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Apr 27, 2008 06:43 PM

Mario's Portofino, Reno

After years of listening to my boss sing the praises of Mario's, my husband and I finally made it there for dinner (thanks to that Christmas gift certificate!). I get it! Okay, well I get the food - the service started out really strong, but ended up being a bit disappointing. First, the food - I would go back here in a heartbeat for the food. We shared an order of calamari as a starter. Generous portion, lightly battered, plenty of "bodies", and a tasty dipping sauce. I opted for a couple of the evening's specials - first the beet salad with arugula and goat cheese. You really can't go wrong with that combination of flavors. It was a little light on the dressing, so I added some of the olive oil and balsamic that was served with our bread. I also went with one of the pasta specials - it was fantastic. A home made rigatoni tossed with chicken, fresh tomatoes, basils, and pinenuts. Simple, but the seasonings and flavors all melded together so nicely.

Only disappointment of the evening was the service. The hostess was so pleasant, and initially the waiter was as well. A bit cocky, but bearable. Initally, he was attentive - not overboard, just right. Eventually, tho, he barely came by, and we were having to wave down bus boys and the hostess to get anything - including our check. Matter of fact, after getting our entrees, he never came by our table again - he was plenty attentive to neighboring tables, just not us...was it something we said?!. Not good. It wouldn't deter me from visiting Mario's again - I would just hope we don't have the same waiter!

Anyway - Mario's was pleasant and I'm glad we finally paid it a visit.

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    1. re: SteveTimko

      Oops - should have included that - sorry. Here you go:

      Marios Portofino Ristorante

      1505 S Virginia St
      Reno, NV 89502
      (775) 825-7779

    2. Good to know it's still there and doing well. We at there the last time we were in Reno about 2005. We had pretty much the same experience. Lovely food and fading service.

      The gnocchi was exquisite. They had a decent wine list as well.

      1. Old thread but we went there for the first time last night. It's a lovely space and was quite full. I think we had the same server you did. He's been there for some years I gather. Wore his hat (!!!) with long hair sticking out. He was pleasant but clearly he couldn't keep up with his tables. Luckily others would step in so it wasn't a major failing but noticeable.

        I had the mushroom risotto and it was 'alright.' I can make better. I think it had been overcooked, just a little too mushy. But it was 'alright.' My husband ordered and I quote from the menu: "BISTECCA DI CALAMARI Calamari Steak sautéed with Garlic, Sundried and Fresh Tomatoes with Orange-Lemon Sauce." Looks good, doesn't it Well, the steak was pale like the oil/butter/whatever wasn't hot enough. It came on top of a big mound of spaghetti. It took me awhile to notice that Bob really wasn't inhaling his food like he usually does :) He eats everything, send nothing back. Ever. This was our first outing with this couple and they picked the restaurant so he didn't say anything. At the end, I took a bite and almost spit it out. It was so strong and fishy tasting - something I've never experienced with calamari. I gave him much praise on the way home for eating as much as he did.

        They had a long list of good sounding desserts but we chose the vanilla ice cream with (good) olive oil and sea salt. That was FANTASTIC! I will be serving this myself.

        I'm not sorry we went but it's unlikely we would go back. I wish I could praise it. It's so pretty and clearly has a strong following. These two dishes aren't difficult for this experienced a restaurant. They should have been better. And the dang server should ditch the hat and cut his hair :)