February 14, 2009


Last night I took Jeni to Lugano Restaurant in Salt Lake City for Valentines Day. This restaurant won the 2008 "Best Italian Restaurant in Salt Lake City" award and the Chef / owner Greg Neville won 2008 "Best Chef" as well. I would have to say it was the best Italian I have ever eaten and the atmosphere was amazing. Located in a small, rustic building just outside of Holladay, the restaurant probably seated less than 100 which made for a very cozy and warm evening. The kitchen was wide open in the center of the restaurant for all to see and Chef Neville made his rounds throughout the night. As you can see from our menu above, they put together a special 5 course meal for Valentines that was excellent.

The amuse (from French amuse-bouche, meaning "to please the mouth") was a Chicken Liver spread with black truffle on a piece of thin bread, topped with caramelized onions. The amuse is a bite-sized hors d'oeuvre chosen by the chef to set the stage for the meal by offering a glimpse into the chef's approach to cooking. And did it ever! Here's what Jeni and I chose for our remaining four courses.

Parmesan/parsley gnocchi with wild mushrooms & porcini cream sauce - These gnocchi were tiny dumplings made from potatoes and flour; the mushrooms were excellent.

Baby spinach salad, sun dried cranberries, feta, red onion, candied walnuts & citrus dressing - A salad we'd had before and it was very flavorful.

Wood oven roasted "angus" flat iron steak, parsnip puree, fresh truffle/cabernet reduction - An interesting cut of the steak so you could actually see how well it was cooked.

Chocolate pot du creme macchiato, "brutti ma buoni" cookie - Mix between a thick chocolate pudding and a thin chocolate brownie, covered in a thick cream and topped with a hazlenut cookie.

Lugano Carpaccio with arugula, shaved grana & mustard aioli - Carpaccio is a very thin, high end raw steak (I know!) and it was covered in greens and topped with shaved cheese, a mustard style dressing and truffle oil - incredible!

Chard/dandelion green filled ravioli, brown sage butter, pine nuts, parmesan - I can now say I've eaten dandelion and it was pretty good, especially with the pine nuts and parmesan.

Grilled organic Scottish salmon, pesto whipped potatoes, caper/chardonnay butter sauce - Maybe the best salmon I've ever had - thick and perfectly moist, and the potatoes were unbelievable.

Flourless chocolate cake with vanilla bean gelato & whipped cream - Denser than I thought it would be and very rich.

Not only was the presentation on everything incredible, but the tastes and textures were so unique and the meal overall was surprisingly very filling! It was wonderful to try a new restaurant, especially one that blew away our expectations like this one did. And, of course, most wonderful to be able to share the night with Jeni, my Valentine.