The Charleston Gazette, Maureen F. Crockett
April 14, 1999
"Word of mouth has spread over central West Virginia, so Cafe Cimino doesn't have to advertise. Located in a historic building across from Sutton's court house on Main and Fourth Streets, this new Italian restaurant attracts knowledgeable diners from Morgantown to Charleston.
Since owners Tim and Melody Urbanic insist on the best, freshest ingredients, they grow them on their farm; they buy them during weekly jaunts to Pittsburgh's strip; or they buy and barter with local growers.
I could make a happy meal here on appetizers alone. There are stuffed mushrooms for $4; bruschetta with bright red and green toppings of tomatoes and fresh basil for $3; and grilled portabellos with balsamic vinegar for $4. The fresh baked focaccia, also $4, comes with sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, rosemary, and garlic, and it's brushed several times with extra virgin olive oil. Or you can get roasted red peppers with goat cheese for the same price as well as baked asiago cheese for $5.
A starter plate included oil-cured black olives, carrots, celery, and prosciutto-wrapped figs. Along with the basket of constantly replenished bread, Tim serves European style Plugra butter, creamy and unsalted and with 85% butterfat. (He believes this butter best suits his flavorful cuisine.) My husband Bill and I succumbed to the temptation to fill up on it. Local residents know Tim bakes bread every day, so they drop by to get some.
He also makes his own sun-dried tomatoes, which he serves plain in a dish, to be munched on and eaten like potato chips. The flavor is intense.
There are different appetizer specials every day, and I was fortunate to be there when Tim made polenta and sweet sausages, ($4.50), presented beautifully with the visual aesthetic of Japanese food. Sauce and cheese add variety to this dish.
Bill ordered Italian wedding soup, which features a rich stock and generous portions of tiny herbed meatballs. A cup is $2.50, a bowl $3.50. I had creamy mushroom soup, (accent the cream) made with wine and butter, the best I ever tasted, and we shared spoonfuls. Bill said the wedding soup alone was worth the trip from St. Albans.
Mixed green salads with Tim's own dressings come with all entrees. His blue cheese dressing I can eat with a soup spoon; it's creamy, very blue in flavor, but not a hint of bitter or harsh notes in the after taste which some blue dressings acquire.
Bill asked for his favorite Italian meal, linguine with clam sauce. The sauce is made with shallots lightly sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, clam juice, a cream sauce with a mushroom base and fresh cream with reduced Chardonnay. Reduced wines are part of many dishes here, and since such wine has natural salts, Tim uses less salt in his cooking. Also his parmesan reggiano which fortunately permeates many dishes, is salty. This is the world's best parmesan, which the cafe imports from Parma for $9 a pound wholesale.
I had chicken Alfredo, Each order of Alfredo sauce is prepared individually for that particular dish. We enjoyed a smooth Chianti with our meal.
All entrees arrive with fresh focaccia, salad, and a side dish of linguine, vegetables, risotto, risotto fritters, the most flavorful polenta this side of the Po - or whatever Tim's whims lead him to create that day.
Cafe Cimino -- christened, by the way, after Tim Urbanic's Italian grandparent's family name -- also operates as dinner theater. The Landmark Theater is across from the restaurant, so on play nights, diners walk out the side door right into the old church for a performance. After the play, diners return for dessert and coffee.
Of course, we had no room for dessert... which we ordered anyway. We chose zabaglione, a crepe with ice cream inside, covered with a sauce of marsala, cabernet sauvignon, and cream. We licked up the very last morsel.
This fine restaurant is for people who enjoy spending time over a fine meal, and who are not overly alarmed by the presence of butter and cream."
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