Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen in Korea. It seems like everywhere I turn, there’s a new “authentic” Italian pizza or pasta place opening up. Needless to say I’ve been disappointed one too many times and am hardly ever in the mood for Italian these days. However, for a while now my boyfriend has been raving about this amazing new Sicilian restaurant. We’d been meaning to go there together, but our schedules have been so hectic lately. Luckily, with the arrival of White Day, we were finally able to set some time aside for a much needed lovely dinner for two.
Ciuri Ciuri is an intimately sized restaurant located near 상수역 (Sangsu Station). Upon entering, you are immediately drawn in by the bold cobalt color of the walls, which are complimented nicely by the teal chairs and wood tables. The walls are lightly decorated with nets and nautical themed hand painted ceramics, while a single brightly colored hand painted tile is displayed in the center of every table. All these items were flown in from Sicily and really help complete the subtle island ambiance of the restaurant.
We started off our meal with the Arancine, which translates to “little oranges,” a name attributed to their round shape and orangish color. Despite the name, Arancine are actually deep fried saffron-risotto balls stuffed with various fillings. Ciuri Ciuri currently serves 5 different types, all derived from their own family’s recipes. If you’ve never had one before, then I would suggest the Ragu, which is a meat and tomato sauce filling and is the most commonly served type in Sicilian cafes. It’s the first one I tried and it’s fantastic! However, I would have to say that my favorite one (so far) is the Spinaci, which is stuffed with spinach, mozzarella and béchamel sauce. The spinach is soft, the mozzarella gooey and the overall flavor is a perfect blend of herbs and spices. One could easily fill you, so I recommend splitting one with someone to leave room for further deliciousness.
Gnocchi is my absolute favorite Italian dish, so I knew I had to try it here. There were two options, one with a red sauce and the other with white, but I eventually opted for the Gnocchi al Gorgonzola. The gnocchi came served, but not drenched, in a thick flavorful gorgonzola and cream parmigiano sauce. The gnocchi itself was soft, but ever so slightly chewy. They were also made with the addition of spinach, giving them an interesting green color that really popped through the white sauce. Finally, the dish was topped off with a bit of peppercorn and pecorino, which really gave it a sharp and distinct after taste. I couldn’t get enough of it and the best part was that it came in a very generous serving, as opposed to the 10 pieces that most other restaurants serve.
For our third dish, we got the Ravioli Burro e Salvia. This came with about 6 large pieces of ricotta and truffle stuffed ravioli served in an extra virgin olive oil, butter, sage and truffle sauce. It had been a very long time since we had eaten ravioli and an even longer time since we had eaten ravioli that wasn’t prepared by Chef Boyardee. So, this was quite a rare treat. The ravioli was tender and perfectly cooked. The oily sauce complimented the flavor of the ricotta and truffle stuffing very nicely. All the flavors were perfectly balanced and didn’t seem to overpower each other. Absolutely mouthwatering!
Finally, with very little room left in our bellies, we ordered Cannoli for dessert. The dish comes with two pastry shells stuffed with a delicious ricotta and chocolate chip filling and garnished with pieces of candied orange. The shell is firm, yet still flakey and the filling is light and sweet with a nice citrus tang. The dish also comes with two delicious side pieces of chocolate-dipped candied oranges. A perfect ending to a most perfect meal.
Needless to say, I’m head over heels for this place. The food is incredibly flavorful, comes in generous portions and is very reasonably priced. The owners and chefs, Enrico and Fiore Olivieri, are very hospitable and make their rounds greeting their guests at every table. They are very passionate about what they do and it is really reflected in their food. Honestly there isn’t anything I didn’t love about Ciuri Ciuri. In fact, I can’t wait to go back and try all the other items on their menu. I’m sure I will not leave disappointed.