July 03, 2007


We're on vacation in Salt Lake City and looking for dinner options outside of the standard hotel fare.

I've had a jones for Pastitsio since Becke tempted me with her solution to "Presto Pasta."

The in-room "discover Salt Lake City" magazines indicate that Greek food's a popular local commodity.

We turn to our favorite Web 2.0 solution to the munchies: Open Table.

Open Table introduces us to Aristo.

Before we even got to the menu, we knew we had a hit.

The website greets you:

Ok. Here is the story, it’s pretty simple.

>> Browse our full selection of menus.
>> Make your Reservation online with our new Reservations System.
>> Get driving directions from our Contact Us page.
>> Show up the date of your reservation with an empty stomach.
>> We’ll take care of the rest.

Following instructions, we pull up the menu.

Calamari, check.
Pastitsio, check.
And a selection of gyros.


Table for two, 9:00 PM.

And that's what we ordered.

We started with the calamari, which was amazing in its simplicity: tossed in lightly salted flour and flash fried, with a ramekin of marinara for dipping. That's it. Because when you start with the highest quality ingredients and treat them with respect, that's all you need.

John had the gyros with the most amazing "oven roasted potatoes" I've ever encountered. Crispy on the outside. Buttery soft on the inside. And seasoned with a complex blend of herbs and spices that scream GREEK!

I had a Greek salad -- a delightful blend of farm fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives and tangy feta cheese -- followed by the much-anticipated Pastitsio. Oh. My. Gawd. This Greek chef's answer to lasagna combines perfectly seasoned ground beef with tender pasta, smothered lovingly in a creamy cheesy bechamel sauce. It took every ounce of self-restraint I could muster not to lick the plate.

Desserts, we learned, were prepared by the owner's mother from recipes passed down through the generations. Okay, count us in. John chose rice pudding which I can typically take or leave. Unfortunately for him he coerced me into trying it, and I became an instant convert.

We'd been so focused on the food, I'd neglected my camera for almost the entire meal. As I reached for it to photograph the empty plate that carried my baklava, Aristo himself stopped by to introduce himself, clearly pleased that we were delighted with our meal.

Originally from the east coast, Aristo opened his tribute to "the old country" near the University of Utah in 2003 -- and turned it into Salt Lake City Weekly's best Greek Restaurant in a reader poll less than two years later. Why Salt Lake? His family's here. And as his menu illustrates, his heritage and his family's traditions are what matters most.

I think we've found our favorite restaurant in Salt Lake!

Aristo's Greek Restaurant & Cafe
244 South 1300 East, Salt Lake City UT | 801.581.0888

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Elly said...

Everything sounds delicious! I absolutely love pastitsio and just made it the first time myself pretty recently, using some hints from my grandma. Also those oven roasted potatoes are so delicious and REALLY easy to make. You should give them a whirl! :)

Kalyn said...

Interesting. I only ate there once, and it was pretty disappointing. Maybe I should give them another try.

Lis said...

Sounds wonderful! I'm so glad you guys are having a great time. =)


Deborah said...

I live about 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City, and unfortunately, we don't go up often. I really need to, as I know the restaurant selection is so much better there than it is here - mostly chain restaurants here. I'll have to take my husband up for dinner one night!

Tea said...

Mmm, you are making me hungry! I'm sad I didn't know about this place the last time I was in SLC. I love Greek food.

Hope you're having a great trip!

Elle said...

If I ever make it there, now I know where to eat. Everything sounds delicious and authentic.

SteamyKitchen said...

husband used to live in salt lake city...though I think he's been scarred forever in that city. don't think we'll be going to visit any time soon. but JUST IN CASE we do, I'll keep this restaurant in mind.

Kristen said...

Sounds like you have a hit on your hands!
Enjoy the rest of your holiday.