To Mark Lentine, chef and owner of the Gardnerville restaurant that bears his family name, culinary creativity is the art he’s practiced for decades. Guests are treated to the taste of authentic Southern Italian cuisine that reflects the Old World Sicilian traditions handed down to him through generations. Lentine’s is a slow food experience with a nod to its owner’s desire to be an innovator who happily spends off hours “coming up with something new and unique,” including unusual gelatos, and entrees featuring his own cured meats and sausage.
Las Vegas born and raised in a family of cooks (his dad invented the crumb donut for Winchells), Lentine is an Army veteran who trained at the Culinary Institute of New York and worked along side famed chefs Mario Batali and Wolfgang Puck where he honed his skills and a keen interest in Italian style farm-to-table dining. His passion for food began at a young age while being mentored in the kitchens of his grandmother and aunt.
While he was growing up, gathering around the table was an extended family ritual. “My grandma believed that good food brings a family together,” he remembered. Seeing those traditions diminishing in our modern, fast-paced culture, he’s always pleased to see people taking time to just relax over a good meal.
“When you come here, we are essentially welcoming you into our home and we want you to be part of our family,” he said.
After operating trattorias in Washington’s Cascade region, Lentine and his wife/business partner Cathy made the decision to move to Carson Valley two years ago to be closer to their children and eight grandchildren, some of whom help out with the family business. In addition to attracting people to the restaurant with a changing menu, the couple are farmer’s market and community event fixtures with a mobile wood-fired pizza oven offering an array of Napolitano-style thin-crusted pies.
The ability to control the quality of ingredients in a recipe is why the Lentines grow many of the herbs used at the restaurant, including the pestos that add fresh-picked basil taste to Italian comfort food, gnocci.
They are located at 1488 Highway 395, Gardnerville. The number is 782-3777.