Ciao, Reno |

Ciao, Reno

photo by Michael DobsonTorta de Pollo

Some women get movie-star crushes. I get “food crushes.” They’re a bit different in that I’m not exactly infatuated with a person, but with a dish. I fell in love with Mark Ladner’s Veal Saltimbocca at Lupa in New York and Matthew Greenbaum’s fig roasted in port with brillat savarin and candied pecans at Graton’s Underwood Bistro.

But since dining out tends to be a bit more expensive than, say, renting all of George Clooney’s movies, I occasionally subsidize my crushes by working in the restaurant where the food is created. That way I get to enjoy it nightly, for free. So when I went after a serving job based on lettuce cups that paired the crispness of iceberg lettuce, delicately seasoned beef and spicy Sriacha I also met Timothy Herrlein of Frederick’s Bistro in Incline Village.

Herrlein opened Frederick’s with his brother Bryn in 2001 as a tribute to their late father Frederick, who’d always dreamed of opening a family restaurant. Their childhood revolved around food ” and not Hot Pockets and McDonald’s either ” Tim says. Their dad started one of California’s first exotic food and wine import companies in 1979.

“Open up the fridge,” recalls Tim, and “it smelled like a cross between Limburger cheese and bacon.”

Tim followed a path similar to his dad’s after getting a degree in biochemistry from CU Boulder, his desire to become a doctor nipped in the bud by a corpse’s head on the prep table in anatomy class. He left Boulder for San Francisco and started Orbsco ” a wine and oil export business. Tired of the daily grind, Tim enlisted Bryn, a California Culinary Academy graduate, to open a fusion restaurant in the mountains.

The brothers Herrlein moved up to Tahoe and opened Frederick’s in the space formerly occupied by Jack Rabbit Moon.

Bryn left the restaurant after the first year, leaving to work as a personal chef. Tim pressed on, creating dishes that reflected his culinary mentors, chefs Mike LaMonte of Colorado’s Hotel Boulderado and Kamo Yamasaka ” a master chef from Japan.

The food at Frederick’s is pan-Asian fusion with some of Bryn’s French influences lingering in the entrees. The menu changes seasonally, but always includes sashimi and unique sushi rolls. Main dishes are more varied, using the freshest, highest quality ingredients. A current favorite is the natural pork loin stuffed with Gouda and walnuts, finished with a dried-cherry demi-glace.

Knowing the neighborhood-restaurant atmosphere of Fred’s and the cuisine, it might come as quite a surprise to learn that Herrlein’s next restaurant venture is a 200-seat pizzeria and wine bar called Ciao, set to open in Reno mid-May. But Tim calls it a natural progression. His father, a first-generation Austrian-Italian immigrant, loved Northern Italian cuisine, as does Tim and, it appears, a lot of people. Spurred on by the Batali-revolution in New York, Northern Italian-influenced restaurants are popping up all over L.A. and San Francisco.

With Ciao, Tim sees an opportunity to bring that style and quality of cooking to Reno. And, after eating at restaurants like A16 and Delfina in San Francisco, he realized that the thin, airy crusts, fresh mozzarella and tangy sauce of a Neapolitan-style pizza would complement the cured meats, like those handcrafted at Salumi, Armandino Batali’s artisan shop in Seattle, and fine cheeses of the North perfectly. The pizzas at Ciao Pizzeria + Wine Bar will be cooked in a brand-new wood fired oven, infusing the crusts with the flavors of apple wood and walnut and topped with tasty ingredients like house-made salsiccia (a spicy sausage), braised fennel and chili-infused oil.

Mary Young, formerly of Incline’s Cafe 333 and Northern Nevada’s only advanced sommelier and certified wine educator, will preside over the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Ciao will pour more than two-dozen wines by the glass and offer another 150 by the bottle. The list will include lesser-known Italian varietals like Aglianco as well as preeminent vintages from California and the world over. The restaurant’s sweeping wine bar will also double as a retail shop for patrons eager to pair great wines with their culinary adventures at home.

Ciao will also offer entertainment and late-night eats on weekends, a wine club and lots of atmosphere. The building, an old transmission shop just south of Neil Road on South Virginia, is in the final stages of architectural conversion. In the end, it will boast a sun-soaked outdoor patio, three bars, and lots of seating. Perfectly situated for a pre-movie dinner when the new Cineplex opens up, and with prices $7-$27, Ciao will quickly become a Reno hotspot.

I won’t be working at Ciao ” but with my preferred Frederick’s employee status, you can be sure to find me there frequently, snacking on Herrlein’s menu creations and swirling a glass of wine.

For more information about Frederick’s you can visit, and for Ciao, visit

Frederick’s Bistro

907 Tahoe Boulevard

Incline Village, NV

(775) 832-3007

Reservations Recommended

Ciao Pizzeria + Wine Bar

7111 South Virginia Street (South of Neil Road)

Reno, NV 89511

(775) 851-WINE

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