Skip to content

Utah chef aims to wow locals with this Italian-American specialty

Marcato Kitchen - Kyle Williams (Gastronomic SLC)

When it comes to hand-helds, most are more than well-represented in Utah. Sandwiches, tacos, burgers, you name it – all have their abundance of options. When it comes to the stromboli though, I’m willing to bet you’ve never snagged many in the Beehive. And now you can, not least with bags of flair to boot. That’s the goal of chef Kyle Williams’s nascent Marcato Kitchen.

Williams first moved to Salt Lake City in 2008, a snowboarding-driven adventure, turned intern stint at Viet Pham’s much missed Forage. The formative kitchen posting would prove a solid foundation for the chef, thrown into the deep end of intense and intentional cooking.

More heavy-hitting placements would follow. J&G Grill at Deer Valley’s St. Regis and a half decade at the well-regarded Sushi Blue. Handle, HSL, Hearth & Hill, and the Waldorf Astoria, are all big names on Williams’ stacked resume. It was in the world of corporate cooking though, that the plan for Marcato Kitchen bubbled up. The pivotal inspiration came from working alongside a fellow chef, introducing him to the flexible fun of the stromboli. “It was delicious. I loved the idea of the stromboli, the bread is a blank canvas, you can fill it with so many different ingredients”, Williams told me.

The stromboli then might be a relatively untasted dish for many Utahns. Sharing a lineage with the Italian-borne calzone, the stromboli credits Philadelphia as its birthplace. Both use pizza dough as a base, but diverge when it comes to construction. Where a calzone is pinched into a curve, a stromboli starts life geometrically, rolled to a finish. If it helps your mind’s eye, think of the taco to burrito relationship as an analog.

Williams’s career in high-end kitchens directly informs his approach to this traditionally humble dish. “I had been working on a Neapolitan pizza dough for years. One with long fermentation and organic flours. It was not traditional for a stromboli, but I had it in my mind that the dough had to stand out as much as the flavor combinations inside.”

Putting that noteworthy dough to work, Williams personally crafts every stromboli from scratch. Each pastry is then cooked quickly at high temps. Less than ten minutes are all it takes to render the 72-hour fermented dough into an alluring landscape of blisters and bubbles. Direct from the searing oven the dough sparkles, a first bite revealing a relatively thin crust that gives way to a softer texture under the surface. The contrast is as captivating as the flavors that lurk within. Williams is keen to stress the dish tastes even better the next day, with reheating a cinch. Side note: Marcato Kitchen’s stromboli are hefty ‘ol things, there’s plenty to split with an eager dining companion or next-day treat.

Marcato Kitchen - finished stromboli (Gastronomic SLC)
Marcato Kitchen – finished stromboli (Gastronomic SLC)
Marcato Kitchen - chef Kyle Williams (Gastronomic SLC)
Marcato Kitchen – chef Kyle Williams (Gastronomic SLC)
Marcato Kitchen - banh boli interior (Gastronomic SLC)
Marcato Kitchen – banh boli interior (Gastronomic SLC)

The notion of stromboli made to order would probably elicit cries of confusion from back East according to Williams, where the dish is more commonly served similarly to grabbing a simple slice: point, pick, and go from a premade counter selection. Personally, I think the from-scratch approach works wonders for Marcato – and a glance at the business’s flawless five-star Google reviews – are proof positive that even wary East Coast transplants have been won over in their droves.

My tip would be to start with the banh boli, a superb example of Williams’s thoughtful approach. Here a beef dip collides with classic banh mi flavor somewhere over South Philly, and the result is a beguiling mix of the familiar and new.

Handsomely marbled brisket is braised for fourteen hours and forms the lustrous centerpiece of the show. The banh boli also comes loaded with pickled veggies, mozzarella, bright Fresnos, basil, and hoisin-sriracha – before house-made cilantro chimichurri crowns the masterpiece. On the side, a small portion of pho for dipping – the chef tasking chicken feet to add extra depth to the clarified broth.

It’s fusion cooking of the highest order. A term people often misunderstand, mistaking fusion for a menu of competing cuisines eyeing each other coyly from opposite pages. This is the real deal, a wide-eyed amalgam of existing ideas and inspiration, resulting in the completely original. After all, for Williams, the stromboli is at its heart a sandwich. Why not have the same fun and flexibility?

Chef-driven attention to detail wends its way through the whole menu. There’s no easy-out reliance on faux-meat products in the vegetarian-friendly “cheesesteak” – where meaty oyster and shiitakes team up with a ritzy house-made cheese wiz, fueled by Calabrian chili. Pear-marinated brisket finds its way onto the Korean-informed bulgogi boli, local sausage by Gerome’s Market powers the papa stromboli, while a meatball studded effort keeps things traditional with a mix of giardiniera, pomodoro, provolone, and mozzarella. There’s plenty to swoon over here, and one bite is all it takes for me to become an instant convert to the stromboli.

For now, you can sample these exceptional handhelds at Marcato’s current home base, Square Kitchen (751 W 800 S, Salt Lake City, 84104). It’s largely a grab-and-go spot, but also supports delivery orders through apps such as DoorDash. This is just the beginning for now, and you’d be wise to pay attention. Williams has a variety of ideas – everything from farmer’s markets to retail, to a more traditional brick-and-mortar.

Until then, I’d strongly encourage you to seek out this most creative of recent additions to the Salt Lake dining scene – as well as keeping an eye on the ever-updating specials. Also, join me in crossing fingers and toes that Williams succumbs to my relentless prodding about a Utah-boli. Fry sauce and pastrami anyone?

[This post is sponsored content]

Enjoying our coverage?

  • Become a supporter – for just a few dollars a month you can help us remain free of annoying ads.

Want to keep the conversation going?

  • Food talk group – chew the fat with other likeminded Utah foodies over on Facebook.

Need some dining inspiration?

This article may contain content provided by one of our paid partners. These are some of the best businesses in Utah. For a list of all our current and past relationships see our partnership history page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *