Pastas and pizzas and charcuterie, oh my!

In Mid-October, Hamiltonians were rewarded in their patience as CIMA Enoteca opened their doors on Locke for the first time – serving up in-house made pasta, wood-fired Neapolitan Pizza, appetizers, shareable dishes with an Italian flair, and thirst-quenching cocktails. On top of all their regular items, CIMA also boasts an extensive wine and beer menu, customizable party charcuterie boards, and rotating daily features.

Executive Chef and co-owner Jordan Mitchell didn’t expect to open up CIMA Enoteca on Locke Street; he loved the old Cheese Shoppe on Locke as much as the next guy, but when the space at the corner of Melbourne and Locke opened up, Jordan and the partners (Dominic Albanese and Michael Fortino) jumped on the opportunity; as did about forty other people, but their certainty and confidence in this space made for a quick decision that won them the spot with spectacular street presence.

Photo by Heather Peter

The space has undergone massive changes from where they once were with the Cheese Shoppe. Rolling doors looking out onto both Locke and Melbourne were added, an open kitchen with a wood-fire stove, and many eye-catching decorative features were added in (like their gorgeous sparkling bar and Sophia Loren mural) to make the space into the beautiful dining spot we see today. But the atmosphere of the space is only a small aspect of what makes them so worthy of the positive chatter that surrounds them, what keeps people coming back is the food!

Mitchell had gained fame in the Hamilton culinary world, serving up Italian favourites at Romano’s on the east mountain for several years. Since becoming the chef at Romano’s, he has also become a co-owner in the mountain favourite, expanding his knowledge as a restauranteur and preparing himself for the new joint that is ‘CIMA’.
With Neapolitan pizza, comes many rules about how to properly make it. The rules are strict and enforced by a committee in Napoli itself (The True Neapolitan Pizza Association). Rules such as: the consistency must be soft, elastic, and easy to fold, with the centre being soft to the touch, the mozzarella should appear in evenly spread patches with the green basil leaves slightly darkened by the cooking process, plus many more.

Mitchell studied the rules in-depth, put them into practice, and got them down to a science, complete with bringing in a Stefano Ferrara authentic Neapolitan pizza oven (which Mitchell states, took a lot of back and forth with strictly-Italian speakers, straight from Naples). With all this training under his belt, Mitchell is ready to share his culinary expertise downtown in the Kirkendall neighbourhood. Hungry patrons can enjoy dishes like Gnocchi al Tartufo (truffle gnocchi) and slurp up meals like Linguine Vongole (squid ink linguine with clams), and Short-Rib Pappardelle.

All photos by Heather Peter

All of their pastas are made in-house, which can be rare to find in Hamilton right now. Mitchell likens the pasta making process to “similar to play-doh”, making the pasta dough and squeezing it through a tube – the end result is anything but. Their exquisite pastas are cooked to perfection, the quality is clear. Plus the handmade pastas are balanced with some mouth-watering, paired ingredients like house-made fennel sausage, shaved fresh black truffle, and cherry tomatoes cooked until they burst.
Parties can enjoy charcuterie boards to share, customizing their food experience with options like bresaola cured meat, speck cured meat, pickled endive, and an extensive offering of cheeses.

For those looking for lighter fare, they have creative salads that anyone would be pleased to call their meal, such as Pear and Gorgonzola, and Heirloom Beet with whipped goat cheese and pistachio.

On your first visit, make sure to try their Strozza Fritti as an appetizer (Fried cheese filled white truffle balls), this dish will break more hearts than a 90s heartthrob.
Heads up, you may have some trouble pronouncing the menu names if you aren’t straight from Italy, but that’s all part of the experience!
Visit them at 190 Locke St. S., Hamilton, ON L8P 4B4