I’ve been waiting for the opening of CIMA since the owners’ of Romano’s mentioned it. Once the Cheese Shoppe on Locke closed down, they jumped at the opportunity. I was ecstatic that the restaurant was going to be Italian because it’s one of my favourites! My love will never die for Romano’s, but damn, when you see the decor and taste the food, you’d make the trip down to Locke Street too.
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13 influencers gathered for a media tasting during CIMA’s soft opening. I was so excited, I couldn’t focus on work and just watched the clock. Sitting at the corner of Locke and Melbourne, you’ll find a grey-stoned exterior with black fixtures and frames. A modern neon triangle sign hangs above the entrance over a beautiful black and white tiled floor with the word ‘CIAO’ leading to the front door. Instagram-worthy. Inside, everything is Instagram-worthy as well.
It’s classic yet modern with marble, wood, and iron accents scattered among black and white interiors. Warm Edison bulbs hang above the dining area while the open kitchen is brightly lit with white light.
Their iconic wood-burning oven sits in plain view for everyone’s entertainment. Watch Jordan, co-owner, as he meticulously creates mouth-watering pizza pies! I feel like I could go into SO much detail about the interior because it’s right up my alley, aesthetically. I want everything in CIMA to teleport into my house.
Let’s move onto the food! First off, a party charcuterie board. 6 cured meats, 5-6 cheeses with olives, hot peppers, cauliflower, pickled fennel, and honey scattered throughout. The plank of wood it came on was also impressive. Out of all the things in the world, I could eat cured meats for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and never get bored of it. There are a few things to note about their Salumi and Formaggio selection. Try everything, especially if you love cured meats as much as I do, try their truffle cheese (if it’s available), drizzle that honey on everything, and devour those peppers if you live life on the edge.
Our appetizers all came out at once and it felt like Christmas morning. The dishes just kept coming and I had no idea if they were going to stop. Greatest feeling ever! A delicately seared tuna with cannellini bean salad came first. Seared tuna always makes a great photograph. The bean salad was light and complimented well with the fish. The Calamari Fritti came in a huge pile and sat on top of a Romesco sauce surrounded by basil oil. The batter and the fry on it were both light yet still super crispy.
A dish I’ve never tired before was the Tuna Crudo – raw thinly sliced yellow-fin tuna with a shot of presseco poured on top at the table. So far, the dishes have been presented really well with excellent execution. So, it’s definitely something new and exciting!
Next, were the Heirloom Beet salad and Strozza Fritti. Colourful roasted beets tossed with seasonal greens and tasty dollops of whipped goats chese. Again light and very balanced, the dish looked like a piece of art too!
The Strozza Fritti were a big hit! Well, for me anyways. First of all, these perfectly shaped balls were perfectly deep fried to a golden brown, perfection. And even better, there was mac and cheese in the middle with truffle pasta. Yussss! Oh and even, even better, the 3 balls sat on salsa di pomodoro. This sauce is heavenly and I think they serve it at Romano’s as well. It’s just explosions of savoury, bold, and acidic flavours. It goes well with everything and anything you slap it on. I wish I could buy it in bulk. Anyways, I highly recommend this appetizer!
Onto the mains. Everyone ordered their own dish, so I’ll just feature a variety of goodies. We’ll start with my dish, Linguine Vongole. Squid ink linguine tossed in baby clams, surrounded by 3 humongous Cherrystone clams in shells. The pasta had an unexpected kick of spice which made it even tastier! I’ve always wanted to try squid ink pasta and this was my opportunity. The texture was like any other pasta with an al dente, grainy bite. And the clams seasoned the whole dish. Just pasta and clams, nice and simple. The Rigatoni Salsicia was my second choice because rigatoni is fun to eat and I love sausage in my pasta.
And onto the pizzas. Melonzana – tomato, sliced eggplant, parmigiano reggiano, oregano, garlic, and whipped ricotta. Let’s talk about the crust. Thin as fuck (my fave) and still holds well, has a bite and has a chew, tastes great, and has a crispy bottom. I’m not a crust connoisseur but I like to see those qualities in a crust. So, that oven from Italy was worth it! If you’re looking for a heavy pizza with hardy toppings, stick to Domino’s. But if you’re looking for legit pizza from the motherland of pizzas, get it at CIMA. Of course, there are others inn Hamilton who pump out awesome pizzas as well, much love to them too.
Lastly, we indulged in dessert. At this point, I was on the verge of exploding. One peep at the menu and I knew it was going to be a tough choice. But then Ally came over and majorly swayed me towards the Salted Caramel Budino. So glad that happened because it just made my night even better. Italian caramel pudding, salted caramel, and butterscotch blondie. I don’t know what a blondie is, but it tasted like a delicious caramel soft cookie. And soft cookies are MY FAVOURITE! The pudding was at an awesome consistency for someone like me who, doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth. This was it, something light, not too sweet, and just the perfect amount of creaminess and crumbliness. I could pour it down my throat all day! Others ordered gelato and tiramisus. All amazing as well!
I feel like I’m always excited when I write about a new restaurant in Hamilton. Like, of course I’m happy, this means more food for me to explore. But yall need to get excited about CIMA. It’s just next level. And I love that level. You’ll find the same healthy portions with elevated flavours, presentation, and overall experience. These guys are setting the bar super high for new restaurants in Hamilton! Now, I’m just trying to decide which day to go back for more pastas and pizzas. And this time I’ll order a pie to myself… maybe I’ll share if I’m feeling generous.
P.S. Any pics you take will slay, all thanks to the team who chose marble tables and counter tops. It’s all in the details for these guys and they nailed it, 100%!
CIMA Enoteca provided the complimentary meal, opinions expressed are my own.