Monday, December 7, 2009

Ciro's: Great Italian you have to WAIT for...

From the pure darkness of rural Lancaster, we suddenly emerged into a well-lit, newly developed cove that was clean, beautiful, and rather Truman Show-like. On the corner of that tidy block of suburbia sits Ciro’s Italian Bistro, attracting nightly patrons like moths to the only flame within miles.
It’s an attractive bistro with an open kitchen and modern chic curves, giving it a cosmopolitan feel. When we arrived, it was a full house, with everyone having a full sit-down meal, even while sitting at the bar. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you sit; it all shares the same pleasant ambiance, and the same good food.
When Ciro’s first opened in May, Ciro’s elderly matron made all the pasta by her own hand. Now she only makes the noodles for their Lasagna di La Casa. So naturally, we had to try it ($14). In addition, we ordered our server’s favorite – the Pollo Piccata ($16), and to start, a bowl of the Tomato-Basil Bisque ($4) and a Caesar Salad, anchovies on top, please ($8).
As we awaited the highly anticipated victuals, the bread basket arrived. It was, perhaps, the first time I was actually concerned about “the recycle.” There were scrappy pieces of bread, some of them smashed. Yikes. I picked out a slice that seemed untouched, dipped it lightly into the olive oil and pepper, and thought, wow, not bad for a slice of bread that might have been manhandled. Crusty edges gave way to a soft, chewy center with rosemary leaves baked in. The hubby didn’t care, so he polished off the basket, and I’m glad to say, the next basket that came along looked as it should. Untouched.
The Bisque came in a large, shallow bowl. The presentation was quite plain, and I thought a sprinkle of a bright green herb around the lip of the bowl would have added a swanky touch. Never mind, though - the flavor of garlic and basil provided a subtle subtext to the tomato that struck a pleasing balance of tart and sweet. It was quite nice.
The Caesar salad was solid - fresh, crisp, and lightly dressed in more of a vinaigrette than a traditional creamy dressing. Large shavings of Parmesan cheese and the few fillets of anchovies accompanied it nicely.
Fortunately, Ciro’s was generous with the portions, because that night, they seemed to have an issue getting the entrees out in a timely fashion. The server gave regular updates, but I still laughed when I overheard someone at a nearby table say, “Man, I gotta go out and kill the cow…” But patience is a virtue, and when the food finally came around, it was worth waiting for.
Ciro’s cuisine is subtle, delicious, and seemingly simple. The flavors are anything but, yet because they’re impressively balanced, it seems so. Whether you’re eating a huge square of Lasagna, filled with ground beef, ricotta cheese, and its straightforward tomato sauce, or even more remarkably, the Chicken Piccata, with its strong individual flavors of lemon and capers, you get all the essence of the individual ingredients and the beauty of their complementary synergy, without being overwhelmed, and I enjoyed each and every bite of the Chicken Piccata immensely. The Lasagna was my husband’s favorite, and it was one of the few times neither of us suffered from order envy.
Last note, be sure to get a taste of their sausage ($3 as a side). Each slice seemed to have been lovingly pan-fried so that it was crunchy and delightful, just as everything else was.
Ciro’s Italian Bistro
605 Richmond Square, Lancaster


Keith said...

Completely agree that Richmond Square has quite a Seahaven Island feel. I'm happy to report that the service seems to have improved since your visit, although our waiter was a bit too familiar. The food, however, was very good indeed. The best thing on the table was my daughter's Pizza Margherita...superb!! Our party also ordered the Chicken Marsala, Veal Marsala, and Chicken Parmagiana (all very nice) and a Tuscan Salad (unique and tasty). Finally, we tried 4 flavors of gelato (strawberry, Bananas Foster, pistachio, and wildberry)...good but not great. We'll go back soon for some sausage!!

Lina Bierker said...

Well THAT is good to hear! Hopefully you didn't get any of the manhandled bread, either. :-)

Yes, it's time to visit Ciro's again. I have been yenning after the Chicken Piccata for a while. But I think I'll give the Pizza Margherita a try, based on your experience.