House recipe

Paul Crucitti is the executive chef at Fresh Creations.

Paul Crucitti is the executive chef at Fresh Creations.

Photo By allison Young

Fresh Creations is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Walking up to Fresh Creations Culinary School, I was immediately charmed by the light blue Victorian house. Once my friend Brett and I stepped inside, things just got better. The house has been converted to a restaurant and cooking school. It used to house Back of the House cooking school. The front part of the house holds the dining area, which has tall windows, mismatched furniture and three separate dining rooms.

I almost felt like I was dining at a friend’s house—if I had a friend who was a gourmet chef and lived in the cutest house ever, that is. We were greeted by Pam Crucitti, part of the husband and wife duo that runs Fresh Creations. Her husband, Paul, is the chef. We were told to sit wherever we wanted, so we took a long metal table by the window. We both ordered hot tea ($2), which was brought out in cute little tea pots. Sipping my tea, I felt like I wanted to stay here all afternoon. It’s a good thing I didn’t order a glass of wine—which they offer—or I might have.

Choosing what to order was definitely difficult based on the fact that everything sounded so good. The menu is seasonal, and there is also a variety of daily specials offered. I ordered the roasted vegetable panini ($10), which came with a choice of salad or soup. I decided to go with the soup, which was pumpkin. I was expecting a pumpkin purée type soup, but instead the soup had large chunks of pumpkin, along with chicken, rice and celery. The soup had a light mint taste that went perfectly with the pumpkin. When my panini arrived, I was blown away by the vibrant colors of the vegetables including beets, red and yellow peppers and zucchini. The vegetables all tasted fresh. A nice layer of spicy jack cheese was melted on the vegetables, and the toasted sourdough bread gave this a nice crunch. This panini was not only delicious, but also filling.

Brett ordered off the specials menu and went with the beef stew ($10), which came with a small side salad. The salad was very fresh and was served with a Vidalia onion dressing that had a nice sweet tang along with some of the brightly colored beets. The stew arrived with steam pouring from the top beckoning him to dig into the thick broth. The stew was filled with large hunks of beef, carrots and portabella mushrooms. The beef was very tender and went perfectly with the hearty broth. There was also a side of garlic bread for dipping.

Service throughout was friendly, attentive and non-intrusive. One hint: They only accept cash for tips, but you can use your card for payment of anything else. With great reluctance, I had to pass on dessert because I was too full from the meal, so now I have another reason to come back. In addition to the café, Fresh Creations is a culinary school with a beautiful kitchen area is in the back. It has partnered with Washoe Innovations High School to offer a culinary program for the students, and with the Anti Cancer Club to offer cooking classes for cancer patients. This is a great addition to the community, so I recommend you come down and enjoy the relaxed setting while you have a gourmet meal.