Dinner on the patio at Centro South may be my new favorite Reno summer activity.
Open to the courtyard where live music plays and cornhole games are aplenty, Centro South provides one of several outdoor seating options in the middle of the action, this one a little further away from the booming trombones and chaos of the life-size chess board.
If you haven’t heard, Centro South is the restaurant’s second location; the opening followed a successful run (that is still going) in Midtown.
The high-end tapas restaurant with an eclectic menu opened its Rancharrah outpost in late 2021, but it didn’t take long for owner and chef Alberto Gazzola to realize his original menu wasn’t working in the new locale.
So, this summer, Centro South completely revamped their offerings, moving from complicated small plates to more modern American cuisine (without losing the Centro flair). The revamp required a staffing change-up as well. The new menu is the brainchild of Geoffrey Caliger, who was executive chef at Liberty Food & Wine Exchange previously.
Today, meals at the eatery include everything from tapas and medium shareable plates to more traditional entrees. The lunch menu is served all day, and boasts an impressive Antipasto board: an expert arrangement of charcuterie, artisan cheeses, toasted crostini, olives, nuts, pickled vegetables and other accouterments. The exact ingredients are likely to change with the seasons and according to availability, but our visit included sweet apricot marmalade, pickled cauliflower, charred asparagus drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette and salmon-topped crostini.
Despite paring down the menu, nothing here is simple. Even the table bread (for an extra charge) is served with a truffle rosemary butter and Maldon salt. Salads play with fresh, local ingredients and bring in unsuspecting extras like the chorizo served with kale, radishes and apples in the R I F I C Salad.
The simplification of the menu, however, is obvious in some of the other entrees, trading out plates of octopus and bone marrow (still available at the Midtown location) for Korean fried chicken and a .44 Magnum burger served with truffle aioli and jalapeño onion jam.
After 5 p.m., the menu expands to include dinner options, as well. A creamy basil pesto gnocchi and tuna tartare are standouts. The lobster roll, served at market price, is modest in size but divine. Presented alongside an au jus and encased in a soft roll, the buttery lobster meat melts in your mouth.
Every meal also comes with a list of specials to accompany the regular menu, including the chef’s seasonal presentation of the heritage pork.
No meal at Centro South is complete without diving into their cocktail list. Even if you don’t drink, there’s a mocktail for you.
I couldn’t help but try the Blackberry Delight, a non-alcoholic berry-flavored soda that wasn’t too sweet and made with lemon and lime.
The cocktails change-up seasonally so you never know for sure what you’ll get but there’s always a little something for everyone from spicy mezcal-based cocktails to more refreshing cordials of gin, heavy on lemons and honey. Plus, of course, a long tap list and plenty of wines.
Depending on the night of the week, the courtyard at Rancharrah has its own happenings that make nights at Centro South even more special. We suggest comparing schedules or heading out on any free night of the week when the weather is nice and kids can run across the lawn while you sip a glass of apricot peach cider in blessed near-silence.