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Ciao Restaurant Reno

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Rejoice! San Francisco has made it to Reno. Ciao Pizzeria and Wine Bar, on S. Virginia, will be opening it's doors tomorrow, and will instantly be the hottest, hippest restaurant in Reno, with the best food. There is some serious food talent involved. It's a joint venture between the former owner of Cafe 333, the current chef of Frederick's, and a third restaurant savvy partner. We're not talking chateaubriand and veal oscar. I believe this to be the first establishment in Reno serving cutting edge cuisine. Please correct me if I'm wrong. I wish I knew of other places.

Last night was a private invitation only opening. Ms. Rev and I knew something was different just driving into the mini mall where Ciao is located. It's sign is more modern and the restaurant stands out from the other drab & dreary storefronts usually populating these kinds of malls. When you first enter and gather in the beauty of the restaurant, you can imagine yourself in one of the newest and trendiest restaurants in any big city. There's a very hip bar and an outdoor patio for dining al fresco.

One feature you can't miss is the huge wood burning oven next to the open kitchen in the back of the restaurant. All of the dishes are cooked in that oven. Can it get any better than that?

Although listed as a pizzeria, there are also appetizers, entrees, and desserts. They were serving samplers from each category. Everything was superb. The pizzas,imo, can't be beat. They have a California Wolfgang Puck crust-one you would find at Postrio, not the ubiquitious Puck express cafes scattered in so many airports. No standard pizza toppings. A few of the samplers are: house sausage,fennel,tomato secco,chilies/pancetta,grilled treviso,fontian,smoked tomato sugo/spinache,aglio,romano fantal,sea salt. An appetizer to die for is salt roasted beets, pine nut brittle, fig, and formaggio caprino. We also sampled a tomato caprese crostini. The first entree was very tasty neapolitan meatballs, treviso, and sugo. That was followed by ethereal braised beef shortribs, bitter greens, cipolina, ricotta rabano, and brodo. If you've never seen God in shortribs, this is the dish. Dessert was a moist, wonderful, dark chocolate flourless cake. The rest of the menu looked equally inviting. It will change it periodically.

I didn't see the wine list but considering Cafe 333 earned a wine spectator award, and the owner is an Advanced Sommelier working on her Masters, I would be pretty confident the wine list will carry some very interesting selections in all price ranges.

Ciao Pizzeria + Wine Bar
7111 S. Virginia St.

Link: http://www.ciaoreno.com

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    janet of reno

    And we are going to have a chowdown when????

    2 Replies
    1. re: janet of reno

      I think a chowdown is a wonderful idea, however we should probably give them a few weeks to settle in. If anyone else out there is interested, please respond.

      1. re: RevrendAndy

        Just found this post. I'd be interested in a Chowdown at Ciao as well.

    2. I ate there about a week ago, and have been traveling since and haven't had a chance to post. It is a little pricey, btw. Dinner for five including one bottle of wine and tip was $270. Everyone really liked their food, except my stepmom. She said the chicken was dry (she had the roast chicken). To their credit, the owner came over and talked with her about it, and ended up taking it off the bill (so that makes that price seem even pricier when you consider it didn't include one main course). Interestingly enough, my favorite dish was the pizza, and I usually don't like pizza. Really nice thin crust and delicious ingredients. European-style. Also one of the more reasonably priced items on the menu. I think I would love to go and try all the pizzas and some cocktails on the patio. Also really enjoyed the home-made gelatos for desert.

      4 Replies
      1. re: janetofreno

        I'm rethinking Ciao...altho I love the food, it is very pricey and portions are miniscule. I think it will now be my "sit at the bar with a pizza and glass of wine" place.

        1. re: nancyhudson

          My first meal there cost me $75 (two glasses of wine and a tip). It is nice, but at a price.
          They used to offer a variety of pizzas, too, but they've stopped doing that. They had a great pizza with potato.

          1. re: SteveTimko

            Steve, I'm surprised about your comment that there's no variety of pizzas. I was there for lunch today and noticed 5 or 6. For kids, they do pepperoni and I believe sausage-something a little more ordinary than their regular gourmet items. I'm sure they would improvise if you requested. I just ate lunch at the bar today and had a chopped salad with chicken, peaches, boursin, and pomagranite vinaigrette. It was wonderful.

