Cooking up a new restaurant |

Cooking up a new restaurant

Jerry Massad
For the Nevada Appeal
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Jerry Massad's Frittata with Potatoes, Onions and Roasted Peppers. Massad owns the CrackerBox Restaurant in Carson City.

Our thanks to Linda Marrone, food columnist for the Nevada Appeal for inviting us to contribute to this article.

Definition of a recipe: Directions for making something … a set of instructions that show how to prepare or make something, especially a culinary dish. …

We DID think we had started a long and unpredictable process. But something about the recipe whispered it had to be completed, enjoyed and shared with friends – even those not yet met.

No matter how long and (almost) no matter the cost we were resolved to find the ingredients and finish the dish. We’ve learned a considerable amount since then.

This recipe began preparation in 2005 with the purchase of 30 Pike Street, Old Town Dayton, aka the Old Corner Bar. Built sometime around 1860, the old rock structure at 30 Pike was a mainstay in the Dayton settlement, sheltering food and beverage enterprises from Grocery Store and Mercantile to Wild West Bar (several, actually). By December 2006 we could begin.

The tough little rocker was in fact tiring: stone walls, timber structure and roof remained firmly in place. But after thorough examination, that was about all.

Enter the kind of structural “chefs” we craved: Fred Edmunds and crew of Edmunds Construction cheerfully took on the tasks at hand – problems as yet undefined, solutions yet to be determined. Down went the old interior walls. Gone were the sagging floors and interior missteps of many generations. Goodbye aluminum trailer paint covering rich stone walls. Under hard labor and hammers emerged the handsome bones of good Comstock construction.

Quick sigh, we could proceed.

What to do about the six 12-foot-high doors which had adorned the three front entrances? After years of paint brush assault ending in purple, it was tempting to toss them and start over.

Enter Walt Kunkle of Custom Liquid Stripping, who eyed their tall, slender physiques with something akin to woodworking lust. These beauties turned out to be the originals – probably brought down by wagon from the Tahoe basin in the 1860s, felled from an old-growth tree over 150 years old.

Other ingredients: historic solid mahogany Art Deco front and back bar built in Chicago’s Pullman District in 1933, commissioned by Schlitz Brewing Company and crafted by Brunswick Balke Collender. The Art Deco bar was recently shipped to Dayton in sections from the Chicago “Lucky Lady Pub” and retrofitted with all the necessities of good bar service.

Add Wine Cellar and Grotto Patio to taste – and serve cool for dining and sharing.

The intangibles in this recipe? Delicious sense of community, a texture of caring preparation and the richness of Western history … the great pleasures sharing a good recipe can yield.

J’s Old Town Bistro will open by the end of September.

Ah, the menu. Italian influences with tapas sharing. Little plates and big plates, Italian and American wines with full bar and patio dining. Fresh, delicious food, caringly prepared, efficiently served.

Expect creative pastas, Italian flavors, thin crust Tuscan gourmet pizza and lots of friends.

Brush up on your Italian … bruschette, fritattas, calamari friti, manicotti, lasagna, fettuccine, ravioli. Can’t forget good ol’ meatballs, eggplant, grilled chicken, shrimp and a little beef, too. Moderate prices, good choices.

Jerry Massad’s Frittata with Potatoes, Onions and Roasted Peppers

Serves two as an entree or four as an appetizer

What’s a Frittata? It’s an Italian style omelet. The difference is that you don’t fold a frittata, however they are made in similar ways.

(Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, 15-20 minutes, then drain and dice)

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1Ú2 red onion, diced

• 2 medium red potatoes boiled, drained & cut into a medium dice

• 1 prepared roasted red pepper, thinly sliced

• 1Ú4 cup shredded provolone cheese

• 1Ú4 teaspoon salt

• 1Ú4 teaspoon pepper

• 1 dash hot sauce

• 6 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place an oven rack in the upper third.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch, ovenproof non-stick skillet over medium low heat. Swirl the pan to distribute the oil and add the onions. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes and toss to coat with the oil. Spread the potatoes and onions so that they form an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Now add a layer of the roasted peppers.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the salt, pepper, hot sauce and provolone in a bowl.

Turn the heat up on the skillet to medium and pour in the egg mixture. As the mixture starts to set and the bottom is firm, use a rubber spatula to release the mixture from the side of the pan and gently lift the egg mixture while tilting the pan towards you in order to let the uncooked egg run underneath. Continue this process every 30 seconds or so until the egg on top is no longer runny.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the frittata is set, 2-4 minutes. Remove it from the oven, run a spatula around the edges to loosen the frittata, place an inverted plate on top of the skillet and turn them both over.

There you have it!

You can serve the Frittata hot or at room temperature with a nice green salad for a light summer supper.

• Owners Jerry Massad and Jackolyn Behan are longtime residents of the Carson City /Dayton area.

Jerry Massad has owned and operated the CrackerBox diner in Carson City for 27 years. Jackolyn Behan is owner of, a golf travel company specializing in golf vacation packages for Divine 9 courses and local hotels.