In sad news confirmed this morning, Valter Nassi, impresario of fine dining Italian Valter’s Osteria, has died at the age of 76. I’d wager there aren’t many in Salt Lake City immediately known by their first name alone; any mention of Valter would instantly conjure up the image of the charming, larger than life personality who would greet arriving guests with a warm embrace.
Nassi first arrived in Salt Lake City by way of NYC in the late 1990s. His first restaurant outing in the Beehive state would be Il Sansovino, located in the American Stores Building on Main Street. When the building was eventually sold to Albertson’s, Cucina Toscana was his next port of call. It would remain so for more than a decade with the restaurateur eventually receiving the Downtown Alliance’s Achievement Award in 2013. Fans would flock not only for the food, but for Nassi himself.
By 2013 Nassi had upped sticks and moved to his own digs with the namesake Valter’s Osteria, the restaurant he helmed to his final days. The move saw Nassi transplant his welcoming magnetism into the former home of the Metropolitan restaurant on 300 South.
The Osteria (which means tavern or inn) menu features the Tuscan cuisine of Nassi’s Monte San Savino childhood – a culinary tradition that was showcased throughout his restaurant ventures. For those wanting the complete Osteria experience, a guided multi-course experience was the recommended way to navigate the menu – typically directed by Nassi himself; the selection of dishes was always anchored by a sampling of house made pastas, some of the very best in the city. Table side prep of classic dishes is also a signature of the restaurant’s service style.
In recent years Nassi launched a book titled, “The Magic of The Table” charting his culinary life and travels. Nassi talks about the book and his restaurant on KUTV here; and the volume is still available for purchase via valterofslc.com. Most recently Nassi experienced national recognition when his cameo appearances as congenial host on the Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City became a much loved moment by fans of the show and restaurateur alike.
Valter’s Osteria is now routinely frequented by a who’s who of local and national names. When Covid 19 indelibly changed the restaurant landscape, Valter’s Osteria was one of only three Utah restaurants given the nod for visiting NBA teams ensconced in tight Covid bubbles. Former Utah governor Gary R. Herbert was just one of many who took to online posts to remember the Utah icon.
A celebration of life mass for Valter will be held on November 10th at 6 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Madeline in Salt Lake City. All are welcome to attend. Featured image top of page from Deseret news interview with Valter Nassi in 2014. Read more here.
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with multiple local publications from Visit Salt Lake to Salt Lake Magazine, not least helped to consult on national TV shows.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for the better part of fifteen years. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”. Want to know more? This is why I am the way I am.
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2 thoughts on “Local restaurant legend Valter Nassi dies”
Valter was indeed larger than life. His first restaurant really didn’t fit as part of American Stores Company; but Osteria fit perfectly as one of SLC’s premier restaurants. RIP Valter. You will be missed.
Formerly with American Stores Company
My first meeting with Valter was during our visit to Il Sansovino in 1998. We had the pleasure of dining in his wine cellar located in the basement of the formerly named American Stores Tower. The experience was beautiful.
From that point on, we dined semiannually at his Cucina Toscana location which continued on to Valter’s Osteria.
Each visit was accompanied with Valter’s warmth, his smile and of course, his hugs.
We will always cherish our copy of his wonderful book – the signing of which caused a stir in the restaurant as it was done with wildly entertaining flourishes! Very Valter.
Rest easy Valter. Your work here is complete.