’s turned the kitchen into a force to be reckoned with.
Our meal began with lamb and wagyu meatballs nuzzled in a cushion of fennel yogurt cream and dressed with parsley oil. Terribly addicting. Upon inquiring on what the curious flavor in the meatballs was, we were surprised we didn’t make the connection ourselves. “It’s a mix of sweet and hot paprika,” the waiter said.
Crispy sheets of flatbread toasted in the wood-burning oven arrived topped with a husky housemade chorizo, pickled red onions and a hauntingly floral saffron crema. The table went silent as we all bit in.
The winter citrus salad’s contemporary structure of supremed citrus was so beautiful it should be installed as artwork at the new downtown arena. It topped a pungent arugula pesto scaffolded by Grana Padano crisps and shards of dried pancetta—a bold and unexpected pairing.
For the main course, an astonishing duck breast was exquisitely seared with a crosshatched and crispy skin. It was served with a polenta perfectly clutching a once-thought impossible amount of cream and butter.
I was gobsmacked by the branzino—incredibly fresh, cracker-like skin, and served with an all-too-appropriate foam of Meyer lemon (proof that foam can be practical). A musky sunchoke risotto was tucked beneath, along with Brussels sprouts braised with bacon.
A dish of gnocchi served as our litmus test—after all, quality gnocchi is difficult to fashion. These were light, poofy and suffused with the flavor of sage. Tossed with a shredding of coq au vin, bacon confit and oyster mushrooms, this dish is the tail end of winter neatly composed in a skillet.
Barnum is also the pastry chef and he excels in the sweet as much as the savory. What’s more is that desserts are thoughtful rather than simply an afterthought—something many restaurants fail to see the difference in.
Take his Breakfast for Dessert plate—sweet and cinnamon-laced cornbread pan purdue topped with buttermilk ice cream in a cast-iron skillet. Whimsical, playful, astonishing. It’s reason enough to go back again.
The grilled pineapple sorbretto was the refreshing coda to our meal that we all craved. It’s matched with a coconut shortbread cookie and lemon verbena whipped cream. A whimsical cilantro sugar any pastry fiend would happily snort off a mirror finished it all.
The bar seems to be in a state of self-discovery. It’s well stocked, but the bartenders failed at making a Manhattan and had to inquire as to what a sidecar is. (“Is it whiskey in a shot glass with lemon?”) Yet, we observed the staff learning more about the eclectic wine list, which is commendable.
On a personal note that I won’t factor in to the rating, it seems a shame there’s no cocktail menu taking advantage of the restaurant’s clear talent and exceptional ingredients.
Bar mishaps are what make this review just shy of five stars; it’s a negative mark I give with reticence, as the meal itself was so spectacular. Cibo 7 is a culinary destination that any true appreciator of fine food must experience. Like Carpe Vino and Ella, it’s evidence that the region is truly defining fine dining for itself, and that Barnum is one to watch.