Comin’ along

Cortina’s open-exhibition kitchen allows diners to watch as their meals are being prepared.

Cortina’s open-exhibition kitchen allows diners to watch as their meals are being prepared.

Photo By David Robert

Cortina Ristorante and Bar

13971 S. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89511

(775) 853-5111

I thought that the new restaurants in the Summit Sierra Mall would all be big corporate chains. But a bit of investigation of Cortina Ristorante and Bar revealed that it is family owned and run.

The restaurant is beautiful. Sleek wood, sandstone bricks and glass accompanied by soft lighting and pristine white table clothes create a pleasant, clean atmosphere. The main dining room is divided into three sections with rows of booths and tables in between. The Pavilion room and the Cortina room offer additional seating for large parties, and the full bar also serves food.

Cortina—named after the Italian ski resort—has a wood-burning pizza oven and an open-exhibition kitchen. The menu offers a selection of appetizers, pasta, salads, meat, fish and desserts. A separate monthly specials menu represents a different region of Italy each month—a nice concept.

My first experience at Cortina was a solo job. I ordered the insalata Molisana ($7.50), a salad of mâche—a sweet, nutty baby lettuce also known as lamb’s lettuce—fennel, yellow and purple carrots, mushrooms, pecorino cheese and red wine vinaigrette. This sounded like a beautiful salad, but when I looked, it had no fennel, Mache or yellow and purple carrots. It was arugula, shaved carrots, raw button mushrooms and pecorino cheese.

“I think you brought me the wrong salad,” I told my server. He immediately returned it, bringing me a similar salad with smaller arugula leaves, fennel, carrots, mushrooms and cheese. Apparently, they didn’t have mâche or yellow and purple carrots. Next, I ordered the seared scallops with lemon caper sauce ($23.95). This dish also could have been better. The polenta was under-cooked, leaving it a little lumpy and grainy. It also needed salt. The scallops were large and plump. They were cooked properly but were a little soggy.

My second trip to Cortina was with my girlfriend, Cherie, and my sister, Sandy, for her birthday. Sandy wanted to order the duck ravioli, but they had just run out. While Sandy read the menu, we ordered some appetizers. We started with fritto misto ($12.95) and the clams and mussels in tomato broth ($12.95). The fritto misto—a mixture of fried calamari, bay scallops and shrimp with pesto mayonnaise, lemon wedges and house-made potato chips, was delicious. The calamari was light and crisp; we agreed that it was a great appetizer. The clams and mussels were also yummy, although the ciabatta croutons were too hard to eat.

Sandy decided on the asparagus ravioli with prosciutto over parmesan cheese fondue ($15.95). Cherie ordered the roasted salmon with pink peppercorn orange glaze over sautéed rapini ($19.95). I ordered the pork chop with roasted fingerling potatoes, port wine sauce and arugula salad. Everybody enjoyed their main courses, although Cherie didn’t like the skin on the salmon, and I was a little let down with the skinny little pork chops—I was hoping for a nice, thick, bone-in pork loin chop. The flavor was pleasant, though, and it was cooked just right.

We had to get dessert for the birthday girl. Our server informed us she could have a tiramisu on the house. I had the panna cotta ($7.95), and Cherie had the assorted sorbet. The dessert was the best part of the meal and comes in large portions.

I think Cortina Ristorante and Bar is a smart concept, but they still have a few bugs to work out. The service is friendly, and I’m sure south-town residents are thrilled to have some good, new restaurants popping up.