This is the Place
GREAT Salt Lake Pizza and Pasta
I hadn't been to Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta for at least 10 years, so I thought that I'd give it a whirl. In that time, it has certainly grown in popularity. The place was packed with people ranging in age from college student to grandparents. It was a bit loud, but what did I expect on a Friday night?
Parking is a bit improved, in terms of quantity, but it's a bit removed, requiring that you walk over from behind the Soup Kitchen (two doors north). But what else is new in any of the older areas of Sugar House?
I put my name on the list and was told it would be about 15 minutes to be seated. I considered sitting at the bar, but was pleasantly surprised when I was called up to be seated after only three or four minutes.
Inside, the décor is nice, with high-end tables, and raised booths along the length of the restaurant on both sides. And there are several big-screen TVs, which had the crowd cheering for good and bad play in, of all things, professional rugby. A few tables needed to be wiped down, but the staff appeared to be doing the best they could to keep customers coming in as quickly as possible.
I was a little disappointed at the menu. I expected a bit more, since the place looks like more of a high-end restaurant. But, in the end, I decided to try one of their custom pizzas. (After all, it's Salt Lake Pizza & Pasta.)
The waitress was very pleasant and was able to answer all of my questions, although I was a little distracted by her nose ring. Seemed very out of sorts with how professionally she was behaving. The custom pizzas are priced to include four toppings and you choose the sauce. I love a good, traditional pizza, so I went with the marinara sauce, ham, pepperoni, bacon and mushrooms. Service was pretty fast, although she didn't bring any plates. I asked for some and waited a few minutes before she came to the table, said, "Plates! Oh, yeah!" and rushed off again. When she came back, she apologized and stated the obvious: they're really busy. But she seemed to be genuinely sorry, which was nice.
First words out of my mouth: "Cool. Hand tossed."
The pizza was on a silver pizza dish, and it's irregular shape showed it that was hand tossed. There were plenty of toppings on it, and the waitress offered grated Asiago for the top. Expecting Parmesan, that was a pleasant surprise, and went really well with the pizza.
First words out of my mouth at that first bite: "Oh, yeah."
The flavor was excellent. There was a smoky something from the crust that you only find with the best pizzas, that really gives a great underscore to the flavors of the toppings. The cheese was good and it was, overall, some of the better pizza I've ever had. I took some home with me, which is always good — particularly with pizza — because the best pizza is just as good when it's cold the next day. Which this absolutely was when I had it for a late-night snack the next day.
Most negative thing about the experience was that they had rugby on the TV. If not for one of the girls at the next table explaining the rules to the guy playing host, I wouldn't have been able to understand what was going on at all.
The second visit, like the first, the place was just hopping. It was packed with all ages of patrons, quite a few young parents. Again, a bit loud but, again, what did I expect on a Saturday night?
I put my name on the list and, again, was told it would be about 15 minutes to be seated. Before I even sat down, a group left, and the host said, "Or maybe sooner." And I was seated immediately.
If anything, it was more crowded than the time before, but the staff was doing a better job keeping up with bussing tables. Mine was not only wiped down, but dried off for me before I was seated. (I hate it when I'm seated at a wet table.)
Since last time I did the pizza, this time, I wanted to do the pasta. I hoped for a good ravioli, but the ravioli of the day was butternut squash. I have to have meat in my meal, so that was out. Then another of the specials caught my attention: Asparagus and Prosciutto Rotelli. Pretty much, anytime I find a menu item with prosciutto, I have to get it. As a Sicilian friend of mine likes to say, "Prosciutto is the king of meats!" I wasn't sure about the asparagus but gave it a whirl. Again, service was quick, with a good-sized portion of rotelli (like little pasta wagon wheels), a nice cream sauce, and chunks of prosciutto (rather than the thin slices that you see way too often). My waitress offered grated Asiago again, and it really went well with the pasta.
First words out of my mouth when I took that first bite: "Yeah … I love prosciutto."
The flavor was excellent. There were two fat breadsticks on the edge of the bowl that were good for mopping up the last of the sauce, but really were too bland. The melted cheese over the top didn't add much to the flavor. I asked the waitress what they were, and she immediately asked if I like them or not, because they usually served pastas with garlic bread, and they were just trying this out. So garlic bread yes, cheese sticks no.
As I suspected, the asparagus wasn't the best addition to the meal. It added nothing to the flavor. Even the cream sauce overpowered it. So, unless it was there for texture (it had a nice little crunch), I'm not sure why it was included. If it was there for texture, then the bits should've been half-inch, rather than one inch, for the little crunch to go round a little further.
Most negative thing about the experience: nothing, really. Noisy, but that comes with the territory with a restaurant this busy.
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noun. Slang. A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.