Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cucina Toscana

We've been feeling pretty guilty that we haven't blogged about any local Salt Lake City restaurants in so long (and still haven't so much as mentioned some of our favorites). We had every intention of having a nice little list for Sundance visitors to review, but with a packed few months of travel neither our calendar nor our budget afforded us the chance.

With the Sundance Film Festival about a week away we figured we should visit at least one of our local favs and give people something to think about while packing their Sundance starter kit (furry boots, furry hat, and puffy jacket). We made a quick reservation at one of our favorite downtown Salt Lake City restaurants: Cucina Toscana.

Although done in a trattoria style, Cucina Toscana delivers the kind of impeccable service one would expect from a formal dining experience. From the time you check in with the host staff to the moment Valter, the cute Italian owner, sweeps past your table with a rolling "Buona Sera", you are treated like a special guest at a friend's home. Sometimes, Valter and his staff even surprise you with a plate of bruschetta on the house. But my favorite part about Valter is how he always looks stylish and pulled together in his fashionable Italian suits. In a city of climbing pants and fleece, Valter's attention to attire is a breath of fresh air.

Many locals still seem to have the misconception that Cucina Toscana is expensive and a "special occasion" spot. While it is certainly a lovely venue for toasting a birthday or celebrating an anniversary, Cucina Toscana features an extensive menu of affordable standards and more refined specials. A half order of penne arrabbiata will run you a mere $5.95, whereas a fresh risotto of the day may cost upwards of $22. It truly is a menu with something for everyone.

Rosso, Bianco, Verde
J started with the Rosso, Bianco, Verde - $11.50

The crab was succulent and mouth watering. The tomatoes were juicy and sweet, providing a unique contrast to the bitter belgian endive. Truly a smooth way to start the dinner. In fact, the dish prompted J to remark, "You know, crab is really seafood with training wheels."

La Mista Italiana Verdure
Insalate Mista - $6

The staff wheel a little cart out to your table and toss the salad of fresh greens in front of you. The end result is a bountiful plate of greens lightly dressed in their vinagarette and topped with freshly grated cheese. And the price? Fahgettaboutit!

Escolar alla Peperonata
Escolar alla Peperonata - $26

We've been eating a lot of escolar lately, in the way of sushi. This was the first time we've ever tried it cooked. When cooked, the white fish took on a taste and consistency similar to crab. The bell pepper and white wine sauce had a sweet and vibrant flavor. It was amazing.

Gnocchi All Arrabbiata
Gnocchi all Arrabbiata - $18

I am a wimp when it comes to spice but I always get a "kick" out of this zesty dish of handmade gnocchi and spicy tomato sauce. The gnocchi is so delicate; it positively melts in your mouth.

Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir
Corkage of one of our last bottles of Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir: $10

Alas, we had no room for dessert, but if YOU do, we encourage you to try the turkish coffee gelato with a shot of espresso poured over it. You'll feel like you really are in Tuscany, sans the jet lag.

- K

Cucina Toscana

307 West Pierpont Avenue
Salt Lake City, UT
801.328.DINE (3463)

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