Wife and husband team Michelle Pagliarella and Jeremy Morrow recently opened Strega at 310 S. Arlington Ave. It’s a funky little upscale neighborhood bar disguised as a hipster hangout with a mellow vibe, a comfy front porch and a developing personality. The RN&R caught up with Pagliarella as a new pool table was being installed.
Where did the name Strega come from?
My family is from Italy and my mom used to call me “Little Witch” in Italian all the time. So Strega Piccola is “little witch.” I love the name Strega, I think it’s a pretty name, and it’s always stuck with me. I studied witchcraft and studied theology, and I thought the earth religion was fascinating, so I always wanted something that had ties to the Earth and history.
So I guess “little witch” was a term of endearment?
There’s also a book called Strega Nona, and Stegaria is Italian witchcraft. Now it’s kind of frowned upon, but at one time, it was very revered. I just like that history and historical aspect about my lineage, basically.
What’s the bar going to be about?
What we’re doing is we like to support local, sustainable efforts. I go to the farmers’ market and get all my lemons, limes and oranges, grapefruit. I make simple syrup from blackberries from Fallon. I do an agua fresca. In Italy, we drink watermelon juice in the summer because it’s so hot, so I made a variation, and I do watermelon vodka with watermelon juice. I think I’ve probably sold 500 of them since we opened [July 12]. We’re trying to do fresh juice, fresh-pressed everything. Kind of like the al minuto style of cooking, everything’s made to order. We’re trying to do that, all my mojitos, all my Margaritas, everything is made to order. I just press all my juice myself. We’re not going to do watermelon in the winter because it’s not available. We want to work with what’s available seasonally.
What kind of crowd do you attract?
Neighborhood. It’s been neighborhood people, after-work business people. We’ve got from a congressman coming in to some people who just liked the house—they thought [opening night] was a house party and came by and have been here every night since we opened. It’s a neighborhood place. People ride their bikes here.
Are you going to have live music?
We don’t know yet. Maybe acoustic. It’s not small, but it’s not really acoustically friendly. We had a friend from Portland for our opening night, and he was on acoustic guitar, and it sounded wonderful. We’ll probably do poetry slams once a week. We also have six artists that we’re featuring [on the walls], and we’re going to change those every two months.
What hours are you keeping?
I’ve been opening up at 4 p.m. until 2 in the morning. Every day for the summer.
What else should we talk about?
I’m planning on doing a happy hour with free food. I’m from Connecticut, and that’s all we do—happy hours like every day. We’re going to be in the Reno Beer Crawl on Saturday, and I think we’re going to be on [the] Reno Uncorked [tour].