8 new and upcoming restaurants in Reno and Lake Tahoe

Including ramen, Italian and oysters on the terrace

JOHNATHAN L. WRIGHT/RN&R: Finbar in Midtown Reno is the sister restaurant of Finbomb Sushi next door.

These latest dispatches from the local restaurant front range from mountain to valley, from north of the city to Old Southwest, from a seafood boîte to a trio of Italian spots, from a new bar and grill to the slurpy joys of ramen to a place where tacos and tequila play nicely together.

Let’s get right to the tasty.

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FINBAR, 25 Saint Lawrence Ave., 775-300-3375

JOHNATHAN L. WRIGHT/RN&R: A decorative tuna hangs at the entrance to Finbar seafood restaurant in Midtown Reno.

Finbar, open for about two months, occupies a small bungalow next door to Finbomb Sushi, its sister restaurant.

A large plastic tuna strung up like it’s on the dock hangs outside the entrance. Inside, there’s a bit of a French bistro feel, with black-and-white checkerboard floor, richly toned woods, an intimate bar, chalkboard menu items and vintage fixtures. A stone terrace shaded by a pergola offers more seating.

Starters include tuna tartare, shrimp cocktails and oysters on the half shell. Main courses run to crab melts, coconut prawns, peel-and-eat shrimp, seafood Louis (a fine old dish) and black mussels steamed in fragrant red curry. Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

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GAMBI’S, 7665 Town Square way, suite 105, 775-622-4491

JOHNATHAN L. WRIGHT/RN&R: Gambi’s restaurant, an Italian spot in Somersett, is named for a 19th century Italian pirate.

Dave Armstrong, the entrepreneur who owns Gambi’s, also owns Lido Bay Wine, a boutique Northern California winery. Lido Bay labels and wine names celebrate a pirate theme, one taken up by Gambi’s, which is named for a 19th century Italian pirate.

The dining room is composed of red, black and gray, with an open kitchen, skull-patterned wallpaper, nautical images etched into frosted glass partitions, a beamed ceiling, even napkin holders in the shape of a skull.

The wine list showcases Lido Bay pours. The menu showcases Italian standards. Look for lump crab cakes, an oozy burrata salad with snap peas, a truffled cream and duck sausage pizza, chicken marsala and rich lobster ravioli graced with saffron cream (a menu standout).

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THE KITCHEN TABLE, in Plumgate center, 550 W. Plumb Lane, suite A, 775-384-3959

JOHNATHAN L. WRIGHT/RN&R: The Kitchen Table, an Italian restaurant, is going into a space in Plumgate center that has housed several restaurants over the years.

When many folks drive by The Kitchen Table, scheduled to open this fall, they’ll ask themselves: What restaurants used to be here? Off the top of my head: Opa Gourmet Pizza Cuisine, a mom-and-daughter café whose name I can’t recall, House of Bread and Great Harvest Bread Co.

The website already lists an extensive menu. Lunch features rock shrimp fritto misto, say, a chicken Milanese sandwich jabbed with serrano chiles and tagliatelle with Dungeness crab (a dish calling to me).

Dinner? Think frisée and poached egg salad, gnocchi Bolognese, grilled catch of the day, or pinsa, an ancient Roman flatbread (similar to but not the same as pizza) made using wheat, soy and rice flours for an airier crust.  

Update: The team from The Kitchen Table reached out late this afternoon to say they’re focused on the renovation and getting the restaurant open.

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MEXCAL, 210 Silver Lake Road

JOHNATHAN L. WRIGHT/RN&R: A center being built off Red Rock Road, north of Reno, will house a second Mexcal restaurant.

Dennis Banks, a Reno restaurateur and construction company owner, opened Mexcal in Midtown not long after the start of the pandemic in 2020. The restaurant, in the former Fin & Filet, developed a reputation for snacks like charred octopus, tacos like lamb with pickled onions and a big selection of tequilas.

