Many long-term Reno residents are probably familiar with Scampi Pasta House and Bar’s location, the former Board of Trade. The last time I was in the building was during its stint as Amendment 21, a bar that dismantled the once gorgeous interior and turned it into a frat house basement. Thankfully, Scampi has come along and restored this amazing space to its old glory with dark wood walls, stained concrete floor, hidden nooks and low lighting with a bar along the back. The space definitely has an old Reno feel to it and is absolutely beautiful.
The vibe in Scampi makes you want to have cocktails, so that’s exactly what my friend Brett and I decided to do. The bar has an extensive cocktail menu with unique drinks created by the bartender. Brett went with a martini ($8), and I went with a Scampi Smash ($8) which had bourbon, lavender bitters and ginger beer. I liked my drink, but it was a little heavy on the ginger beer, and I couldn’t taste any bourbon. Also, it took quite a bit of time to get the drinks as the bartender was easily distracted. We decided to have the scampi appetizer ($12), which arrived quickly with five decently sized scampi. They had a nice lemon and garlic flavor, but I felt they were a little plain, a little chewy and a little overpriced.
After we finished our drinks, we were escorted to one of the side dining areas looking out on Virginia Street and were given some menus. The area has been painted all black and is very private but is in need of some additional decorations. The area also seems to funnel the noise from the bar through it, so if it’s loud at the bar, it’s loud there. The menu has a variety of choices with an emphasis on pasta and scampi dishes. We decided to start with the Tuscana salad ($9). I don’t tend to get all excited about salad, but this was so excellent, I would come back just to have another. The arugula was fresh and went well the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and cucumbers. The herb vinaigrette had a perfect tang and didn’t drown the lettuce.
For entrées, Brett went with the clam and mussel linguini ($18), while I went with the filet mignon ($25). Brett liked his dish and commented that they didn’t scrimp on the clams or the mussels. My filet was large and so tender I didn’t even need a steak knife to eat it, as the fork passed through like butter. It was topped with delicious porcini mushrooms and there was almost a cocoa flavor to the filet. The filet was accompanied by a side of zucchini and sundried tomatoes that were excellent as well.
For dessert, we went with the crème brûlée ($6), which to me is just fancy pudding, but who doesn’t like pudding? The crispy sugared layer went nicely with the strawberries on top and had me wishing I hadn’t agreed to share with Brett.
Service throughout was hit and miss. We had about three different people waiting on us and while one waiter, Ross, was on top of it, the other two seemed a little confused about what they should be doing. However, they have only been open a few months, and service issues take time to iron out. Still, everyone was very nice if not entirely efficient. What they have down is the food and a beautiful atmosphere, so it’s a no-brainer to head over and check out Scampi.