            1. re: RevrendAndy

              Andy, they had a standard menu and then offered four or five special pizzas each day. Now they have just the standard five, I believe. I guess five counts as a variety, but not like the variety they had when they opened.

      2. We're in synch. I didn't order pizza, but I sat at the pizza counter and the other customer there (who knew the pizza cook/co-owner) let me have a slice of pizza and it was kick ass. I also got the gelato with three flavors, one of them commonly a fragrance (I can't remember the name) and it was good too.
        So I'm up for pizza and gelato, definitely.
        I'd like to see what wines they have once they get the wine bar going.

        1. The fragrance-flavored gelato was lavender. And it was delicious...I'm crazy busy until mid-July but anytime after that you want to go have a pizza-fest, I'm up for it!!

          1. I ate there last night and got the chicken basil pizza. It was wonderful with great crust. Plus I found a wonderful new sangiovese, Benessere. My only gripe is that I wish the pizza had a few more chunks of chicken.
            Maybe we should do a Chowhound Pizza challenge and see who makes the best pizza in town. Bella Serra is also supposed to make good pizza.

            1. I don't really LIKE pizza all that much, but a challenge might be fun. My office is very fond of Zpizza in Sparks. FWIW. I do want to check out Bella Serra, on general principles.

              1 Reply
              1. re: janetofreno

                Regarding Bella Sera, if you haven't been there yet, is very good, excellent service. I can't remember what i had, it was a while ago. It's definitely trendy feeling, so if you like that sort of atmosphere you'll most probably enjoy it! But I'm sure you've been already, since your post of July.

              2. Zpizza: Is that the place at Sparks Boulevard and East Prater? I went there one night about 6 p.m. and they were closed. I thought maybe they had shut down or something.

                1. Steve: I think they moved recently. You can tell I never voluntarily go out for pizza...the only time I've eaten it is when the staff went and got it for a staff take-out lunch. I'll find out when I go to work tomorrow and report back. I think the pizza is good but its still pizza. Everyone else raved about it.

                  1. As a transplant from Chicago, the most bitter disappointment I have endured is the complete lack of edible pizza. I don't care if this sounds provincial or elitist, but Reno could be the worst pizza city in the U.S. It goes without saying that I would be extremely interested in a pizza-off.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: CoolerbytheLake

                      Now I don't think i'll try Zpizza after all. So, is there an italian restaurant(s) you do like here? I'm always having trouble finding one myself. One i have found near me is located on the Northwest side of town, just off of the 80 West, Keystone exit, a pretty darn good italian restaurant called Pierino's. Excellent pizza, i think, and very homey atmosphere. The spicey pasta dish is wonderful and the service just can't be beat. Plus, you can order a pizza however you like it and take it home.

                    2. OMG - Chowhounds in Reno - how fantastic! I ate at Ciao 3 times the first week it was open...absolutely loved it, and the pizza is positively divine. I am a fan of ZPizza (there is one in Caughlin Ranch, too) but I think my fave (outside of Ciao)may be Pierino's in Keystone Plaza. It's worthy.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nancyhudson

                        well, if there is a Zpizza in Caughlin Ranch that would certainly work for a taste-off. You can tell I'm not into Pizza.....I live right near Caughlin Ranch and never noticed a pizza place there. BTW, I've never had the pizza at Pierino's, but I do like it for inexpensive family dining....hubby likes to go there when we're too tired to cook and want something inexpenisve nearby. They have some good pastas too.

                      2. Maybe we should do a pizza off.
                        I jumped the gun and already had pizza at Bella Serra. It's more pizzeria style. It's good, but I like what Nu Yalk Pizza does better. And Nu Yalk Pizza costs less. Ciao's pizza is more gourmet pizza. I like it better than Bella Serra.
                        I do have a funny story, though, from Bella Serra. I got the pizza in the lounge so I could watch sports on the big screen TVs. There were two other tables in use in the lounge when I arrived.
                        There's a small stage near where you go into the main restaurant and there was a lounge act setting up when I ordered. Turns out it was three guys on musical instruments backing two female singers. Htey use a pre-recorded bass line and one guy was on drums, one was on organ and one was guiter, I think. Just as the lounge act started up, one of the groups at a table left. Then shortly thereafter the other group left. Meaning it was the lounge act singing to me.
                        Eye contact was awkward. The music wasn't good, even by lounge standards. And the patter by the perfomers == ugh. The leader joked about how he looked like Mini Me. One of the singers talks about wearing an old dress, but it doesn't fit her the same because she's put on 20 pounds. And the leader, who's behind her, goes "Oh yeah, and I'm looking at it now."
                        It's hard to enjoy pizza when you've got this kind of stuff going on.
                        If we're going to talk about pizza, we're going to have to try the Halfway Club too. They've been making pizza for like 60 years.
                        I don't know what happened to Reno pizza. 25 years ago even Godfather made decent pizza.
                        So what are our nominations for best pizza in Reno?
                        Ciao Reno
                        Nu Yalk Pizza
                        Halfway Club
                        We can toss Bella Serra in too, if you want. It's good pizza, but I can think of two places that make better pizza.

