Established in the cellar of a large house in Kiley Court in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which is known for its art gallery, the popular restaurant Ciro & Sal’s serves their refined take on old-school Italian food. Since its inception, it has been a place where artists have congregated while eating some classic dishes.
The atmosphere of the cellar is uniquely Italian. Straw-clad Chianti wine bottles hang from the ceiling. Pellegrino adorns each table. A fireplace in the corner warms the room. The vibe has quieted a bit since the place first opened and became a late-night spot for artistic types, it has become more sophisticated. The romantic underground evokes the feeling of a rendezvous, an aura that provides a perfect setting for their indulgent, delicious meals.
Ciro & Sal’s menu stays true to Italian cuisine and culture. Although Italian-American by nature, this is a place that demands multiple courses. As the ceiling suggests, one must begin with a Chianti from Tuscany. This sets up the palate and feeling for the meal. Decisions are always easier to make after a glass, or two, of some great wines.
The selection of both food and wine is wide and varied, but narrowing it down by course makes it a bit easier. For antipasti the mozzarella di capriccio is alluring, but the ostriche alla Giannini is irresistible. Wellfleet oysters in half-shells baked with bread crumbs, parmigiana, and pesto, the meal has begun with umami and richness. There is nothing subtle about it, and that’s what I love about Italian cooking.
As one must with multi-course Italian meals, I hope you are not dining alone and brought your appetite. Next up is the salad course. I recommend going for the insalata di casa, served with their famous house dressing, a wine vinaigrette that they say simply cannot be duplicated. Your palate refreshed, perhaps you are ready for another bottle of wine. Choose wisely, pasta is on its way.
Depending on your choice of pasta and meat or fish course, the wine should pair. For what I want, white wine is a must. Whenever I see carbonara on a menu outside of Italy, I just have to have it. Pasta, usually spaghetti intermingling with bacon and egg, are sautéed with cream and parmigiana, the dish is a must try if you haven’t had it before.
Now it’s time for the main course. Using wine pairing as a guide, it is only right to have some delicious seafood. It may be a pasta overload, but the scampi alla griglia is a must-have. Shrimp cooked in shallots and green onions with a generous helping of butter and garlic served over pasta, which is a perfect delivery vehicle for the intense flavor.
Concluding the meal, it is only right to do it the Italian way, with an espresso and a cannoli or tiramisu. But if you are like many who have experienced a decadent meal at Ciro & Sal’s, you will simply be too full for desert. The espresso will do just fine, the bitterness a reminder that life can’t always be this rich.