THE LATEST SCOOP
Keeping you informed of local food and drink news.
WRITTEN BY MICHAEL TRAGASH
ILLUSTRATION BY GREG BRADY
With openings, expansions, events, and growth just about everywhere you look in the Reno-Tahoe food and drink community, keeping up with our constantly evolving and ever-expanding scene has become quite the task. No worry; we’re here to help. These Edible Updates are your guide to all the goings-on. So when your friends ask, you’ve got the answers.
To Italy and back
Chef Tim Magee has found his way back to his hometown of Reno after 15 years of working in some of the most acclaimed kitchens in Italy, and even a brief stint under René Redzepi at the world-renowned noma in Copenhagen. Magee opened Calafuria in early April in the Reno bungalow that previously housed Rose’s Café, Little House on Center Street, and Villa Donato. The lunch menu features fresh, seasonal Italian deli-style dishes, including Roman-style pizza and sandwiches served on house-made rolls and focaccia (such as the Caprese and Cinque Cinque, which is a crêpe made from chickpeas). The restaurant also is open for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays with a $35, four-course Livornese menu that changes weekly. Magee offers simple dishes that highlight the robust flavors of the high-quality ingredients he uses.
New faces in new places
In case you missed it, Campo Reno was sold in December, with the new owner, Sanjay Lillaney, taking full control on April 11. Lillaney has plans to expand the popular restaurant into other areas, and the first stop will be Sparks, where Campo Vino is slated to open this summer on Los Altos Parkway. David Holman, former executive chef of Charlie Palmer Steak in the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, will helm the kitchen. Holman has a long history of working with Charlie Palmer, dating back to 2002, when Holman began creating dishes for the acclaimed chef after culinary school in New York City. Holman gave Palmer one month’s notice before making his exit, a noble gesture to a man he credits with much of the success he has seen throughout his career.
Lucky 7s on Center
The lights turned on at 777 Center St. in Reno this June — the former location of Maytan Music — with the openings of Noble Pie Parlor Midtown and Bukko Island Sushi and Grill. Noble Pie Parlor Midtown will be a familiar yet different feel for fans of the original downtown location. Think open kitchen with chef’s table-style seating inside, 14 taps for beers and ciders, steel accents, and a separate 14-seat bar with TVs. Don’t worry, the restaurant’s staff members still will be serving some of our city’s favorite pizza and those award-winning wings. But you also can expect an expanded selection of appetizers, such as fried polenta, house-made meatball sliders on focaccia, and a few new signature pies, among other additions.
Bukko is a new dining experience for our city, with three distinct environments and a menu that truly is a melding of cultures. A clean and modern dining room allows diners an unobstructed view of the open kitchen, while the large patio offers views of Mt. Rose and the vibrant Midtown district. Diners will find a small menu focused on signature sashimi preparations and ceviches made with the freshest seasonal seafood, and a limited selection of specialty nigiri and maki rolls. Chef Betto Fierro has taken influences from his experience preparing Japanese cuisine, and flavors from his home country of Mexico, and those of the owner’s Filipino roots, and created a menu filled with distinctive signature dishes. Pork belly “tacos” are a perfect example. They are made with an Asian adobo that combines warm spices such as clove, star anise, and cinnamon with the heat of Mexican chiles, garlic, and shallots, all served in a house-made Chinese steamed bun. Bukko also will feature a full bar with a cocktail program centered on sake infusions with calamansi (a Filipino citrus), yuzu, and dragon fruit, as well as craft cocktails made with similar ingredients.
Also located at 777 Center St., Piñon Bottle rolled open its doors on May 28. Piñon exclusively sells beer, and guests can enjoy it as a pint on premises or take it home in a build-your-own six-pack or growler. Currently, the cooler houses 150 bottles, complemented by the 36 beers available on tap. And Piñon promises that the selection will rotate frequently and expand over time.
Japanese small plates
On June 1, LuLou’s owners, Troy and Colleen Cannan, kicked open the doors of their much-anticipated new Midtown restaurant, Kauboi Izakaya at 1286 S. Virginia St. The eatery brings Northern Nevadans the first chance to experience tastes and traditions of popular Japanese taverns. Izakayas are known for their selection of small plates, which encourage diners to leisurely linger over multiple courses accompanied by rounds of drinks. At Kauboi, it’s advised to start on the lighter end of the menu, with cold noodles and salads, before moving on to gyoza, ramen, or kushiyaki (items typically prepared over a charcoal grill).
High desert spirits rising
Nevada is making a name for producing extraordinary spirits influenced by the aromatics of the high desert. In March, Frey Ranch Gin took Double Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the top honor awarded (earning the highest marks from all judges). Frey Ranch Gin derives its distinct flavor profile from the mash bill of Frey Ranch-grown rye, barley, and corn, and an aromatic profile of coriander, angelica root, cardamom, and citrus peel. It also includes juniper berries and sagebrush, both sourced from the Fallon ranch as well. As a Double Gold medalist (along with the others from the competition), Frey Ranch Gin will embark upon a 10-city tasting tour for media and industry professionals.
People crave Kasey and Christian Christensen’s secret recipe salad dressing, which tops the small salads that accompany sandwich orders at Süp in Reno. So the couple has decided to bottle and sell it to the masses. The Christensens bought their production equipment from the owners of Mr. G’s Hawaii-Style Teriyaki, one of whom had to retire due to health issues. The equipment has some good juju on it because Mr. G’s was the recipient of numerous awards during its years in business. Bottles of Süp’s signature tangy white balsamic vinaigrette dressing should be available at Süp and select area retailers by mid-summer. In addition, on May 20, the Christensens won $12,000 in cash and services in the inaugural Level Up business growth competition to be used for the salad dressing production and to treat staff members for all their hard work.
Local chefs and entrepreneurs are offering new pop-up dining experiences, bringing us everything from exotic eats to elevated presentations and profiles.
Gary Romano is going big with Sierra Valley Farms’ events this year. The Dinner in the Barn series will feature some of our area’s finest chefs, such as Sean Conry from Longboards in Graeagle, Mark Estee of the Reno Local Food Group, and Douglas Dale of Wolfdale’s in Tahoe City. In addition, Romano’s summer concert series is back with a full lineup of great acts and food from Cuccia’s restaurant in Graeagle. And in September, Romano brings us Hops with Pops – Septemberfest, a beer festival in the farm’s hop garden. For details, visit www.Sierravalleyfarms.com .
Chef Clint Jolly, February’s winner of the Food Network’s Chopped: Restaurant Impossible Challenge and semifinalist in the National Chefs Taste Challenge (taking place Aug. 19 in New Orleans), launched his Seven Deadly Sins pop-up dinner series, which began with a lust theme in downtown Reno’s The Basement in April, followed by gluttony in June, greed in July, sloth in August, wrath in September, envy in November, and pride in January. For details, visit Clintjolly.com.
Whitney and Josh Deri of Blend Catering in Reno launched their signature dinner series at the Tannenbaum Alpine Events Center in Reno. The special events are limited to 20 diners, and allow these two classically trained chefs to let loose in the kitchen, exploring their creativity and experimenting with techniques. They compose dishes inspired by ingredients that are foraged, sourced from local farms, or provided by the area’s top purveyors. For details, visit Blendcateringreno.com.
Moon Rabbit Café in Reno is a pay-what-you-can dining experience organized by guest chefs and community volunteers through the Reno Buddhist Center. Guests contribute what they can to cover costs and enjoy an internationally inspired menu. Everything from the Aloha flavors of Hawaii to the magical spices of the Middle East has been featured. For details, visit the center’s Facebook page.
Michael Tragash is a senior community manager 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.