Ghidotti's Italian Restaurant
6030 N. Market, Redstone Village, Kimball Junction ; 435-658-0669
Food and service do not live up to the ornate Venetian decor. Impressive wine list.
Hours: Su-Th, 5-9 p.m.; F-S, 5-10 p.m.
Liquor: Full Service
Recommended Dishes: Tuscan white bean soup, calamari fritti, polenta triangle, sabayon.
April 19, 2006
Ghidotti's in Kimball Junction is a lukewarm experience at best
By Lesli J. Neilson
KIMBALL JUNCTION -- Upon walking into 7-month-old Ghidotti's Italian Restaurant in the Redstone Village at Kimball Junction, I immediately began to expect great things. The grandiose décor, with its Corinthian columns, chandeliers, tasseled drapery and wrought-iron accents, all but hollers, "You are about to have the meal of your life."
Instead, the food, and particularly the service, turned me into a skeptic; the décor that once impressed felt more like an old Caesars Palace restaurant than a new fine dining establishment.
The first warning sign revealed itself when someone arrived with focaccia squares and said, "Let's get some bread in your bellies." Dinner was going to be interesting.
Ghidotti's is the newest restaurant for Bill White Enterprises. (Others include Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso, Windy Ridge Café and Windy Ridge Bakery.) The menu is divided into appetizers, soups, salads, pastas and entrees. There's also a seven-item kids menu.
Appetizer standouts include hearty Tuscan white bean soup ($4.95) and an ample portion of mostly crunchy calamari fritti ($7.95) surrounding a hollowed-out lemon filled with lemon-caper aioli. A just-warm polenta triangle ($7.95) with tomato sauce and pesto layers and resting in a rich mushroom-marsala sauce also succeeds.
Dish temperature turned out to be a systemic problem. An eggplant cake appetizer ($8.95), more napoleon than cake, sandwiched two hot and crunchy eggplant discs between pesto-mascarpone and cold sun-dried tomatoes. Six cooked littleneck clams on the half shell ($9.95), topped with pancetta, spinach, roasted red bell pepper and fontina cheese and sitting in a beurre blanc sauce, were tepid but the flavors intermingled well.
At one drawn-out, 3 1/2-hour dining experience, we could attribute our cold entrees to a breakdown in service. Our food was delivered to a pit stop only to wait several minutes before getting to our table. Veal scaloppine Milanese ($24.95) arrived as two depressing, soggy brown discs; six plump, lukewarm house-made ravioli ($16.95) came nestled in a simplistic marinara; and anemic fennel-seared sea scallops ($25.95) surrounding gluey, unseasoned butternut squash risotto were just plain inedible. (Another visit proved the scallop and risotto dish to be much better, aside from wilted-by-overhead-heat spinach and arugula.) Only the airline chicken breast ($21.95), with the first wing joint still attached, remained juicy despite its delayed arrival to our table.
Other menu items just disappointed.
Gnocchi gratin ($7.95) was a sad specimen of gloppy mozzarella smothering decent gnocchi dressed in that house marinara. Mediterranean calamari salad ($8.95) showed up cold and overdressed, the mixed greens smothered under two cups of a mix of yellow and red bell peppers, red onion, capers, tender calamari and jalapeño. The heat was surprising; what's Mediterranean about a jalapeño?
Another downer, a copious and crispy Caesar salad ($7.95) was underdressed, lacking that classic garlic-anchovy-lemon bite. A salad of red grape halves, Gorgonzola, pears and toasted almonds ($8.95) was beyond chilled and left me thinking the medley had been pre-made and put in the fridge, just waiting to receive a topping of lightly dressed mixed greens before it was served.
Some dishes, however, could succeed with minor adjustments.
Mamma's chicken soup ($4.95) could have used less oregano, unless I got the last of it one evening. An appealing hearts of palm salad ($7.95) was marred by overly acidic dressing. Grilled salmon piccata ($21.95) was overcooked and pan-seared Chilean sea bass ($29.95) was expertly seared and flake-tender, but my better judgment told me to discourage my dining companion from ordering the endangered fish, really a Patagonian toothfish. (Snag a Park Record, Salt Lake City Weekly or upcoming Salt Lake magazine and clip the two-for-one entree coupon.)
Desserts were mainly uninspired. The sabayon ($7), the best of the desserts I sampled, was poured lusciously over strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Other desserts include chocolate mousse torte ($8); cannoli ($8) with Amarena cherries; gelato for two ($13), five indiscernible flavors in house-made waffle cones; grainy tiramisu ($8), though artfully presented in a cup made of chocolate; and an ice cream sandwich ($6), a square of vanilla ice cream encased in dry chocolate-dipped wafer cookies.
Ghidotti's best attribute is its wine list. The restaurant invested in a costly Cruvinet system, which preserves and dispenses wines, allowing the restaurant to offer an entire page of wines by 5-ounce glasses and by 2-ounce "tastes." Only one of several tastes I sampled over the course of two visits was oxidized, but it was quickly changed out. The red-heavy list also has many interesting Italian bottles from lesser-known regions such as Sicily, Apulia, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige.
Service was the most unsettling part of both meals. Rather than the choreography that is supposed to take place -- with plates arriving, being cleared, silverware being replaced, plates being cleared, water glasses being filled throughout -- it was all over the map.
On one visit, at one point there were 15 glasses, many of them empty, for our table of four. Silverware was replaced just once rather than between each of three courses and I was briefly silverware-less for a course on two separate nights. Service was much better on a subsequent visit, but silverware replacement and fulfilling simple requests still were problems.
The substandard service and underwhelming food makes Ghidotti's a place I would not recommend in its current state.
The restaurant is about to debut its spring menu, replacing all but one of the appetizers and trading out several other menu items.
Dish temperatures can be corrected. Proper training is possible. If these two things are remedied, then the next time I dine at Ghidotti's, I won't be compelled to expect a visit from a Keno girl while Ol' Blue Eyes sings a sultry tune over the sound system.
Tribune's rating system
1 star Good
2 stars Very good
3 stars Excellent
4 stars Extraordinary
$ Entree under $10
$$$$ Above $25
1 bell Quiet (under 65 decibles)
2 bells Can talk easily (65-70)
3 bells Talking somewhat difficult (70-75)
4 bells Raised voices (75-80)
A bomb Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)
The Tribune covers the cost of all meals at reviewed restaurants. Star ratings are based on a minimum of two visits. Ratings are updated continually based on at least one revisit. There is no connection between reviews and advertising.