Minden couple takes over their favorite restaurant
Minden’s Marcello’s Ristorante & Bar was Cindi and Burr Otto’s favorite restaurant, so much that Burr had begun an internship there with executive chef Douglas Maquoy.
Then news came in early September that Marcello’s owner Robert Humphrey was selling the establishment.
“I’d been sneaking in here on Saturdays for this internship,” said Burr Otto, now a sous chef. “We heard it was for sale, saw the opportunity and bought it, and we brought the entire staff along with us.”
“It was our favorite place, and we didn’t want to see anything happen to it,” added Cindi Otto.
On Friday, the Minden couple was in their new restaurant, renamed Buona Sera Ristorante & Bar, which means good or wonderful evening in Italian.
“My vision for this place is that people come here for dinner, for the soft lighting, candles and flowers, with romance or not,” Cindi explained, “and they wake up in the morning remembering the good time they had here.”
“That’s what we want for our customers,” Burr said. “On Fridays and Saturdays we have a harp player, and it’s very elegant in here. It’s about slow dining. In Italy, restaurants don’t even open till 8 p.m., and then dinner is a 2-3-hour product.”
Last fall, the Ottos spent a month in Italy, including a week-long stay at a culinary school in Tuscany. The trip strengthened their appetite for fine Italian cuisine and added to their experience in the industry.
It also doesn’t hurt that Burr, a retired teacher, was an academic coordinator for the culinary arts program at China Spring Youth Camp.
“I’ve always had a passion for home cooking,” Burr said. “This (the restaurant) has been phenomenal. We love the staff and the clientele.”
“What we got was a beautiful restaurant and the best customer base you could have,” Cindi said. “It boded well for us to have our prices come down a bit and also extended hours.”
Douglas Maquoy, a classically trained pastry chef from Belgium, stayed on from Marcello’s.
“I think we have the best chef in Nevada,” Cindi said.
“All our desserts are made from scratch, made fresh right here,” Burr said. “We’ve tweaked the menu and changed a few things.”
New items include chicken marsala, more seafood pastas, fresh fish of the day, and specials like veal shank and lobster. Old favorites remain like the champagne risotto with saffron shrimp and the house-seasoned ribeye steak topped with dolce latte gorganzola cheese.
Maquoy said he likes any dish with meat, especially if the meat is Chilean sea bass. What he sees flying off the counter more than anything, though, is the restaurant’s portabello appetizer, mushrooms stuffed with roasted fennel, blue cheese, pancetta and ricotta, and his special Belgium fries.
“Everything that comes out of our doors is homemade,” Maquoy said.
However, Buona Sera offers more than fine cuisine. Its ladies night on Wednesdays has become an event where women can network, Cindi said. Popular cocktails include the Sexy Sera, with macerated serrano chile, the Bellini, with white peach puree and Italian champagne, and blood-orange martinis.
On Sunday nights, customers can bring their own bottle of wine, one per table, and have it uncorked for free.
“We also take reservations for holiday parties,” Cindi said.
Buona Sera is located at 1799 Ironwood Drive, Suite B. Dinner hours are 5 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Call 783-3211 for more information or visit http://www.buonaseraminden.com.