We were at Cirinos Main St. recently and though the menu conveys Cirino's being an Italian restaurant, few, if any of our dishes supported that representation. Over a period of two weeks, our party of four ate here on three occasions. We have all traveled to Italy (north and south) and have eaten in Italian restaurants in several major cities including NYC and San Francisco. Though many of the dishes served at Cirinos were hearty and filling, the food was more like American cuisine masquerading as Italian Food. Though we all agreed these dishes had the right ingredients, many of the pastas seemed thrown together with questionable technique as if the ingredients themselves could make the dish without the skill of a seasoned chef. There was little or no hint of garlic in many dishes that should have had garlic or at the very least, garlic-infused olive oil. We'd been told good things about this place so we kept returning but it never seemed to deliver on flavorful dishes in the Italian tradition. We noticed many elderly people in the restaurant and thought maybe Cirinos had tamed the flavors so as to accommodate the large number of elderly clientele. Perhaps Cirinos would be better served positioning themselves as an American bistro -- a more accurate representation of their flavors.
We had much better luck at the Owl (try the stroganoff) and were really impressed with the meals we had at Kane's which, as an Italian restaurant, seemed head and shoulders above Cirino's -- all dishes infused with well-developed Italian flavors. At Kane's however, we had much better luck ordering from the regular menu versus the specials. Kane's simple red sauce is the real thing. If you like traditional Italian flavors and technique, Kane's is the best place we found in Grass Valley, though the service was not the best.
Ironically, on our last day in Grass Valley, my friend and I ate in the bar at Cirino's which has an earthy pub-like ambiance and sports on the TV's (no sound). We kept it simple and ordered burgers, which were outstanding and really flavorful. We also had New England clam chowder which was also really exceptional. That was by far our best meal at Cirino's. With burgers this good, one almost wished there was a larger selection of pub grub like fish 'n chips or calamari fritti with garlic aioli -- good pub food with an Italian theme.
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