Fresco in Salt Lake City

Sunday nights are when I prep for the battle that is the workweek ahead and make sure all my chores are done (hopefully in time for Mad Men).  Mondays are equally business-focused, when my mind is consumed with all work and no play.  And, as you know, that makes for a very dull life.  Allow Fresco to solve that problem.

The sign and the patio are covered in ivy.

Fresco’s sign and the patio are covered in ivy.

Fresco Italian Cafe is the darling Italian restaurant on 15th and 15th in Salt Lake City with the famous ivy-lined patio.  Throughout the summer on Sunday and Monday nights Fresco is serving two small plates made from local ingredients with an optional wine pairing.  The appetizer-sized dishes are perfect to share between a few people and will change each week.

I sipped on a cherry bourbon cocktail.

Sipping on a cherry bourbon cocktail.

Instead of waiting until the usual Friday/Saturday nights to attempt salvation from my workweek, my friend McKenzie and I decided to switch things up with dinner on Monday night on Fresco’s patio.  The best part was that we had the patio to ourselves for most of our dinner.  The food was excellent and the service was relaxed and attentive.

The bright colors foreshadowed the delicious flavor.

The bright colors foreshadowed the delicious flavor.

We ordered the Charred Radishes ($6), the local small plate special, out of pure curiosity.  Toasted with crunchy sunflower seeds, the radishes were topped with a slightly bitter radish-top pesto and drizzled with a hint of slightly citrusy lemon butter dressing.  Absolutely fantastic.  I loved the familiar flavors of pesto with the surprising twist of bitterness from the radish tops instead of basil to replace the usual savoriness.  The optional wine pairing was a Carol Shelton Coquille Blanc ($9).

To give you an idea of the other local small plate special of the evening (which we didn’t order), it was an Arugula Salad ($10) with salmon terrine, arugula pesto, ciappe (Italian olive oil crackers) and poached mustard paired with a Bucklin Old Hill Ranch rose ($7).

A light, refreshing summer take on the classic duo.

A light, refreshing summer take on the classic duo.

McKenzie picked the soup special, a roasted tomato, and salad for her main course. The soup was an updated version of the classic, with Parmesan chips and Parmesan cream to contrast the peppered, tomato base.  The Frisee salad had crispy, tangy fennel, salty pancetta, shaved boiled egg and green onions.  A colorful, flavorful salad perfect for a summer outdoor meal.

Risotto of goat cheese, heirloom carrots and spring onions in a citrus emulsion at Fresco in Salt Lake City.

The risotto was a starburst of carrots and onions.

I picked the Daily Risotto ($17), which consisted of goat cheese, heirloom carrots and spring onions in a citrus emulsion.  It was incredibly rich and savory, but in a comfort food sort of way.  It would have been a good dish to split because it was so much to eat alone and would have contrasted another dish well.

Fresco’s patio is perfect for summer dining.  Break out of your regular routine and try their local small plates on a Sunday or Monday evening.

Go to Fresco for :: Great food, great service, great patio.  Notes ::  Fresco is hidden behind the King’s English bookstore, next to Mazza.  Reservations are available online via their website or through

Fresco Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon

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