New restaurant is a family affair
With a dramatic face-lift both inside and out, you’d hardly believe that Zano’s Restaurant used to be the old Pizza Junction building.
“We basically built a brand new building; we gutted everything,” said head chef and part owner Tim Brown.
Like any good Italian restaurant should be, Zano’s is a family affair, and joining Tim in opening the new restaurant is his wife, Dianna, who manages the floor, his brother Bill, who does a little bit of everything around the restaurant and also works as a mortgage broker in town, and Bill’s wife, Tobi, who is in charge of all the restaurant’s financials.
Originally from Chicago, the Browns moved to the Lake Tahoe region 15 years ago and immediately saw the need for an affordable Italian restaurant and pizzeria in the area.
“Where we come from in Chicago, these things are a dime a dozen,” Tim said. “These kind of restaurants, they’ve got bars and are also fun for the family. You feel comfortable going in there with a ball-cap or you can go in there and get nice veal dishes and nice appetizers and good wine. It’s like the best of both worlds.”
Zano’s recent opening fulfills a dream that the Brown family has had for years, Tim said.
“We’ve been looking at the location for probably eight or nine years, Billy and I, and we kept saying ‘We should talk the girls into looking at this thing.’ And what really inspired us was looking at some opportunities in Tahoe City and then realizing that Truckee was the place to be,” Tim said.
After three and a half months of renovations, Zano’s is truly a unique restaurant within the Truckee market. With seating for 140 people, it is much larger than most, and since their opening day on Feb. 20, Zano’s has been averaging approximately 280 dinners a night and serving a busy lunch-time crowd as well.
“The response from the community has been unbelievable,” Dianna said. “People have been coming in to check it out and their first reaction when they walk in has been ‘Wow, this used to be Pizza Junction?'”
Truckee residents’ curiosity has certainly played some role in the restaurant’s early success, but the Browns hope that their prices and entree selection will keep them coming back.
“The price range is between $10 and $16 for entrees, so it’s a good price point for people with families,” Dianna said, adding that they kept the arcade in the back that made Pizza Junction such a hit with local kids.
While the arcade and the basic layout of the restaurant and bar area remain the same, the new owners have added a number of upscale touches such as semi-private dining rooms, hand-painted murals and custom ironwork throughout the dining area, with perhaps the most exciting addition being a new outdoor patio on the restaurant’s south side.
And sure, the new look of Zano’s is great, but it’s really all about the food, right?
Diners at Zano’s will find a menu featuring traditional Italian favorites Ð many of them named after the Browns’ relatives in Chicago. According to Tim, the lasagna and the rock shrimp spinach dip have emerged as signature dishes in the dining room, while take-out pizzas and salads have also been “flying out the door.”
After their successful start, the Browns hope to be able to continue to expand their menu and wine list in the coming weeks and are already laying plans for a catering business starting sometime in the spring.
Currently, Zano’s only takes reservations for large groups. All others are seated on a first-come first-served basis. For more information about Zano’s, see their Web site at http://www.zanos.com or call 587-7411.