As Banks exclusively shared with Reno News & Review, he’s building an 18,000-square-foot center off Red Rock Road in the North Valleys. The center will include a second Mexcal, about 6,000 square feet, scheduled to open in March.

“In Midtown, we cater to the Midtown crowd. This one will have an expanded menu and be more family oriented,” Banks said.

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OLD SOUTHWEST SOCIAL HOUSE, in Shops at the Village, 1113 California Ave., 775-409-3368

JOHNATHAN L. WRIGHT/RN&R: Old Southwest Social House on California Avenue features a bar with gaming and an expansive menu.

Old Southwest Social House occupies the same storefront where Truckee River Bar ‘N’ Grill flourished for years. The layout is roughly similar — a rectangular bar with gaming, dining stretching off to one side — but Social House is sleeker, featuring a black bar, silver metal tables, brick accents.

The menu casts a wide stance. Like chicken wings, roasted garlic hummus or wine-simmered mussels with crusty bread for sopping up. Or chef and Thai chicken salads. Or a Monterey chicken sandwich (loved the fries in a paper bag), poutine finished with steak and bacon gravy and a plate of the chef’s beef lasagne.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.

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RAMEN BAR, in Circus Circus Reno, 500 N. Sierra St. , 775-329-0711

JOHNATHAN L. WRIGHT/RN&R: Ramen Bar in Circus Circus Reno will serve tonkatsu ramen, shown, and shio chicken ramen.

Reno will soon add to its tangle of ramen with this restaurant replacing the bar at Kanpai Sushi, in the Circus Circus cluster of restaurants. Ivano Centemeri, regional executive chef for Caesars Entertainment Inc., parent of Circus Reno, is developing the concept.

Centemeri has been playing with aromatics to develop the right ramen broth, and with noodle recipes so the strands have the correct chewiness. “You always have to respect and understand the culture the food is coming from,” he said.

The restaurant will serve tonkatsu and shio chicken ramen, with classic noodles or kale noodles. Pork belly for tonkatsu ramen will be made in house. Plans call for Ramen Bar to open sometime this fall, with dinner served Thursday through Monday.

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SAPORI, in Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, 15 U.S. 50, Stateline, 775-588-6611

JOHNATHAN L. WRIGHT/RN&R: Sapori, a 200-seat Italian restaurant, is being renovated in Harrah’s Lake Tahoe from the property’s former buffet.

Sapori, which means “flavors” in Italian, is currently under renovation in Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, part of Caesars Entertainment Inc. that also includes The Row properties in downtown Reno. The restaurant is replacing Forest Buffet on the casino’s 18th floor.

“We did not have an Italian restaurant on property, so we went with Italian,” said Ivano Centemeri, regional executive chef for Caesars Entertainment. “We’re doing good housemade pasta with good appetizers. I want you to have a little time in Italy with the tastes of Italy.”

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WOW WOW LEMONADE STAND, in the Safeway center, 5150 Mae Anne Ave., suite 213, 775-622-9576

JOHNATHAN L. WRIGHT/RN&R: Wow Wow Lemonade Stand, with an outpost in Northwest Reno, is a franchise that started in Hawaii.

This franchise began in 2012 in Hawaii with farmers market appearances and a lemonade trailer. The Reno outpost opened about a month ago in the same Northwest Reno center as Safeway and L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.

The restaurant, not surprising, works an island feel as it sports images of Hawaii, tropical drink shots and a pineapple in sunglasses offering “lots of aloha.”

The menu follows a general juice bar mix increasingly popular in the past decade, with coffees and teas, the craft cocktail versions of lemonade, superfood smoothies, variously constituted açai bowls, and healthy bites, in this case lava salt hummus flatbread and toast swiped with lilikoi (passion fruit) butter.

Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink writer for Reno News & Review. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsJLW or on Facebook personally or at @FoodNevada. Sign up here for the Reno News & Review free weekly newsletter highlighting our most recent stories.

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