THE LATEST SCOOP
Keeping you informed of local food and drink news.
WRITTEN BY MICHAEL TRAGASH
ILLUSTRATION BY GREG BRADY
Since the beginning of 2016, more than 20 new restaurants have opened in the region, adding diversity and excitement to our food and drink culture. We’ve done our best to cover them in this column, in addition to sharing awards won by local producers, incredible food-centric events, advancements in local food production, and great new products being created right here in Reno-Tahoe. The restaurant scene is showing no signs of slowing, and in the past few months, nearly 10 restaurants have opened, bringing even more new experiences for local diners to enjoy.
Owners Marlena and Luke Bill set out to create something special for the Truckee community, with a restaurant wholly devoted to the best local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients our foodshed has to offer. And they invited chef Adam Hinojosa back to his home state of California to helm the kitchen of Old Town Tap in the heart of historic Downtown Truckee. Hinojosa is applying his personal passion for local farmers and ranchers and his specialization in the art of charcuterie and old-school preservation to create a menu that includes Neapolitan pizzas and shareable small plates and salads. The dishes feature fresh ingredients Tahoe Food Hub and local producers such as Foothill Roots Farm, Long Dream Farm, Jollity Farm, and Towani Organic Farm, among others. The owners also created an exceptional bar program with 16 beers and 12 wines on tap, as well as craft cocktails complete with artisan, hand-chiseled ice cubes. All pair perfectly with the food.
Choose a cookie, pick an ice cream, and enjoy. It’s literally that simple at Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches, Midtown Reno’s newest dessert destination created by Jessica Schneider, owner of the adjacent Junkee Clothing Exchange. According to the website, keeping things simple makes life a whole lot sweeter, and Schneider is applying that philosophy to the high-quality ingredients she has lovingly sourced for these sandwiches. Ice cream comes from Minden’s Hoch Family Creamery and daily fresh-baked cookies — or the infamous #notacronut — from Rounds Bakery in Reno. A great accent is the common sense quotes covering the walls, all arranged with Schneider’s signature, quirky sense of design.
Mark Estee’s new space
Liberty Food & Wine Exchange, which took over the space held by Reno Provisions (at 100 N. Sierra St. in Reno), is Mark Estee’s newest addition to the restaurant scene. The menu features house-made charcuterie, salumi, salads, desserts, and small plate dishes such as arepas, and it allows diners to experience them as snacks, solo dining, or shareable plates. Dishes were crafted to pair well with great wines, which Elise Vandenberg, certified sommelier and wine director, has selected. Liberty’s wine program includes wines by the half-glass, glass, and bottle, as well as bottles sold retail and a wine-blending station where guests may create personal mixes. In addition, Liberty offers an exchange program, which allows guests to exchange wines from their personal collections with extraordinary wines at the restaurant. Liberty also brings a small specialty market to downtown, with grab-and-go items such as salads and sandwiches, house-made charcuterie, breads, pastas, sauces, and other accoutrements.
After many successful years operating one of the area’s premier catering companies, chef-owner Colin Smith and wife and co-owner MaryBeth Smith made their return to the restaurant scene with the opening of Roundabout Grill. In May, Roundabout Catering entered into a 10-year agreement with Whitney Peak Hotel in Reno to manage its food and beverage operations, which includes room and banquet services for the third-floor meeting and event venue (opened in July) and a lease on the restaurant space that was formerly Heritage. Roundabout Grill is a comfortable place, with a menu focused on high-quality ingredients and value for diners. Above all else, the Smiths look forward to reconnecting with local customers who have become friends over the past several years and making new ones through this venture.
We’ve all seen sushi spots opening around town, and we’ve undoubtedly asked, “Do we really need another one?” Well, simply put, the answer is that we do, so long as the owners and chefs are up for the challenge of evolving and improving the sushi experience in Northern Nevada. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Hinoki Sushi, located at Longley Lane and McCarran Boulevard in Reno, right next door to La Posada Real. Sushi aficionados will approve of Hinoki’s dedication to distinct ingredient combinations that build upon each other’s flavors, all of which are highlighted by light sauces with more subtle flavors or bright acidity. Ask to try some of the signature nigiri offerings, such as buttery hamachi with herbaceous shiso leaf (a Japanese basil), or special tako, which features tender octopus slices wrapped around a soft, spicy center of marinated sweet, fresh scallops with a touch of tobiko for texture.
