THE LATEST SCOOP
Keeping you informed of local food and drink news.
WRITTEN BY MICHAEL TRAGASH
ILLUSTRATION BY GREG BRADY
Month after month there’s more news to share than we can possibly fit in this column. Our local food community is constantly buzzing with all sorts of exciting new openings, awards and accolades, anniversaries, and celebrations. Keeping up with it all has become quite the task, but you don’t need to worry. We’re serving Edible Updates on a silver platter, so when your friends ask, you’ve got the answers.
After years of working in the fast-paced kitchens of Pier 39 in San Francisco, Jana and Dewey Grande decided they needed a change of pace. They packed up and left the Bay Area, bringing their family and pastry skills to Reno in pursuit of a better quality of life. The couple wanted to create a local business that married Jana’s experience as a commercial baker and Dewey’s in marketing and sales skills, and they quietly opened Kaffe Crêpe this past December in the Costco shopping center on Plumb Lane in Reno. The café is warm and welcoming with a menu of sweet and savory crêpes perfectly portioned for breakfast, lunch, or an early evening snack. The couple’s culinary creativity really shines in the clever combinations that include Cookie Butter, with house special Biscoff cookie butter and crumbs, banana, and vanilla sugar; the Mediterranean, with hummus, feta, artichoke pesto, and tomatoes; and a constantly changing menu of seasonal specials, many of which were inspired by their guests. They also offer a full range of coffee and espresso beverages, too.
Batuhan Zadeh and Sabri Arslankara aren’t new to the pizza game, but they’re out to change it. After five years of managing and operating Domino’s Pizza locations, these cousins combined their intimate knowledge of the industry with direct customer feedback to create Pizzava, which opened in Midtown this January.
The concept aims to provide a higher quality, food-driven, neighborhood pizza experience that sources locally whenever possible. The two worked closely with the team at Liberty Food & Wine Exchange in Reno to develop their crust so the dough could be delivered fresh daily. Pizzava’s menu features 35 specialty pizzas and the option to build your own from an array of five sauces and 20 toppings. The inventive combos and breakfast pizzas, which are each topped with a beautiful farm fresh egg, are gaining Pizzava a lot of notoriety, but where it’s really winning is in the service department. The efficient kitchen, streamlined menu, and app-based ordering system all are points of pride for the cousins, who spent countless hours developing this system. Their hard work is allowing them to deliver pies (in their delivery area), perfectly hot within 20 minutes, and have takeout orders ready in less than 15 minutes. Since January, the restaurant has seen a huge increase in business, and Zadeh says you can count on at least one other Pizzava location to open before the end of 2018.
Accolades, anniversaries, and acknowledgements
On March 11, our community lost a great friend. Tristan Hill, Galena High School grad, co-owner of the Stamp Social Club in The Basement in Reno, founder of the Northern Nevada Blue Chip Basketball Camp, and a devoted friend, supporter, and believer in Reno died in a tragic helicopter accident in New York City.
Anyone who met Hill knew he was special. Michael Moberly, spirits program director at Reno’s Whispering Vine Wine Co. and a local spirits educator, called Hill a “Disney prince,” a description capturing Tristan’s honest, genuine, authentic, and gracious character. He was full of integrity, magnanimous amounts of regard for others; he always was smiling, insanely passionate, and infinitely optimistic. The comments posted about him on social media show a small fraction of the lives he touched before his life was taken too soon. Brianna Bullentini, lead designer of The Basement, said, “We have always been following your lead, buddy. Don’t stop guiding us.” He will be greatly missed.
Reno won big at the Best of Craft Beer Awards, held this January in Bend, Ore. Seventy-eight judges considered more than 10,000 entries in 86 categories that represented 156 different brew styles. IMBĪB Custom Brews of Reno, Great Basin Brewing Co. of Sparks and Reno, and Brasserie St. James of Reno took home a combined total of nine of the 145 coveted medals in this competition, with five of those being gold.
IMBIB Custom Brews
In February, John and Nyna Weatherson celebrated the fifth anniversary of their eatery, Restaurant Trokay. Following a storied career with some of the most awarded chefs in the nation, the Weathersons relocated to Truckee from New York in 2011 to open the restaurant as a way to share their hospitality, craft of cooking, and culinary artistry. Trokay is a remarkable modernist restaurant, the likes of which you’d expect to find in any American metropolitan city.
The food at Trokay is ingredient focused, complex, technical, and extremely beautiful, with an emphasis on seasonality and sustainability. The best way to experience the cuisine at Trokay is by indulging in one of the Chef’s Tasting Menus. As the dishes arrive, you’re not likely to immediately recognize anything on the plate. That’s intentional, as the Weathersons don’t want any preconceived notions to stop you from discovering what’s possible in food. The explanations from the impeccable staff will reveal the intention behind the dish, and with your first bite you’ll understand the purpose, presentation, and role each component plays in the artistic interpretation of the season they’ve created.
This year marks the 40th anniversary for Carson City’s Café at Adele’s and chef Charlie Abowd, his wife Karen Abowd, and their devoted staff have a year-long celebration planned, which includes a recreation of the menu chef Abowd prepared in 2005 for an esteemed group of culinary colleagues at the James Beard House in New York City. This momentous occasion and celebration will be bittersweet for the entire community, though. Late in February, The Abowds announced that after decades of service to the Northern Nevada community, they’re planning for a well-deserved retirement, and part of the plan is the sale of the building and restaurant. Charlie determined that since no one from the Abowd family will be involved, it wouldn’t be Adele’s, and thus the sale does not include the name or menu. The couple is in search of the right buyer who will honor the legacy of this business, its dedicated staff, and the contributions they’ve all made to the community at large. Though retiring, the Abowds intend to remain active parts of the community, continuing their involvement with The Green House Project and more, in between time spent with their grandchildren and travels abroad.
