The Sierra Sage
Renowned Continental Excellence
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Café at Adele’s is not just one the northern Nevada’s classiest dining destinations; it is a vintage eating institution. Opened in Carson City in 1977, Adele’s founders, Paul and Adele Abowd, created a special combination of gourmet dining with a small country town appeal. Their son, Charlie and his wife Karen, present owners of the restaurant, have retained the quality, charm and spirit, as their virtual family of locals and regulars will attest.
Charlie Abowd is Adele’s owner and the head chef. Sierra Sage publisher, Len Semas, and I were given the opportunity to sample some of Charlie’s creative cuisine recently and we determined that Charlie is more than just a chef; he’s a true culinary artist, with your plate as his canvas. (Actually, Len and his brother, David, have been customers for many years, so that came as no great surprise to him!)
Our “cocktail concierge,” Steve, provided some handcrafted cocktails at the bar while we waited for our table. (Mark, the regular evening bartender had the night off.) I tried the fresh peach sangria which was delightfully sweet and refreshing. Len enjoyed a more pedestrian Scotch. Once we were seated, our server informed us that Charlie had already decided our courses so all we had to do was sit back and indulge!
Our first course was a rich charcuterie and cheese plate consisting of fresh manchego and asiago cheeses, prosciutto ham, sopressata salami, and head cheese. It was colorfully garnished with carrots, beets, and roasted red peppers and served with ciabatta toast points. It was paired with a fabulously fruity Sean Minor pinot noir, which beautifully complemented the cured flavors, and was my favorite of the evening. My “vinotype” (wine preference) tends toward the sweet side and this pinot had just the perfect note for me.
Next, we had a caprese salad made with thick slices of local farmer’s market heirloom tomatoes and Sand Hill Dairy’s fresh mozzarella with a classic balsamic drizzle. The tomatoes were juicy and well textured with abundant flavor. The mozzarella was creamy, fresh, and light. Caprese is one of my favorite salads anyway, and this one is probably the best I have ever had, satisfying but not overfilling. We enjoyed a Zestos Spanish granache wine pairing, which was full-bodied with just enough dryness.
As if the salad wasn’t enough, we also had a deliciously brothy Ukranian borscht filled with beets and onions, paired with a gorgeous mourvedre from David Gerard Vineyards in Placerville. This was my first experience with the mourvedre varietal and I loved it! I’m a huge fan of El Dorado county wines and this one from DGV is no exception.
Our first of two main course selections was a terrifically tender pork chop from world renowned Beeler’s Farm in Iowa. It was topped with a chunky salsa and the spice combination, homegrown in Adele’s backyard pallet garden, created an exquisitely savory taste. The side dishes of whipped potatoes and grilled vegetables were a perfect accompaniment. There was also a bowl of homemade applesauce (cue Brady Bunch reference).
The second dish was Hawaiian style mahi-mahi in a fruity sauce with coconut flakes. I am not typically a fan of mixed savory/sweet flavors, but Mahi is one of those fish that lends itself to some tropical essence without being overpowering. This dish also came with the grilled veggies and was rounded out with mound of couscous. More expert wine pairings included a Krug chardonnay and a 2011 Argentinian malbec from Trapiche Broquel.
I can’t eat more than a bite or two of anything sugary, and neither Len nor I really had room for dessert, but we could not resist trying a bite of each offering. First was a spoonful of the silky banana crème pie in a jar, and the grand finale was the lemon curd and raspberry crepe which was both light and lightly sweet. It was an ideal finish to an exceptional meal, as was the Alpen Sierra coffee.
It's hard to comment on the service except to say that it was every bit as excellent as the dining experience. Need I say more?
Café at Adele’s in Carson City, Nevada: sheer culinary excellence, with a warm Nevada style.
by Len Semas
Cafe' at Adele's
Renowned Continental Excellence
Proprietors: Charlie and Karen Abowd
Address: 112 N. Carson St.
City/St/Zip: Carson City, NV
Type Dining: Fine Dining
Breakfast: 7days / 8a-11:30a M-F, 8a-2:30p Sat-Sun
Lunch: 7 days / 11:30a-2:30p
Dinner: 7 days / 5p-9p Mon-Sat, 4p-8p Sun
Reservations: Recommended for dinner
Price Rating: $ $$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$$
Entrée Range (average): $19.50 - $49.00
Authentic Italian Cuisine
Luciano’s original location was established in the Mid-town area of Virginia St. in 1995, by owners Luciano and Melanie Pilisi. In 2000, it was relocated to the popular and growing south Reno area, on Lakeridge Dr. just off of McCarran. The location in Lakeridge Pointe Shopping Center offers easy access and excellent free parking.
This is classic, old school, casual Italian style; grapevines hanging from the ceiling and decorative wine bottles included! The only things missing are the red Naugahyde booths and flocked wallpaper! Sage publisher Len Semas joined me, and we were seated in the cozy alcove area of the restaurant. The evening we were there had a packed restaurant and bar, and almost EVERYBODY knew everybody else! Definitely a popular spot with the “regulars,” with a distinctly warm “Cheers” ambiance, and a mature, sophisticated-but-casual feel.
Chef Luciano is from Bologna, Italy and trained at the Chef’s School of Italy. Luciano gained his experience working in various high-end restaurants in Italy and France, as well as Veneto’s in San Francisco, Ormsby House in Carson City, and La Strada at the Eldorado Hotel Resort in Reno. His specialty, not surprisingly, is Tortellini Bolognese.
The menu is classic Italian, with an extensive array of Italian dishes, including pastas, meat and seafood entrees, and a varied selection of appetizers and salads.
We started with a delicious Carciofini Fritti (Fried Artichokes) appetizer with aioli dipping sauce. Len had the Veal Marsala and I chose Chicken Saltimbocca. The entrees came with a fresh house salad enhanced by a unique and mild creamy bleu cheese dressing. Oil and vinegar were also available on the table. The accompanying dinner sides included steamed vegetables and a polenta marinara. Both meat dishes were excellent and well portioned. The veggies were soft and flavorful, and I really liked the polenta but I’d substitute for pasta next time.
Excellent service! (I try not to let wait staff know when I’m visiting in order to have the most honest experience possible.) Our server was prompt, friendly, and appropriately attentive at all times. His charming accent fit with setting and made it seem old-country and family style.
As to libations, Len had a tasty, full-bodied BV cabernet and I chose the prosecco, which was crisp, lightly sweet, and bubbly good! We adjourned and completed the evening chatting at the bar with Melanie and the locals. A nice wine selection is offered at reasonable prices, by the bottle or glass.
A hearty Bongiorno for Luciano’s! Melanie hustled behind the bar but remained fun and friendly the whole time, the table service was terrific, and the food was just plain great. I grew up in suburban Philadelphia and cut my culinary teeth on truly authentic, “off the boat” Italian food. Luciano’s is the embodiment of this and I can’t wait to go back!
Proprietors: Luciano & Melanie Pilisi
Address: 6135 Lakeside Dr. #145 (Lakeridge Point Shopping Center)
City/St/Zip: Reno, NV 89511
Type Dining: Fine Dining/Casual Adult/Family
Breakfast Days/Hours: None
Lunch: Tues - Fri 11a - 2p
Dinner Days/Hours: Tues - Sun 5p - 9p
Reservations: Suggested for dinner
Price Rating: $ $$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$$
Entrée Range (average): $15 - $29