It’s about effort

Photo By David Robert

There is a lot going on at the Viewcrest Shopping Center, tucked away at Kings Row and McCarran Boulevard in northwest Reno. There’s a major local theater company (Gothic North), two popular bars (The Blue Max and Chewy & Jug’s) and restaurants including Napoli, which has been through several incarnations.

It first opened about two years ago as an Italian restaurant, which my colleague D. Brian Burghart reviewed—and loved. I’d been there a few times, and I also found the food to be to my liking. A couple of months ago, I learned that it had been sold to a new owner, Richard Applegate (aka Mr. Poor), and that it had a new menu. It was time for another review.

RN&R photographer David Robert and I visited Napoli on a recent weeknight. The place has a nice atmosphere, although we were a little stunned by the enormous picture of the lower Manhattan skyline that covers a good portion of one wall. We asked the server if they planned to keep the picture, and she said they did “forever and ever” in memory of what happened. Good for Napoli.

David and I examined the menu. It’s fairly limited, with six Italian entrees, six meat entrees and a handful of seafood, soup and salad options. We ordered the hot artichoke dip ($4.95) for an appetizer. For main courses, I went with the prime rib ($15.95), while David decided on the mushroom ravioli ($9.95).

It was about this time that David, a longtime waiter, noticed a serious restaurant faux pas: The pepper shaker was almost empty, while the salt shaker was only about one-third filled. A quick survey of the room revealed that most of the tables’ shakers were less than half-full. Also, none of the oil lamps on each table were lit. Napoli’s attention to detail obviously needs some work.

Our soups and salads, which came with the meal, arrived quickly, as did some bread. Dave wished his salad had been chilled—it was room temperature—but otherwise he had no problems with it. My French onion soup was tasty and enjoyable. It was one of the meal’s highlights.

The artichoke dip arrived shortly afterward. It looked delicious; presented with eight toasted pieces of bread, I was ready to dive in. One problem: Our server didn’t bring us any plates to eat it with. And we couldn’t use our bread plates, because we didn’t get any. I asked for some plates, and the server quickly complied. The dip itself was quite good, with pieces of artichoke hearts and other ingredients that David and I tried to discern. David complained that the dip could have been a little warmer, but I think he was being overly picky.

The main courses came before we’d finished the dip. David was surprised to see his mushroom ravioli coated in a red meat sauce (although the menu clearly states that’s how it comes)—and he was even more surprised that the combination worked. Neither of us had ever had mushroom ravioli in anything other than a white sauce. But the ravioli, the sauce and the lightly spicy meat pieces blended nicely.

Then there was my prime rib. I hate to say it, but it wasn’t very prime. The cut of meat was lukewarm, and it was very bland. An inch-square piece of hardened fat hung off one end; it should have been trimmed away. To make matters worse, the accompanying Mr. Poor’s potatoes were undercooked and slightly crunchy. I was quite disappointed.

While David passed on dessert, I chose to have a piece of chocolate cake ($3.75). It was solid, but unspectacular.

Napoli has a lot going for it, like its décor, its name and its location. But someone there is not putting forth the effort that a top-notch restaurant needs (like filling the salt and pepper shakers every once in a while). Sadly, it shows.