Cafe at Adele's
Have you been to Carlillos Cocina in Sparks or Smiling with Hope Pizza in Reno? If not, start planning ahead because all eyes are on them with the announcement that they’re two of Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat for 2018, a national poll. Carlillos Cocina, which is located in the old Landrum’s building on Rock Boulevard, is passionately run by a father-and-son team who serve some of the biggest and best Mexican plates in town. This place is so popular that the owners often have a line just to get into the tiny parking lot and front door. Smiling with Hope Pizza opened in early 2016 as a way to perpetuate the worthy social mission that Walter and Judy Gloshinski started in schools more than 20 years earlier. The restaurant employs people with developmental disabilities, trains them to be extremely effective employees, and serves up the best East Coast-style pie in town, and possibly on the West Coast. To create the list, Yelp’s data science team compared businesses from across the country, using a ranking that considered ratings and number of reviews, while also accounting for quality and popularity, to not only reveal what’s top rated but what’s most popular across the country. This marks the second consecutive year for these local business owners, who have been winning customer favor for both their great food and exceptional service.
Smiling with Hope Pizza
Changes and Openings
Businesses adapt and evolve to better suit the needs of their customers and reach new ones. In January, Rawbry announced it would close its retail location in order to extend beyond Reno and help our whole region start stealing back their health. The owner of the cold-pressed juice bar, which anchored The Basement in Downtown Reno, saw the chance to serve more customers by offering regional delivery and wholesale opportunities, so she has moved production to a co-packer to manage the increased production required to service the expected growth. Look for Rawbry products to start showing up in local coffee shops, retailers, and more in the coming months.
The announcement of Rawbry’s closure caused rumors to circulate about The Basement, with many speculating the development would close, which is not the case. The Basement’s tenants, which include Global Coffee, Pantry Products, Escape, and Sugar Love Chocolates, all are doing well thanks to the support of the community.
Substantial progress is being made on Bently Heritage, Bently Enterprises’ estate distillery in Downtown Minden, with the hiring of maltster Matt Drew and the completion of Bently Ranch’s multimillion-dollar malting facility. Drew spent four years learning the art of malting, creating small batches in Texas during the start of the craft distilling movement, before relocating to Nevada last year to pursue the craft as a career. He was hired by Bently Heritage in October 2017, and the Bently malting facility came online this March.
Malting is the first step in whiskey making, where the grains begin to convert their carbohydrates into the fermentable sugars, which ultimately drive flavors found in the finished product. Bently’s decision to invest so heavily in this area was motivated by several factors, including its designation as an estate distillery, which mandates that this process be done on the property, and its dedication to creating spirits that taste of the terroir of the Carson Valley. Traditionally, malt refers to barley, but any grain can be malted. Drew will be malting rye, corn, wheat, barley, oats, and other grains grown on the ranch, producing 20 to 24 tons of malt per week. These malted grains will be used to create the unique flavor profiles of the Bently Heritage spirits, and some will be developed on contract for other regional breweries and distilleries.
Bently Ranch, based in Minden, began its grass-fed beef program in 2012 under the direction of Christopher Bently, with online sales to the public and restaurants starting in 2013. The demand for Bently’s products has increased substantially over the last five years, while the processing capacity for cattle in Northern Nevada has not. In an effort to help solve the problem, in 2016, Bently Ranch donated $150,000 to help expand the capacity of Wolf Pack Meats, Northern Nevada’s only USDA-approved processing facility operated by the University of Nevada, Reno. The lack of capacity created gaps in the availability of Bently’s products, and, recognizing that one facility just isn’t enough to meet the demand, Bently Ranch opened the Bently Ranch Butcher Shop this February. The USDA-inspected shop allows Bently Ranch to cut and wrap its own beef for sale, a job Wolf Pack Meats did previously, and it makes the products more easily accessible to the general public as well.
Bently Ranch Butcher Shop
Along with its $100-million new lodge (with 154 rooms, spa, salon, bistro and bar, ballroom, pool, and more), Edgewood Tahoe has a new executive chef following the retirement of Frank Stagnaro, who had been the resort’s executive chef for more than 25 years. Executive chef Charles Wilson, a native of Austin, Texas, came on board this January and will oversee the property’s three restaurants. Chef Wilson’s culinary education began under the expert guidance of his mother and grandmother, who taught him about the beauty and simplicity of fresh, local ingredients and how to let them shine on the plate. From there, he studied culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School before going on to lead kitchens in resort destinations from the Caribbean to Chicago, Scottsdale, Hawaii, and Newport Beach.
“In coming to Tahoe, I’m stepping into a great culinary program with a bountiful local following created by chef Stagnaro,” Wilson says. “In 2018, I’m looking forward to regenerating menus to give locals and our guests additional flavor profiles to choose from among the three restaurants.”
Our support for long-standing local institutions and all of the new concepts and cuisines that have arrived is fueling the explosive and exciting growth we’re seeing in our city. Sharing these great stories and your own experiences with friends and family will inspire others to show their support, too. We’re all an active part of putting the Reno-Tahoe region on the map, and in so doing, we’re helping our local food community thrive.
Until next time, remember to eat, drink, and support local!
Michael Tragash is the local community director with Yelp.com. He’s passionate about connecting people to all the useful, funky, and cool businesses and happenings in the Reno-Tahoe region. You usually can find him exploring the local food-and-drink scene or the natural beauty that surrounds us.