Reno’s heart and soul
Luciano’s719 S Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89501
There are a lot of good restaurants in Reno, and while many of them come and go, a few are part of the woodwork. Luciano’s is part of the woodwork. Restaurants like Luciano’s help make this town what it is—unpretentious, casual and down to earth.
When my mom and I walked inside Luciano’s early, we agreed it was a good time to arrive, before the tiny dining room was packed, and the servers were running around. This place reminded me of some of the restaurants I’d been to in North Beach, San Francisco—nothing fancy, just pure Italian heritage, friendly service and good food. The interior walls of Luciano’s are covered with Italian art and have banquettes along them. The small space is used wisely, and it’s quaint and comfy.
The friendly hostess seated us on the banquette. Then our attentive busser brought us our bread and water. The bread was awesome—big slices of ciabatta that had been toasted until slightly crisp. Our server came to our table and began telling us of the menu additions. I wanted to come here because I heard that the gnocchi ($15.95) was made fresh in-house. Gnocchi are little dumplings made out of mashed potatoes, flour, eggs and parmigiano cheese. I knew what I was going to order. There were quite a few menu additions, but the veal scallopines in a porcini mushroom sauce ($23.75) stood out as the best, so my mom ordered that.
We started out with an antipasto appetizer ($11.95). It was the perfect size for two people to share. It was presented with slices of salami and mortadella, accompanied by fontina cheese, marinated peppers, olives and mushrooms with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. With a liter of Pellegrino, the antipasto and some freshly toasted ciabatta bread were the perfect starter.
We’d just barely finished our appetizer, when the entrees arrived. My mom’s veal was served with a scoop of soft polenta, which was cooked perfectly, and some sautéed carrots and squash. The veal itself was delightful. The thin scallopines were sautéed and covered in the porcini mushroom sauce. The whole thing melted as soon as it went in my mouth. My gnocchi was served in a tomato-basil sauce, but it should have been called a garlic-garlic-garlic sauce with garlic, tomatoes and basil. The gnocchi was delicious; it was just a little heavy in the garlic department. My mom enjoyed every bite of the veal, and I liked the gnocchi, even though I think it needed less garlic and more basil. I think that if it says basil on the menu, then you better be able to taste the basil.
Mom and I were talking about whether we wanted to go see a movie, but we definitely wanted dessert. We both ordered the panna cotta ($4.95). I think I found the best panna cotta in Reno. Panna cotta is an eggless custard that’s rich and dense. This one was served with a delicious berry sauce.
Luciano’s is great for a family dinner or a date. You won’t be disappointed by the ambience, service or the panna cotta.