Online, locals have been asking for cook-it-yourself Korean barbecue for quite some time now. And in June, the calls were finally answered with the opening of Ijji 4. Korean barbecue offers diners the opportunity to cook their selections of meats and seafood right at their tables on the built-in grills. Meals may be enjoyed with a huge variety of side dishes called banchan. Ijji 4 is an all-you-can-eat restaurant, which offers a menu of classic cuts (including pork belly, marinated sirloin called bulgogi, and kalbi, which are marinated short ribs), as well as a premium lineup of meats (including several cuts of Wagyu, U.S. Kobe beef, and Angus brisket). From the looks of Yelp reviews, community members are loving this concept, which is why several more Korean barbecue restaurants are rumored to be opening soon. One is Siu BBQ in Sparks, from the owners of Crawfish Asian Cuisine in Reno, which began hiring in July and is slated to open soon. With all the authentic flavor of its parent restaurant, this one has us excited.
Fresh, local salads
Chomp, a made-to-order salad bar, is the latest addition to the ever-expanding array of vendors in The Basement (the former downtown Reno post office building at 50 S. Virginia St.). Salads at Chomp — opened in the late summer — are carefully crafted, full of nutrition, and flavor filled to the last bite. Chomp owners — Brianna Bullentini and Kristen Jaskulski — pride themselves on offering minimally processed, nutrient dense meals while supporting Reno’s agricultural and entrepreneurial community, sourcing locally and sustainably.
The team created the concept to complement fellow Basement vendors, RAWBRY (a cold-pressed juice bar), and Escape (a boutique fitness studio, which they collaborated on opening earlier this year). Also, owners of The Basement’s locally owned businesses welcomed national retailer West Elm to the first floor in mid-August.
The Cooking Gallery has long been a favorite foodie stop in Downtown Truckee, stocking everything from cookbooks and candles to kitchen and bar essentials and those wish-list items no great home cook should be without. Now there’s a second location in Reno, meaning the kitchen gadgets, gallon-sized crocks, and gourmet foods are closer than ever before. Look for it in the Arlington Gardens Mall.
Great Full Gardens opened its third location in South Reno in October in the Smith’s shopping center, at 750 S. Meadows Pkwy. This locally owned, organically focused restaurant is the second full-service location for the expanding healthy-choice-based eatery, which is proud to offer options for people with specialized dietary needs, such as raw, vegan, gluten free, or paleo, as well as to the person just looking for great flavor and a menu that is distinct and wholesome. The new location will offer full barista services, wine, local beer, and kombucha on tap. Complete breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus will be served.
Fall foodie events
Reno Bites, Reno’s restaurant week that encourages us to “break the chain and eat local” is back for its fifth year. The event, running Oct. 10 – 16, features dozens of local chefs and restaurants, specialty items, signature events at local eateries, and the ever-popular Chef Showdown at Czyz’s Appliance & Home Gallery in Reno.
The 2016 event series will be capped off with a new signature event called Art, Food, and Roots, benefitting Urban Roots. The event will showcase popular regional chefs, including Amy Simpson (of Jack Rabbit Moon in Incline Village), Mark Estee (of Liberty Food & Wine Exchange, chez louie, and Mark Estee Events), Clint Jolly, and more, working together to create a multi-course menu that highlights the bounty of the local foodshed in an outdoor dining experience for about 200 guests. Sapphire Family of Wines will provide the delectable wines for the event.
Another Reno Bites event — a collaboration among Yelp, Nevada Museum of Art, and Asian-owned businesses — will engage food lovers citywide with an Asian Night Market in the Nightingale Sky Room at Nevada Museum of Art in Reno. Also at Reno Bites, attendees can help decide which local nonprofits benefit from the event. To top it off, Reno Bites diners will have more opportunities to win prizes, try specials, visit restaurants, and participate in fun events throughout the week.
There’s so much happening in our food and drink community. Make sure and do your part to put us on the map by sharing the good word with family and friends near and far. You also can show your support to these amazing local businesses and events.
Until next time, remember to eat, drink, and buy local!
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.