Ciro's Cote Sud
WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
The intention of the owners was to create a charming, rustic, and very French bistro, full of the aromas, herbs, olive oil, and seafood of Provence. But they were never able to persuade their customers to stop ordering the pizzas that were baked here for decades. So they kept making them--while going right ahead with the true-to-origins French fare, too, with adeptness.
The pizza is in the New York style, with thin crusts with a thinner crisp layer at the bottom. The sauce is lusty in its use of garlic and herbs, and the cheese and toppings are first-class--some of the best pizza in town. But the other cooking is right up there with the work of other French bistros in town. The mussels, steak with fresh-cut fries, fish dishes, and particularly the daily specials are marvelous.
Ciro’s made excellent old-style, thin-crust pizzas on Maple Street for decades, in a minimal space that suited the college clientele just fine. (I was one of them, in the late 1960s.) In 1997, Chef Ollivier Guiot and his wife Sophie--natives of the South of France--renovated Ciro's with the idea of opening a Provençal bistro. The new name Cote Sud ("south coast") captured it perfectly.
A much-remodeled former cottage became a long, narrow room extending from big windows in front to a bar and the kitchen in the rear. It's pleasant but not fancy. The clientele now spans the entire range from the college crowd to the older residents of the neighborhood. The staff is young and speaks French nicely. The chef is in and out of the dining room, chatting up the regulars.
The dish names are in French on the menu. I've translated all but the obvious ones.
Starters »Escargots de Bourgogne
Oysters baked in a blue cheese butter sauce
Charcuterie and cheese plates
»Onion soup gratinee
Soup du jour
Salads Green salad with avocado
Salade maison (greens, olives, mozzarella)
Salad with pears
»Salad topped with warm goat cheese
»Salad with frog legs
Salad with duck confit
Caprese salad (tomatoes and fresh milk mozzarella)
Entrees »»Mussels mariniere, or with curry or blue cheese sauce
Salmon with creamed spinach
Fish of the day
»Cornish hen wrapped with bacon
Magret of duck (breast) with peaches
Petite filet mignon with blue cheese
»Hanger steak with fries
»Lamb chops with herbes de Provence
»Pork tenderloin encrusted with mustard
Pasta with seafood
Shrimp and zucchini, garlic, olive oil, fettuccine
»Fettuccine with chicken and mushroom cream sauce
»»Pizzas to order
Desserts »Tarte Tatin a la mode
»Pear Belle Helene
Profiteroles au chocolat
Layered chocolate mousse cake
FOR BEST RESULTS
Have the pizza as an appetizer for the table the first time, but don't consider it an essential order for every visit. Too many other first courses and entrees vie for your attention. The daily specials are usually the best dishes every night.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The cash-or-check payment policy is an absurd inconvenience for customers, and causes one to order less food and wine than one otherwise might. (How much cash is in your pocket right now?)
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Consistency +2
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +2
- Sidewalk tables
- Open Sunday dinner
- Open Monday dinner
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations accepted