Fort Myers Best Kept Fine Dining Secret
Discerning Locals Flock to an Incredible, Upscale Taste of Italy in Fort Myers
Writer / Tim Houghten
As the eyes adjust from the Florida sunshine to the refined lighting that diners will be accustomed to in the most upscale restaurants, CIBO (pronounced ch-ee-b-o) comes to life. Bubbling with relaxed chatter, the pouring of handcrafted chocolate martinis, and adept wait staff effortlessly serving the final touches to artistically presented meals, you’ll find yourself transported to a stylishly modern food haven, anchored by tradition.
A full menu is available from dinning in large oversized booths, to family style tables and high tops in the bar area.
As an appetizer, the beef carpaccio is truly too magnificent to describe. Possibly the best to ever touch your taste buds. Perfectly presented with shaved Grana Padana, white truffle essence, lemon and fried capers, the tenderloin will simply melt in your mouth. All beautifully paired with a 2013 Paydirt Zinfandel, Paso Robles.
Although famous for its pasta and with a menu rich in seafood, a steak is always a great test of a chef and a cucina’s skill and execution. On our visit the filet was prepared to perfection, medium rare, well-fired on the outside, superbly tender, on a port wine demi.
Fine Italian Tradition Becomes an Extension of Your Country Club
Catching up with CIBO owner, Craig Komatz, over a double espresso after dinner, he spilled the story on what has made this enclave such a success.
Gazing out to the glorious blue skies and setting sun over Southwest Florida from the patio, Craig stole a moment to tell us how he migrated to the area and how he has been able to live out his dream through providing a superior dining experience for discerning Fort Myers residents. On the nights he is in the restaurant you’ll find him greeting guests as old friends, chatting life with returning customers and subtly ensuring everything is orchestrated with the deft skill of a philharmonic orchestra.
It’s a true American success story. After graduating in Michigan and managing country clubs as an executive in the Northeast, Craig Komatz took a gamble on his dream. The economy was in shambles at the time, and it was all or nothing in moving to Florida and owning his own restaurant. He says, “You never know unless you try. And if you don’t, you’ll have to live with that ‘what if’ for the rest of your life.” It has worked out beautifully.
The restaurant is bustling every night, in and out of season. Diners seeking a more upscale experience and high quality cuisine make CIBO a regular event. Others come in to meet up with old friends over a cocktail and appetizer at the bar. And it is a popular stop on the way out to catch a show.
Craig says the ultimate success was in his Italian grandmother being able to witness and experience the restaurant and being able to give her back a taste of all those memorable family meals growing up. Today, Craig’s mother still puts on an apron to hand craft authentic gnocchi and ravioli in the traditional way behind the scenes.
Family, Friends & Food
Craig credits much of the restaurant’s success to its amazing staff. CIBO boasts a team which has worked together to perfect and constantly enhance a harmonious dining experience for more than 10 years. It is almost unheard of for chefs, managers and serving staff to enjoy that type of longevity in this business. Yet, they have become a family who have mastered meshing together the front and back of the house for a seamless and supreme experience. The owner describes them all as “leaders, who thrive and flourish when I let them do what they love and what they are great at.” For those eating here, it means a consistent experience of the highest quality food, with old favorites like the “best meatballs in SW Florida” and must-try specials including the filet and shrimp surf and turf.
Wear a suit, dinner dress or shorts and you’ll feel just as at home at CIBO. Be sure to call ahead to reserve a table at this very popular dinner-only home of Italian delicacies.