Editor’s Note: The Eldorado Great Italian Festival, which often features dishes from La Strada, is usually hosted in downtown Reno each year in October. It was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we’ve timed this review as a nod to the event.
La Strada is not new to the Reno foodie scene. In fact, the Carano-owned establishment, located in the Eldorado Hotel (also owned by the family), has been racking up awards since the flagship opened in 1982. Among those accolades are Food Network’s 2019 List of the Best Pastas in the Country, several Wine Spectator awards, and countless “Best of Reno” designations. And as the Carano family—yes, the wine giants behind Ferrari-Carano—toasts to new futures (they recently bought out Caesars Entertainment Corp.), we’ll be using their famed eatery as our background for holiday celebrations, as well.
If you ask anyone what to order at La Strada, I’d be shocked not to hear the words Mushroom Ravioli come out of their mouth. The signature dish is perhaps what landed the restaurant on the best pasta list in the first place–pillowy soft raviolis stuffed with soft, creamy mushrooms, offering the perfect umami flavors to tantalize your taste buds.
I, however, would go against the grain and say the best dish I’ve ever devoured at La Strada is the Fried Artichokes “Alla Romana.” The crispy artichoke hearts are deep-fried yet still light. As you bite into each crunchy piece, flavors of garlic, and parsley burst in your mouth. Add a sprinkle of Romano cheese and a lemon aioli dipping sauce, and this appetizer can easily be the star of the show.
For those who love seafood, you can’t go wrong with the Seafood Linguini. This pasta—and remember they are voted amongst the best—is overflowing with sea creatures including clams, mussels, calamari and shrimp, served in your choice of a tomato basil or white wine sauce. If any of the ingredients are running low, it’s easy to substitute in more of another. On our trip the clams and mussels weren’t available, but the chefs quickly doubled the amount of shrimp and calamari to make up for the shortage.
For those shying away from pasta, the Baked “In Cartoccio” Salmon is a solid second choice. First step to ordering this dish is a quick Google search to tell you what “in cartoccio” means, in case you don’t know already (no judgement!). Essentially the salmon comes out in a paper wrapper. The water in the bottom warms the salmon throughout the meal and provides a steam that keeps food moist. This dish is served with Yukon gold potatoes, mixed olives, broccolini roasted tomatoes and charred lemon.
It’s a sin not to finish with dessert. Portion sizes are generous so it’s easy to share one item between two people. I opted for the crème brulee–a soft, creamy, and smooth vanilla bean flavor topped with fresh berries. Perhaps the best I’ve ever had.
Don’t forget to pair each course with wine. Dinners at La Strada are meant to be slow, and enjoyed. Lucky for diners, the Carano family knows a thing or two about vino, which means making your way through the house labels will not disappoint, but neither will venturing into the Italian varietals also on the list. A quick ask of the wait staff will provide all of the information you need to explore this wine region.
In person: 345 N. Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89501
Hours: Sunday & Monday 5 to 9 p.m., Friday & Saturday 5 to 10 p.m.