When Don Carano opened Eldorado hotel in 1973, he realized that he did not have the capital to attract top Las Vegas entertainment talent. Instead his vision was “We’ll make the food our Frank Sinatra.” This was quite a departure from casino thinking in those days, and today food is an art form at his Eldorado and its sister properties in Reno.
On my recent visit I was fortunate to have an extensive tour with Food and Beverage Manager Lisa Carano and Executive Chef Ivano Centemeri. We spent the better part of two hours taking a behind-the-scenes look at how Ivano is able to deliver incredibly fresh food among such diverse culinary cuisines. Ivano is most known for the resort’s flagship restaurant, La Strada, which he started. A native of Italy, he still retains his accent and has real passion for his job.
Lisa Carano was a very down-to-earth host with no pretenses, despite being the daughter-in-law of owner Don Carano. In fact, every manager that I came in contact with at the property had the same customer-friendly attitude. This is something you would only find at a family-owned business like Eldorado. Most employees seem to have been with the property for 15-plus years.
To give you an idea of how important food is here, the hotel has its own channel devoted to its restaurants and Ivano’s approach to food. Lisa and Ivano actually have their own show in which they delve into the unique recipes that make the hotel such a food icon.
In my life, I have never tasted such a high-quality array of food under one roof. One could understand the excellent cuisine that Chef Ivano has put together at La Strada. By the way, don’t miss the grilled octopus. It’s good enough for a couple of encores.
Okay, but how can the same chef be responsible for the best sushi I have ever tasted? That is what I was thinking as I dined at Sushi Sake, set adjacent to the hotel’s signature sculpture, the Fountain of Fortune. How can this be in Reno? Turns out it is due to the state-of-the-art procurement process used by Ivano for all of the property’s restaurants. Never is this more apparent than in the quality of the sushi.
Roxy, the anchor restaurant at the Fountain of Fortune, is another fine dining choice you won’t want to miss. The quality of the food and level of service here are equal to the best San Francisco restaurants. All told, the Caranos have more than 20 restaurants at these linked properties. There's something for every palate.
If the name Carano rings a bell to wine enthusiasts, there is a reason. Don and Rhonda Carano are the founders of the award-winning Ferrari-Carano Winery in Sonoma County. During my hotel stay I sampled their chardonnay, fumé blanc, merlot, and cabernet, all with pleasing results. Somehow, having their own wine was a perfect fit for this close-knit albeit large family business.
Eldorado is actually part of three connected hotels, with the Silver Legacy and Circus Circus its siblings. All three are easily accessed through indoor walkways, and together they offer a wide array of lodging choices. Each property has been extensively updated with all the modern comforts.
El Dorado offers high-rise, updated accommodations towering above the Reno skyline and featuring panoramic mountain vistas. The Silver Legacy is more of the resort property, with a rooftop pool, fitness room, and spa. Circus Circus is a family-oriented property, with a large arcade area resembling the best state fair you have ever attended. This new addition is very popular with the youngsters.
Southwest Airlines has some incredibly low fares into Reno out of LAX — as low as $50 each way, upon recent review. Those driving in might want to think about a stopover in the Sacramento area.
Once there, you will appreciate the ease of access into and out of the hotel from the large parking area. Unlike Las Vegas, here you will be in your room within minutes of parking your own car. For complete details, visit ElDoradoReno.com.