Cibo Bistro
By Athena Raypold

Food is Synonymous with Family

Rosario Caputo, chef and owner of Cibo Bistro, grew up “always around the kitchen but never cooking,” he says. But he was inspired by food, by the community and camaraderie that food inevitably excites, so one day, after acquiring a Business Administration diploma from NAIT, he decided to enter the Culinary Arts Program and “fell in love with everything," he says. “ I just got extremely passionate about the industry and the food and the ingredients.”

Sourcing ingredients for Cibo Bistro locally (whenever possible) from suppliers like Mona Foods, Gull Valley Greenhouse, Four Whistle Farms and Acme Meat Market, Rosario also receives fresh, organic vegetables from his family’s garden in Jasper. “My grandmother and grandfather had this immaculate garden that they tended to,” he says. “Every spring, they would plant the garden, and every summer it would be the greenest garden in town.” When his grandparents passed away, his father carried on the family tradition, supplying Rosario with zucchini, green and yellow beans, carrots, peas and sometimes tomatoes. Each spring, his father asks him what to plant and then continually sends produce throughout the summer.

We’re very food focused, everything revolves around the food. We designed the restaurant so the food always comes first. - Rosario Caputo, chef and owner
Cibo Bistro has a knowledgable sommelier, who chooses the wines to pair with the seasonal cuisine
Photo by Athena Raypold
Cibo Bistro's sommelier, who is married to the owner, also runs the front of house
Photo by Athena Raypold

A Food and Wine Focused Bistro

Rosario previously worked at Jack’s Grill with chef and owner, Peter Jackson, and always admired how he ran the restaurant from a kitchen perspective. “Cibo means food; it’s the Italian word for food and we’re a food bistro. We’re very food focused, everything revolves around the food. We designed the restaurant so the food always comes first,” says Rosario, explaining that they intentionally do not have a heat lamp to prioritize freshness.

The focus on freshness and quality stems from Rosario’s deep respect for food. “If you’re going to overcook a steak, well, that steak doesn’t deserve to go onto the plate," he says. “Because, if a farmer’s going to take the time to grow the product, we need to take an equally important emphasis on watching how we prepare and execute the dish.”

Rosario’s wife, Lisa, is a sommelier and she runs the restaurant’s front of house. “She is super knowledgeable,” Rosario says. “She knows more than I could ever comprehend about wine … she puts me in my place a lot of times. I’m a taste it kind of guy. I’ll taste it and I’ll say, ‘This will pair well with this,’ and she’ll either yay or nay it.” Together, Rosario and Lisa create a wine menu that complements their seasonal food menus and then they educate all of the staff. “We encourage everybody to learn about what we’re bringing in. If it’s ramp season and the [staff] haven’t seen ramps, we teach them about ramps and fiddleheads,” says Rosario.

Changing their food menu four times a year and their pastas every couple of months, Rosario keeps his staff, from chefs to servers, on their toes, always learning new dishes and never getting bored. Cibo Bistro also makes all of their pastas, cured meats and sausages in-house, as well some of the simpler cheeses.

Cibo Bistro sources as much stuff as they can locally, including vegetables and meat
Photo by Athena Raypold
Cibo Bistro changes their menu four times a year, with an emphasis on lighter dishes in summer and heavier, meatier dishes in winter
Photo by Athena Raypold

An Inclusive Experience

While Rosario is very shy, he welcomes everyone into his restaurant. “I want them to feel like they are not going out to eat; I want them to feel like they are coming into my house,” he says. “I want them to feel extremely comfortable.”

Cibo Bistro doesn’t have a dress code, and Rosario wants “every guest to have the exact same experience whether [they’re] in a tuxedo or shorts.” And, that experience is an Italian one that pulls inspiration from all over Italy. In the summer, dishes reflect those of southern Italy – lighter fare that makes use of beans, eggs and seafood. In the fall and winter, the menu moves north, adding thicker pasta sauces, braised items and more meat based dishes. While Rosario admits that you can’t please everyone, he continually strives to provide “the best service, the best experience [and] the best food.”

Cibo Bistro is an intimate, elegant restaurant but it's not stuffy or overly formal - there's no dress code
Photo by Athena Raypold
Cibo Bistro is located downtown in Oliver Square
Photo by Athena Raypold
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