THE LATEST SCOOP
Keeping you informed of local food-and-drink news.
WRITTEN BY MICHAEL TRAGASH
PHOTOS BY GREG BRADY
Our food-and-drink scene is exploding! Don’t take my word for it. Just look at all the new additions we celebrate in this column each issue. Openings, awards, accolades, and anniversaries continue to dominate the scene, and keeping up with it all has become quite the task. You don’t need to worry, though, because we’re serving Edible Updates on a silver platter. When your friends ask, you have the answers.
New businesses and new digs
Don’t let the construction in Midtown Reno deter you. All that heavy equipment adds up to progress you can’t miss as you take a southbound drive along South Virginia Street. Starting on the north end of the neighborhood, St. Lawrence Commons has really come into its own with some notable additions, including Brauhaus 701. Brauhaus is one of the only German-inspired restaurants in the area, soothing our savage appetites at all hours with big boards filled with brats, freshly baked pretzels (extra mustard, please!), duck fat fries, and, yes, lots of beer.
Next door at Homegrown Gastropub, owner Spencer Shea has uncovered more space in the historic building long held by his family, adding a luxuriously appointed private dining room that can seat up to 60.
One block over, on Center Street, the sweet smell of smoke fills the air daily since Brothers Barbecue recently moved into Midtown. Joe Orduna and his team are churning out pounds and pounds of the same pork ribs, brisket, hot links, and homemade sides we’ve all come to know and love, and the new location maintains the homey vibe and friendly service while adding a little more local flair and seating.
Brothers Barbecue in Midtown Reno
Back on South Virginia, if you dream of beignets and Bourbon Street, then look no farther than Rue Bourbon. Owners Kevin Stanley and Kaya Bromley wanted to bring some Big Easy flair to The Biggest Little City and opened this bar/restaurant so we could all laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll)! Rue Bourbon offers live music, craft cocktails, and a concise menu of Cajun- and Creole-inspired favorites such as fried alligator, muffalettas, and baskets of fresh, hot beignets capped with powdered sugar.
Just north of Midtown, the unofficially named Little Portland neighborhood, at Pine and Center streets, continues to expand with the opening of Sizzle Pie in January. Sizzle Pie serves up East Coast-style slices and pies with West Coast flair. It’s taking the highest-quality ingredients and making classic — and what are sure to be new classic — combinations that can be enjoyed by everyone, omnivores and vegans alike. Sizzle Pie wants us to “Eat pizza every day,” according to its slogan, and knowing that everything served here is both sourced as locally as possible and made in house makes that easy. Bring friends and share a pie or just snag the slice-and-salad lunch combo. Did I mention the full bar?
Sizzle Pie in Reno
Airport food options are traditionally lame, and I’ve never understood why. They have large kitchens, cooks, and a whole lot of customers, so serving something fresh, local, and delicious should be a piece of cake. Lucky for us, the leaders at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport care and have committed to expanding the options here. It started with Wild Garlic, then the Escape Lounge with chef Colin Smith at the helm. Most recently, Vino Volo and the Verdi Market came on the scene in December. The Verdi Market serves Hub Coffee Roasters coffee, its cases carry freshly baked goods from Perenn Bakery and Mix Bakeshop in Reno, and the shelves are stocked with locally made products from such Reno businesses as Kimmie Candy and Nevada Sunset Winery, making it a great place to grab a gift before takeoff. Next door at Vino Volo, you can enjoy some regional favorites by the glass or in a flight, all of which easily can be paired with wine bar bites from its menu or the local eats from the adjacent Verdi Market.
Vino Volo in the Reno Tahoe International Airport
Food and family are the guiding principles behind Gather in Carson City, which opened in July 2018. Owner Angela Bullentini Wolf’s family history goes back 150 years in the Carson City area, meaning a lot of fond memories are shared through the restaurant. Growing up in the kitchen at her nonna’s knee, Wolf learned a love of food steeped in that family history, which you’ll find on the menu, including her nonna’s recipes; salad dressings created and perfected by her grandfather while a chef in the Navy; and even desserts made in house by her aunt, Dana Hastings. The rest are creations of chef Howard Jachens, who takes inspiration from the seasonal offerings of local farms and ranches. Gather truly celebrates our local foodshed, serving beef from Bently Ranch, located a whopping 14 miles down the road from the restaurant in Minden, as well as lamb, pork, and produce from farms within Carson Valley, Fallon, Dayton, and Elko. Chef Jachens spotlights these ingredients and their producers throughout the menu in signature grain and veggie bowls, salads, house-made soups, and small plates, all of which change with the seasons. Gather truly is a place welcoming to all, including children, and Wolf hopes diners will gather here and make family memories all their own.
Angela Bullentini Wolf owner manager of Gather in Carson City. Photo by Tanja Musselman
If I told you a delicious double decker was waiting for you in Carson City, what would you think I meant? Well, you can stop thinking about sandwiches and switch gears, because I’m talking about Billy Lavelle, his wife, Laurie, and a double-decker bus that made a transatlantic journey to Reno-Tahoe for a second life as a mobile eatery called The Bus Boy. The vehicle actually is a full-scale mobile restaurant, complete with commercial kitchen and dining area that can host up to 36 people at a time. Lavelle aims to make The Bus Boy an approachable and affordable eatery for all, and on the menu you’ll find street fare favorites such as fish and chips, alongside higher-end offerings including beef and salmon Wellington, and gluten-free options, too. The Lavelles are committed to sourcing locally when possible; offerings have included sausages from Flocchini Family Provisions in Carson City, beef and lamb from Sanchez Ranch in Wellington, produce from Peri & Sons Farms in Yerington, and desserts made by L.A. Bakery Café & Eatery in Carson City. As you can imagine, finding space for this double-decker is a challenge, but you can bet they’ll be in the biggest lots the capital city has available. Find the schedule and menu on Facebook and Instagram.
