Renzo’s Ristorante: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Scuttlebutt around town was cautious at best.

When a new guy shows up in a small North Carolina mountain town wearing pastel Miami suits, people take notice. When he somehow gets approval for new windows to be cut into a historic building, people start talking. When he installs hot pink, oval-backed, velour-upholstered chairs and Disneyish decor, heads start shaking. Consensus: he’ll never make it.

Renzo’s opened with little fanfare and folks began trickling in. Friends and I joked about who was going to go first and “take one for the team”.

Gradually word spread. Renzo himself is a bit of a character, but the food’s good!

Gradually word spread. Renzo himself is a bit of a character, but the food’s good!

Two friends who had braved the pink and wanted to go back for more convinced me to join them.

To my utter surprise, the space felt light, clean, and not as frou-frou as expected – even with the rainbow sparkle light pointed at the ceiling near the bar. I’m not even sure “kitchy” is applicable. Yes, a flat screen TV mounted over the door shows an Italian countryside and vista loop. And there’s a raised-platform booth with “Romeo & Juliet” signage. But somehow it works.

There has been some smart remodeling of the kitchen and service stations. Good pass through window on the side of the kitchen as well as a good-sized station along the wall. There are shelves. Not just trays on legs.

They were totally booked the night we went. Upstairs and down. About 40 downstairs and 3 large parties upstairs.

The following is taken from the email I sent to foodie friends, reporting back that not only did I take one for the team, there was no need to be afraid. I loved the food, they should go, and I’d go back with them.

I had:

  • House Salad Mixed baby greens with Renzo’s house dressing – $7

Renzo's Ristorante

  • Fettuccine Alla Bolognese Handmade fettuccine with bolognese sauce – $15

Renzo's Ristorante

​The salad was okay. Spring mix, with Cherry Tomato halves, a few carrot shavings, olives, radish slices, and grated Parmesan. The Fettuccine was pretty good and had a  generous amount of meat.

My friends both got:

  • Beef Carpaccio Thin slices of beef tenderloin topped with shaved Parmigiano and arugula. Garnished with a half-nested lemon – $12

The lemons are served with a net over them so you can squeeze the juice and not get seeds.

Renzo's Ristorante

  • Risotto Al Funghi Porcini Risotto with italian mushrooms – $16

Renzo's Ristorante

​The Carpaccio was gorgeous AND delicious. The Risotto was nicely cooked with deep mushroom flavor and lots of mushroom slices. Not sure if he does it normally, but Cat cajoled Renzo into drizzling some Truffle Oil on her Risotto.

Funny. Renzo actually did a magic trick at our table. He doesn’t do that at all the tables. He said to one friend, “you want to bet you can break a toothpick and I’ll show you it’s not broken”? She said, I’ll bet you a free dessert. She lost, but he gave her a business card that said free dessert – good for 15 days. We used it right then.

We shared Flan and a Napoleon (loved the cream and want recipe) for dessert.

Renzo's Ristorante

Renzo's Ristorante

The website is drool-worthy with a lot of excellent images in the home page slide show.

It’s about time Hendersonville has another “fine” dining option.

Epicurean Notes:

  • Kudos to Renzo for being the one who finally remodeled the upstairs, transforming it from neglected to a lovely group-dining space.
  • Seating is sturdy and comfortable.
  • What’s with the black light?
  • Owner Renzo Maietto appears to relish working the room. He’s friendly, but a little quirky in my opinion.

Renzo’s Ristorante
502 N Main St
Hendersonville, NC 28792
(828) 551-7766

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