Unlikely duo join to create new city diner
For the Nevada Appeal
The owners of Carson City Diner & Catering call themselves an unlikely duo. But as the pair banter back and forth like polished comics, it’s clear that Tony Pastini – a former Chicago policeman, and Robert “Bobby” Genosa ” the former executive chef for Dolce Enoteca e Restaurante at the Grand Sierra Resort ” have come up with a recipe that works.
The new restaurant and catering business, located at the corner of U.S. 395 and Winnie Lane, specializes in traditional diner food ” pastrami sandwiches, corned beef, Chicago-style sausages and hot dogs, hamburgers and breakfast fare. But the owners say their emphasis on authentic food, reasonable prices and hefty servings helps them stand out in the crowd.
“There’s a reason I’ve been in the business for 20 years,” said Pastini, who also owns Kim Lee’s Sushi and Oyster Bar in Carson City. “I never compromise. If you walk out of my restaurants hungry, you’ve got to be a rhinoceros.”
For his part, Genosa is working to make their breakfasts ” which feature a minimum of three extra large eggs ” even bigger.
“Our ‘ultimate breakfast,’ we’re going to take that to another level for the guys that are really hungry,” Genosa said.
Pastini’s first restaurant job was at age 5, at the Chicago restaurant where his mother was the chef. The owner gave him a job polishing the brass stools for a nickel a day, “which was about a billion dollars in 1947,” Pastini said.
When he was 14, he went to work for Vienna Beef as a hot dog wrapper. His wage went up to 50 cents per hour. “It was a union job,” he said.
As an adult, he joined the Chicago Police Department as patrolman, retiring after 21 years. “I loved it,” he said. “I loved my friends, I loved where I lived, I loved Mayor (Richard J.) Daley.”
After retiring from the force, Pastini moved to Northern Nevada and jumped back into the food service industry, first opening Chicago Express in Reno in 1986.
“A couple of cops came by and found out I used to be a cop too, and it became a cop hangout,” Pastini said. “It was good food. Great food.”
Pastini went on to open three additional Chicago Express locations, which sold in the late 1990s after he was diagnosed with cancer. Following his recovery, Pastini jumped back into the business.
Pastini first met Genosa at the Grand Sierra Resort, when Pastini visited the Dolce Enoteca e Restaurante for a food safety inspection (Pastini is also a professional food safety instructor and inspector). When Genosa was downsized from the resort a few months ago, he joined Pastini at Kim Lee’s.
Pastini and Genosa, a Brooklyn native with more than 20 years of professional chef experience, decided to open a catering business. But the kitchen at Kim Lee’s wasn’t large enough to accommodate the sushi and teriyaki restaurant and a catering operation. So the men went in search of a new space.
About five weeks ago, they walked into the Carson Street location, which was operating as a Greek restaurant. The owners were eager to pass the space to Pastini and Genosa.
They’ve been open for a few weeks and already they have big plans for the future.
“Everything’s going to be around Carson City,” Pastini said. “We’re really going to push the catering.”
For now, their focus is on introducing the restaurant to the community and expanding the current menu. Soon, Carson City Diner will roll out a children’s menu that features Apple Jack French Toast, egg-battered bread rolled in crumbled Apple Jack cereal. It’s an unlikely but potentially successful combination, perhaps a bit like Pastini and Genosa themselves.
Carson City Diner & Catering is located at 2000 N. Carson St. in Carson City. Delivery is available within a three-mile radius. Call 841-4449.