Reno has been Nevada’s second-largest gambling city for decades, but at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, the food is second to none. “We don’t just compare ourselves to our local competition,” asserts Chira Pagidi, corporate director of food and beverage. “We compare ourselves to big markets like Las Vegas, New York, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay area. We always want to be the best and raise the standards; we are the leader in the market. Those days of steak and eggs for 99 cents are gone.”
The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa has a variety of venues for cuisine, including eight restaurants and 10 bars. Among them is Atlantis Steakhouse, which serves aged prime cuts and features tableside dining and an array of classic and seasonal cocktails. “We have a number of classic tableside presentations such as Steak Diane, Caesar Salad and Bananas Foster,” Pagidi says.
He encourages chefs to be experimental. “We give a lot of freedom to our chefs to be creative,” Pagidi says. So they came up with a unique tableside offering called 321 Degrees Below. “We make our own ice cream with liquid nitrogen and it flash-freezes,” Pagidi says. “We prepare it in front of the guest and change the flavor weekly. It is only offered in the steakhouse, because our steakhouse is known for tableside preparation.” The ritual can be seen on YouTube.
Another popular fine dining restaurant at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa is Bistro Napa, which is a frequent recipient of the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. The restaurant specializes in creative, seasonal and regional cuisine.
“Our menu changes several times a year,” Pagidi explains. “In the Bistro Napa, we have a small plates concept, which is very popular. We do around 150 covers in two hours and serve appetizers, small plates and cocktails. An 8-ounce wine pour is standard at Bistro Napa, whereas most places offer a 6-ounce wine pour. We focus on value and quality.”
An opportunity for chef creativity to shine is the Spirited Dining series, which is offered monthly and was started over five years ago. “We are very fortunate to have very talented chefs who like to introduce new ideas,” Pagidi emphasizes. “Every event is close to being sold out or is sold out.”
Another venue that is popular with local residents is Toucan Charlie’s Buffet and Grille. “This is the No. 1 buffet in town,” Pagidi asserts. “It holds 600 seats, and we have 120 items on the buffet on any given day.” Live-action stations include Mongolian Barbecue, omelettes and meat carving. For the future, the casino is researching the popularity of its food stations and adding new ones on a trial basis. A buffet redesign is anticipated by next spring.
The Manhattan Deli offers authentic deli fare. “We flew to New York and Chicago and did our homework and research on what the classic deli should be,” Pagidi recalls. “We have authentic favorites like pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, as well as housemade matzo soup, knishes and latkes.”
Other food venues at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa include the Purple Parrot, a 24-hour restaurant specializing in comfort food; Café Alfresco, which offers pasta, wood-fired pizza and housemade gelato; a sports bar serving game-time favorites; and sushi and oyster bars specializing in fresh ocean bounty. “We do 98 percent of our baking in-house,” Pagidi estimates. Besides recycling paper, plastic and other trash, the Atlantis Casino also gives its organic waste such as peels and skins to a company that turns it into compost and sells it as fertilizer to local farmers.
Keeping abreast of current trends and seeking out ways to constantly evolve the menu offerings is a theme that unifies all of the restuarants at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. “We do gluten-free options in every restaurant,” Pagidi says. “We’ll accommodate every guest request for vegan or other dietary needs. A new type of clientele is coming to our casinos with a good, extensive knowledge of food. So that gives us a challenge to exceed their expectations with excellent service and innovative menu offerings.”