Erin and I were seated at a booth by the entrance of the restaurant. Unfortunately, the position of the table somewhat hindered our view of a spectacular light show on the ceiling that was choreographed to Italian music. In the middle of the main dining room, nude Roman statues spun as music played. The ceiling was painted with clouds circling the pinks, greens and purples that splashed through the holes to create a starlight effect. The high, dome-shaped ceiling and its décor gave the place the feeling of being in the Sistine Chapel.
As soon as we sat down, the bus person poured mineral water that had been chilling in a wine bucket into our glasses. The menu and wine lists both looked great, but before we really had a chance to look at them, the waiter greeted us with bruschetta. The thin-sliced toasted bread topped with red peppers and cheese was a nice start.
I can’t say enough about the food at Romanza. The appetizer list includes carpaccio ($10.95), prosciutto and melon ($11.50), asparagus-wrapped prosciutto with fontina ($7.25) and an assortment of bruschetta ($8.25). We selected the calamari ($9.50).
Romanza’s wine list is amazing. Just as the lights and music are in sync, so is the wine and food. The list is very diner-friendly. The selection of wines by the glass is outstanding, and each month they feature a different winery.
For entrées, Erin selected the bucatini all’Amatriciana ($12, $21) and I chose the pappardelle e aragostini ($15, $26). The entrée selection is spectacular. All types of pastas and preparations are offered and the chef’s selection of ingredients is unsurpassed. A creamy sage polenta is served with the oak wood-grilled veal chop ($32) and mascarpone-white truffle potatoes are served with the herb-crusted rack of lamb ($29.95). The free-range chicken is wood-grilled and marinated in Grappa with a balsamic demi-glaze ($19.50). This place is the real thing: big-city cuisine imported to Reno.
The servers’ timing was perfect. The servers were always positioned to help the guests; they stood with their hands behind their backs waiting to serve. The calamari was fabulous. The baby squid were crusted in semolina and drizzled with a basil aioli. Erin and I both loved it.
Erin’s Caesar salad ($6.95) was prepared the traditional way: Romaine hearts lay on the plate with fresh whole anchovies and grated parmigiano-reggiano. My salad, the insalata Romanza ($6.25), was even better: Fresh baby greens with asiago cheese, Granny Smith apples and caramelized walnuts were tossed in balsamic vinaigrette.
When our entrées arrived, I was even more impressed. Erin’s was delicious. Hollow straw pasta tossed with pancetta, cipollini onions, tomato fondue and pecorino-romano cheese filled the edges of her pasta bowl. The pappardelle e aragostini that I ordered was the best pasta I’ve tasted. The rectangular pasta with seared lobster medallions, roasted peppers served with a hot-garlic oil and lobster sauce melted in my mouth.
My entire experience at Romanza was perfect. It offers the most comprehensive dining experience in Reno and may be the best restaurant Reno has ever seen.