A recent sojourn to the American South took us to Spartanburg, S.C. where we enjoyed a marvelous Italian lunch at Renato in Centro.
Clearly, residents in “The Upcountry” of South Carolina are in touch with their Inner Italians. They’ve enjoyed Chef Renato Marmolino’s tastes of Italy in Spartanburg for 24 years. In restaurant terms, that span is several lifetimes.
Seated beneath a leafy canopy on Morgan Square, we started with Scottish salmon that Renato had cured with Sambuca and citrus. The delightful fish plate was garnished with red onion, cherry tomato, and chopped pistachios.
A classic plate of spinach-and-ricotta stuffed eggplant slices bathed in a perfect passato di pomodoro was melt-in-your-mouth good.
We shared two specials-of-the-day: Salad composed of peppery grilled shrimp, arugula, red onion, ripe olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, and the crowning touch—mozzarella from Battipaglia and tender gnocchi with sausage and tomato sauce.
Renato comes from Viareggio on the Tuscan coast where he learned to cook with his mother and grandmother and, in the Italian way, family continues to be important. Wife Stephanie, children Andrea and Gabriella, and mother-in-law Joyce Heitler (who previously shared her Inner Italian story with SimpleItaly) contribute at Renato’s in various capacities.
The interior of Renato in Centro is graced with vibrant paintings and happy patrons. It feels like Italy!