By Paolo Zialcata
RESTARAUNT REVIEW: Centro
The Place: Reno locals no longer have to take a flight to Barcelona for delicious tapas. Located on California Avenue, Centro Bar & Kitchen lies on the border of Midtown and Downtown. Sundance Books and the Nevada Museum of Art are less than a five-minute walk from Centro, making it a prime location to end a day of activities.
The Vibe: During lunch on a weekday, Centro is laid back and quiet; a perfect environment to sit down and enjoy a nice meal. However, the weekend dinner crowd leaves the restaurant packed and with a long wait to those unfortunate enough to get beaten by the crowds.
The atmosphere can only be described as trendy. There is always music that the casual music fan will never be able to identify. Even the menu is trendy. Most of the ingredients are locally sourced and organic, and the drinks are called “libations” instead of cocktails.
Those sitting inside will have to yell over the bustling of dishes, the loud conversations and the music to talk to their companions. The inside seating is noticeably tight too, so be ready to hear uncomfortable conversations from the next table over. Those seeking a more ambient environment on the weekend will have to brave the Reno weather and sit on their back patio. Luckily, the staff provides heat lamps on a cold night.
The Food: Centro serves tapas style dishes, meaning lower prices for a smaller portion. Prices range from $5.00 to $14.00, depending on how fancy the dish is. Hungry people may not enjoy the Centro experience. The Centro experience comes from the unique flavors, not the portions.
A majority of the menu are predetermined dishes that do not change until the menu does. However, the specialties are their daily dishes, such as their daily tacos and tartine, which change every day. One day the tacos may be a measly chorizo, but the next day may bring escargot tacos.
I started my meal with a $10 cheese plate to hold me over until I can decide what else to get. The plate comes with chef cured meats and mustard, which changes every day. This serving came with three different local kinds of cheese, bruschetta and duck prosciutto. The dish was great, my only complaint being the unproportionate amount of bruschetta to cheese.
The next dish out was the daily tartine. The daily tartine took form as rosemary meatloaf and garlic aioli served on challah bread. It is always hard to take a chance on the daily specials, especially if you are afraid of change. In this case, the surprise was surprisingly lackluster. The flavors were there, but the meatloaf texture was hard to ignore. The plate was redeemed by the bread because gluten is hard to mess up.
These two dishes were joined by the drop pepper bruschetta and the filthy fries. These plates were purchased for cheap stomach fillers, not really for the flavor. They were safe options that would satisfy our stomachs. Some good portions for a good price.
Dessert was the daily fudge. The waitress dropped off a plate with surprisingly large pieces of chocolate fudge with pieces of raspberry and pecan. Again, taking a chance was scary, but worth the risk.
At over $40, the bill was pretty inexpensive when split between three people. I left the restaurant with my wallet full, but my belly not. Centro will leave one of your wallet or your stomach empty, so be ready for that.
Overall, Centro is a great experience for those looking to try new, unique flavors. However, if you are looking for a filling, cheap meal, maybe just go to another restaurant.