Pianeta Cucina Italiana | 20 Years of Italian Love

Tuscan class. | Courtesy Pianeta

For even occasional visitors to Pianeta in downtown Truckee, the experience of excellence is obvious. The food is crafted by a top-notch kitchen staff led by executive chef Bill Arnoff, who earned his chops at some of California’s finest fine-dining venues. His cooking is creative and classic and he uses market-fresh ingredients.

The owners have created an atmosphere of welcome and hospitality that truly makes guests feel like family.

Co-owners Nicole and Tom Beckering seem to know every guest; they also lead the front of the house staff that delivers fine-dining level service without a whit of pretension. Wines, beers and cocktails match the food to an Italian-T, and the design and ambience bring to mind an elegant Italian villa.

As impressive as all of that is, Pianeta regulars know the real secret sauce served here for the past 20 years has been love and community. The Beckerings and co-owners and founders Robyn Sills and Ed Coleman, have created an atmosphere of welcome and hospitality that truly makes guests feel like family. And, far before it became even a thought in the restaurant industry, they have been committed to their staff by providing a flexible, supportive working environment and a true living wage.

Tiramisu. | Courtesy Pianeta

But enough with the platitudes already, what’s for dinner? We started our repast with caprese salad that arrived with fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, a bright pesto and intense balsamic reduction. Just as artistic was the insalata mista with carrot, cucumber, green onion and radish, on a bed of butter lettuce and spinach with housemade Tuscan vinaigrette and topped with gorgonzola and toasted hazelnuts.

Tom suggested the 2014 Terlano Cuvee Classico, a blend of Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from the mountain vineyards of Alto Adige. Rich and crisp all at once, its bright tree fruits and almond notes danced perfectly with the salads.

Next up, veal meatballs, spinach and pesto surrounding the toothsome tagliatelle pasta. As with all Pianeta pastas, it was fresh and housemade. Tom brought glasses of 2014 Pecchenino Dolcetto bursting with bright red berries and a beam of acidity — perfecto.

Barbaresco heaven. | Courtesy Pianeta

Italy is renowned for meat dishes with sauces and fungi as co-stars. In that spirit, we ordered chicken marsala smothered in Sicilian marsala sauce and mushrooms and bistecca alla modenese topped with balsamic grilled onions and gorgonzola. Sides were orecchiette pasta with the chicken and potato gnocchi and grilled greens with the bistecca.

The best vintage ever for ancient producer Produttori del Barbaresco was 2011. So, when we saw it was available, we ordered it before even salads so it could enjoy a good, restful decanting. We enjoyed roses, licorice, mineral and just a bottle o’ heaven.

We were tempted by the tiramisu but wanting something to match with the Nonino Grappa, we went with lemon panna cotta served with mixed berry coulis.

June marks the restaurant’s 20th anniversary, a perfect month in which to beat the summer crowds. Mange. | pianetarestauranttruckee.com