In 2011, Kenji’s Food Truck helped to pioneer Reno’s food truck movement, gaining massive popularity with its Hawaiian plate lunches, Korean-style street tacos, and Latin-Asian fusion specials served from a brightly colored truck with an unmistakable design. In the past few years, you may have seen the truck zipping around town between office building bookings and the Tesla Gigafactory as its busy schedule began limiting our opportunity to enjoy Kenji’s. Loyal fans asked for more, and in February, owners Joe and Keliana Najera opened a restaurant, Kenji’s, inside their commercial kitchen on the corner of Longley Lane and Neil Road. The storefront is small, seating is sparse, and the dining room is dominated by a truck façade where diners order, all of which ensures you get that classic Kenji’s food truck vibe.
Kenjis storefront location in Reno maintains its food truck vibe
Do you hear that? It’s the sound of North Valley residents rejoicing: As of March, they now have a watering hole catering to their craft beer dreams and cocktail wishes. Bret Schaeffer, former owner of Sixfour Growlers, and Paul Ganzer, a former manager at Reno-Sparks’ Great Basin Brewing Co., pooled their 25-plus years of combined experience in the industry to co-found The 395 Craft Beer & Spirits in North Hills Boulevard. The 395 has 34 taps, a full bar, a seasonal cocktail menu, wine, and seven TVs airing games and events. As you’d expect in a bar run by beer geeks, plenty of craft bottles occupy the fridge, and customers also can fill growlers and crowlers from the taps.
The 395 Craft Beer Spirits in North Reno
In July 2018, Pignic Pub & Patio announced a new partnership with Sparks’ Revision Brewing Co. that would bring a Revision taproom to Downtown Reno; in February, it opened. Pignic’s owners worked closely with local contractors, including Fassbender Brothers Painting, to renovate and retrofit the luxuriously appointed upstairs floor of the historic building for the taproom. With the opening of the Revision Taproom, Pignic also now offers expanded food offerings to include a Southern-inspired brunch and lunch service. “We feel that we are finally able to actualize Pignic’s full potential — the community grilling, parties/events, and live entertainment we already are famous for now is coupled with a Revision Brewing Taproom, Southern barbecue/Creole brunch and lunch service, and extended event services,” says Ryan Goldhammer, Pignic’s co-owner.
Ryan Goldhammer co owner of Noble Pie Parlor and Pignic Pub Patio celebrates the opening of Revision Brewing
Great Basin Brewing Co.s Outlaw Milk Stout won gold at The Best of Craft Beer Awards
Our local breweries continue to bring notoriety to our region with a bevy of major awards annually. The Best of Craft Beer Awards presents 250 medals to brewers from across the country, and in 2019, six Northern Nevada breweries brought home nine of them across nine categories. Here’s how the results shook out:
- Great Basin Brewing Co.: gold, Sweet Stout or Cream Stout category – Outlaw Milk Stout
- IMBIB: gold, Belgian-Style Gueuze Lambic category – Triad; bronze, Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer category – Abiogenesis #9
- Alibi Ale Works: silver, Brett Beer category – Farmhouse Reserve; silver, Brown Porter category – Alibi Porter
- 10 Torr Distilling and Brewing: silver, American-Style Pilsner category – Secret Cove Cerveza
- Lead Dog Brewing Co.: silver, Juicy or Hazy Imperial or Double India Pale Ale category – Conan’s Wrath
- Revision Brewing Co.: bronze, American-Style India Pale Ale category – Revision IPA; bronze, Brown Porter category – Black Umbrellas
In other local beer award news, FiftyFifty Brewing Co. in Truckee was named Brewery Group and Brewery Group Brewer of the Year 2018 at the Great American Beer Festival, the largest commercial beer competition in the world. Other local winners at the competition (in September last year) included:
- IMBIB: silver, Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale category – Triad; bronze, Berliner-Style Weisse category – Nevada Weisse
- Great Basin Brewing Co.: silver, Belgian-Style Fruit Beer category – Blood-Orange Wit
- Shoe Tree Brewing Co.: bronze, American-Style Sour Ale category – Wicked Shifty
IMBIB took home two medals from 2018 Great American Beer Festival
The restaurant business is tough, and while we often celebrate the newcomers, we also revere those establishments that have made significant impacts on the local scene. In this issue, we’re celebrating the following anniversaries:
- Pinocchio’s Bar & Grill in Reno and Sparks celebrated 22 years in March.
- 4th St. Bistro in Reno celebrated 19 years in February.
- El Adobe in Reno celebrated 19 years in March.
- Food Shed Café inside the Great Basin Community Food Co-op in Reno celebrated one year in February.
- The Cheese Board in Reno celebrated two years under the ownership and direction of former employees Caitlin and Krista Kintop.
Our patronage of longstanding local institutions and all of the new concepts and cuisines that have arrived supports the exciting growth we’re seeing in Reno-Tahoe. Sharing these great stories and your own experiences with others will inspire them 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 a local food influencer and 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.