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Local Italian favorite closes doors plus other food news

Paolo Celeste (Salt Lake Tribune)

Celeste Ristorante closes

Offered up by many as the best Italian restaurant in the state, Murray’s Celeste Ristorante is sadly no more. With little announcement (at least as far as I can tell), the restaurant quietly shuttered in recent weeks. The rustic Tuscan leaning menu was beloved by many and routinely scooped plaudits during the businesses six year stint. My colleague Heather L. King awarded the restaurant a whopping 3.5 out of 4.0 stars back in her 2018 review of the restaurant in the Trib. No mean feat.

The late Mary Malouf concurred writing, “ravioli incavolati—the menu emphasizes “fresh” and “homemade”—is a plate of delicate half-moons, the ricotta-kale filling showing through the sheer pasta, whole fresh sage leaves scattered on top, a butter bath and a shower of parmigiana—a radical change from the doughy pockets usually served. “

The restaurant was the work of Paolo Celeste, a storied name on the Utah dining scene since 1994. Partnering with Marco Gabrielli, Celeste was one half the magic behind the equally loved Sugar House restaurant, Michelangelo’s. Following Celeste’s closure, the restaurant space has already been turned around – Indian eatery Bombay Palace are now operating out of the strip mall location at 5468 S 900 E.

No word yet on Celeste’s next move if any, but you’ll hear it here first if any news develops. Update: following discussion on our Facebook page, one commenter noted this might not be the end for the talent’s of the kitchen team. Be sure to hit the subscribe button at the top of the page, and we’ll let you know should a possible return arrive.

Featured image credit, Paolo Celeste cooking up a storm, courtesy of the Salt Lake Tribune.

City Weekly best of Utah awards

It’s that time of year again, yep, your social media feeds should now be inundated with overtures for your ballot. So, here’s one more, a humble plea from a fragile ego. This year I’m apparently up for best local columnist in the media category as well as best foodie influencer in the restaurants category. Should you have the inclination and the time – I’d be honored to receive your vote.

Local reviews and write-ups

Looking for a little dining inspiration? Look no further than the latest crop of write-ups from local press. Here’s everything that hit print and online over the past few weeks:

El Cholo building at 2166 South and 900 East (Loopnet)
El Cholo building at 2166 South and 900 East (Loopnet)

El Cholo confirm Fall opening

More than a year has passed since I first previewed the planned arrival of El Cholo to SLC. The 100+ year old SoCal restaurant planned to open in the heart of Sugar House – but updates since then have been scant. News hot off the press this morning from Mountain West Commercial Real Estate reckons the restaurant should be set to open in the coming weeks. Here’s the full press release:

. . .

Mountain West Commercial Real Estate (MWCRE) Agents Stephanie Buranek, Russ Harris, and J.R Moore are proud to announce the long-awaited opening of legendary El Cholo Mexican restaurant to the heart of Salt Lake City’s Sugar House neighborhood this fall. The addition is a landmark collaboration between Landlord and Tenant.

El Cholo, hailed as the first Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, boasts a century-old legacy, celebrated for its signature green corn tamales and Sonora-style enchiladas. Spearheaded by third-generation owner Ron Salisbury, this family-owned restaurant will unveil its seventh location at 2166 South and 900 East in Salt Lake City, opening its doors the last week of September 2023.

“We are thrilled to be part of this historic collaboration that brings together El Cholo’s rich culinary legacy with the vibrant energy of Salt Lake City. It’s not just about business; it’s about creating an enduring connection between tradition and innovation,” said Buranek.

The partnership between MWCRE and El Cholo’s Ron Salisbury symbolizes not only the convergence of business interests but also the fusion of heritage and innovation.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring the flavors and traditions of El Cholo to Salt Lake City, said Salisbury.” El Cholo is a family legacy and sharing it with the vibrant community fills me with boundless excitement and gratitude”.

The restaurant will occupy a 9,000-square-foot space; the Salt Lake City restaurant will mirror its California flagship, featuring roof and patio seating and an identical menu. Stay tuned for an official opening date.

Downtown Alliance creator awards

The Downtown Alliance recently unveiled their 2023 creator awards, recognizing a number of local names – not least two of the best on our dining scene. Check out these videos honoring Ryan Lowder (Copper Onion, Copper Common) and Fred Moesinger (Caffe Molise, BTG). Go ahead and have a quick look, you might see someone you know ;). In all seriousness, hats off to the two stalwarts of the local dining scene. The award for Moesinger and team marks the 30th year for the Italian institution as well as 10 years for BTG Wine Bar.

Vessel Kitchen makes it seven in seven

Via press release

. . .

Vessel Kitchen, a Utah-born restaurant redefining the concept of casual dining across the state, is entering its seventh year of operation with the announcement of its seventh restaurant location slated to open in the Salt Lake City International Airport this fall. This new location will lead the restaurant in a slew of advancements the founders look to implement and explore in the coming year.

Set to debut in Concourse A of the newly remodeled airport, Vessel Kitchen’s seventh location was a multi-year process and feat to land. Competing against nearly 70 other concepts, Vessel ultimately secured the space to bring its local flair alongside reimagined offerings to this global hub. Vessel will reintroduce breakfast into the mix of the restaurant’s usual savory lineup with fresh options that disrupt the traditional breakfast scene for guests on the go. With new local partners such as MilkHoney Yogurt, Slide Ridge Honey and JOJO’s Chocolate on board, curated grab-and-go options and twists on some classic menu items – even long-time Vessel patrons will find something new to enjoy at this location.

“The fact that we have been entrusted with the opportunity to represent the Utah restaurant scene in our beautiful new airport is an absolute honor,” said Nick Gradinger, Co-Founder of Vessel Kitchen. “We’ve been working on this project in some capacity for over four years. To be so close to seeing this dream realized, and to be afforded the opportunity to introduce the Vessel experience to travelers from around the world, is truly surreal. And for it to be so closely aligned with our seventh anniversary makes this that much sweeter.”

Since opening the doors of their flagship location in Park City in 2016, the three founders – Nick Gradinger, Brian Reeder and Roe’e Levy – have sought one thing, to push the envelope of what casual dining looks like in Utah and beyond. The addition of Vessel’s new airport location follows the brand’s recent grand opening of its Station Park location in Farmington earlier this year and the launch of its Test Kitchen outlet in Sandy that doubles as a culinary lab and counter-style storefront offering take-out and delivery. Looking ahead, the Vessel team aims to continue to seek new ways to serve guests through tailored offerings such as meal prep services, drive-throughs, bakery programs and a completely overhauled online ordering and its first custom app platform.

The Vessel Kitchen team has never shied away from change, leaning on their guests’ experience as well as their own dreams to quickly adapt and experiment to bring new offerings to the table each season, living up to their “cuisine-agnostic” approach to business. Guests can be on the lookout as a new fall/winter menu comes down the line, curated to pay homage to Vessel’s roots.

In other news

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