                        1. Zpizza in Caughlin is up top by Scolari's -- same side as Starbucks. I can do JJ's if I have to, I like the spiciness of the Valdez, but the crust is mediocre.

                          1. I am starting a new subject head, since we are way off of just Ciao......

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: janetofreno

                              Hah! That's what i was thinking! But i do think i'm very happy with my Pierino's.

                            2. It’s been some time since we’ve been to Ciao, so MsRev and I headed down the hill to meet a friend for dinner. The meal was terrific and the restaurant seems to be firing on all cylinders.

                              Of course, pizza is a necessity and the “Carciofo,” with smoked provolone, cured artichoke, white sauce, and lardo didn’t disappoint. Love their crust! MsRev and our friend each ordered the wood oven roasted beet salad, with smoked cauliflower & ricotta salata puree, poached pear, and bacon. This was a very sophisticated dish with all the flavors working beautifully together.

                              MsRev had the grilled duckling with Calabria chili corn crepes and pomegranate duck demiglace. The duck was succulent and moist and married well with the crepes. I’m not sure I could identify the pomegranate in the sauce but it was delicious. I ordered Niman Ranch braised shortrib with roasted turnips, baby carrots, and sunnyside egg. I believe their shortrib to be a signature dish and among the best I’ve ever had. Their preparation has been tweaked a bit from my last visit but the same marvelous flavor has remained. The sunnyside egg on top is a nice touch, with crispy edges and a runny yolk. It adds another level of richness (and a few more points to the cholesterol count). Our friend enjoyed beetroot brined pork toploin, roasted vegetable pastry, duet of pureed heirloom tomatoes & cilantro mint syrup. The pork was cooked perfectly medium rare, leaving it very moist with a bit of crispiness around the edges. Upon first taste, the tomato puree seemed to clash with the pork, however, when mixed with the cilantro mint syrup, all the flavors in combination worked well. The pastry was more akin to a samosa, perfectly fried. We had no room for dessert.

                              When Ciao first opened, I felt they were a bit pricey but the food worth it. Since returning in May, we’ve tried Sezmu and Lu Lu’s and loved them both. However they were quite expensive, with most entrees over $30. Ciao, which I believe is as good or better as any other restaurant in Reno, now seems like a bargain with no entrée more than $28. Ciao is entering it’s 2nd year and there is no hint of a sophomore slump. They are at the top of their game.

                              1. Ate at Ciao for Valentine's Day this year - what an utter disappointment. We went with another couple and she and I split the special dinner which was green salad, some type of crab dish starter, Rib eye, lobster, sage potatoes and a sherbert. Price was $50 each - not bad at all. Let's just say I probably would have enjoyed my dinner way more if it did not take 1.5 hours to arrive - I am not kidding. The guys ordered Kobe burgers. About an hour after placing our order, the waiter came by and said the burgers were up and did we want him to bring them out ahead of our meals - we said that was fine. The arrived a half hour later with our meal - ice cold with rock-hard buns. Our rib-eyes were fabulous, but everything else was a dissapointment - the crab was oily and tasted canned, the lobster was cold and on a stick (again, not kidding). I had heard a rumour that Ciao is to close at the end of the month - the waiter confirmed this and said they were not equipped to handled larger crowds (no kidding) and were reopening in a month or so with a different theme. I got the impression that it would be sports bar-like (like we need another one of those). They made an adjustment to our bill, but the experience was so terrible we will never return.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: nancyhudson

                                  According to the RGJ they did close, and will reopen possibly in late April with a new name, Bite. The article was in the Blogs.