Taste of Chicago at the corner of First and Lake streets in downtown Reno provides everything I want from a diner and sports bar. Owner Steve Peto manned the bar when I sat down to eat with a friend.
Two pinball machines and Ms. Pac-man will keep you busy when Peto’s Blackhawks aren’t tearing up the rink on the TV above the bar. Shot specials coincide with goals scored by the hockey team and a free shot accompanies a win by the team. If your typical shot has become stale, go for the Malört. This bitter liquor, favorite to Chicagoans, will earn you some stripes in addition to a buzz.
Peto’s menu is robust with all the beloved dishes native to Chicago. Sandwiches, pizza, and fried goodness abound. I recommend the giardiniera (pronounced jar-din-era). The relish has two varieties: mild and hot. Both include nine-day pickled vegetables. The mild includes carrots, cauliflower, celery, sweet peppers, and jalapeño. The hot includes six different hot peppers, carrots, and celery. Giardiniera is tasty on the Italian Beef sandwich and The Beef pizza.
My buddy and I opted for the Chicago Dog, an order of onion rings, and The Beef deep dish pizza with hot giardiniera.
The hot dog was Vienna Beef©. The natural casing provided the snap that all quality dogs have. Each of the fixings was on point: poppy seed bun, mustard, sport peppers, piccalilli relish (sweet and neon green), tomato slices, onion, a dill pickle spear, and a good amount of celery salt on top. This classic hit all the marks.
The onion rings warrant a trip all by themselves. I think we’re all familiar with the “bite test.” An exceptional onion ring requires only one clean bite to get both onion and crunchy batter. Each of the piping hot rings were golden brown, crunchy, and allowed for clean bites. The bronco sauce, made of mayo, Sriracha, and horseradish, will give your rings a creamy kick.
The pizza took 45 minutes to cook, but it was well worth it. The sauce on our pie had a sweet heat and lives atop the cheese and toppings to ensure that the crust maintains its crunch. This method allows the sauce to deepen in flavor while baking. Peto has worked in pizza joints near and far, and his sauce recipe draws from all of them. The cheese on the pie is made from whole milk mozzarella and they aren’t shy about the quantity. The thin-sliced beef and hot giardiniera were tucked in tight beneath the cheese and sauce. The giardiniera gave the pie some satisfying heat.
Many pizza lovers across the world, including in Chicago, view deep dish as more so a tourist attraction than a food staple. At Taste of Chicago, their deep dish is a work of love — not tourist bait. For those of you that cling to thin crust like Jack clinging to the Titanic’s sinking debris, Peto has you covered with Tavern Style pizza. Make no mistake, this is not a New York slice. Rather, it’s a thin-crusted pie laden with cheese that is best eaten without the “New York fold.” Do yourself a favor, though, try the deep dish at least once.
Pay Peto and his crew a visit Monday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. – Close. Scope the menu on their website at http://www.toc-reno.com/. Call 775-971-4462 for pick-up or delivery. The delivery charge is a steal at $3 to $5, location dependent, within a five mile radius.