With the winter holidays and ski season lurking, you may have relatives and friends coming to visit. And since you won’t want to do all the cooking, you’ll likely go out for dinner a time or two.
I frequently get e-mails from out-of-towners asking me to recommend dependable, can’t-miss restaurants. And when I’m asked for Park City dining recommendations, I never hesitate to suggest Bill White restaurants. Over the years, his restaurants—Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso and Windy Ridge—have been about as much of a sure thing as there is. The newest of the bunch—Ghidotti’s—is the one I’ve been to the least.
So, I decided to stop in and see how the place was faring; higher-end restaurants like White’s tend to struggle in tough economic times. But always a step ahead of the competition, White has made adjustments to his menus, and there are good bargains to be found.
When walking into Ghidotti’s, with its 25-foot ceilings, imported marble, chandeliers and all-around classy ambiance, I always feel like I’m at a restaurant in Las Vegas’ Venetian or Bellagio Hotel. It’s certainly a departure from the somewhat tired rustic mountain themes that define so many ski-town eateries.
New, since the last time I visited, is a small lounge area near the bar, where customers can enjoy an informal meal or snack on items like killer meatball sliders ($10.95), delicious fried calamari ($5.95) or one of the excellent pizzas ($7.95). The crusts are among the best I’ve ever encountered: not too thin and not too thick, with a wonderfully satisfying crispy crunch and premium toppings, including the use of Grande cheese over standard mozzarella. The Margherita pizza is exceptional, but I also enjoyed a white pizza with roasted artichokes, spinach and Parmesan cheese. There is one pizza, however, that is not listed on the menu: the Carbonara pizza. It’s (almost) better than sex. And you don’t need a secret handshake to get one; just ask for it. It has just a hint of white sauce (garlic and cream), with crispy chunks of pancetta and a slightly runny poached egg on top. And, in the lounge there are $3 cocktails, $5 wines by the glass and beers—including Squatters’ Hop Rising Double IPA for a mere $2.50.
Ensconced in one of the oversized banquettes in the formal dining room, we were quickly treated to fresh-baked (all the breads at Bill White restaurants are baked at his Windy Ridge Bakery) squares of focaccia served up by a stellar busser named Teo. The bread came with a silky dipping sauce of olive oil, balsamic, rosemary and just a hint of roasted garlic. We then tucked into an antipasto plate ($12.95), which included Humboldt Fog goat cheese, blue cheese, roasted tomatoes, grilled slices of rustic bread, marinated artichoke hearts and olives, see-through thin slices of Creminelli sopresatta and salami, along with house-cured duck “prosciutto.” Some of that delectable duck prosciutto also appears on the aforementioned Carbonara pizza.
Next up, a bowl of hearty chicken soup with Parmesan dumplings ($5.95) tasted rustic and true, like something you’d find in an Italian country home. It’s Bill White’s mother’s recipe, so I’m certain it’s cooked up with lots of love. And how could you not feel love at Ghidotti’s, where Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin and the like are piped in, providing a let’s-fall-in-love sonic backdrop to an already uber-romantic setting.
Adding to the dining pleasure, staffers at White’s restaurants are, to a person, top-notch. Our server, Dryke, was on it. He knew the menu and wine list inside out, appeared mysteriously precisely whenanother splash of wine was required and was entertaining, to boot—thoroughly professional but with just the right amount of friendly rapport. The diners at all his tables seemed to be happy and content, just as we were.
But then, how could I be anything but happy and content with a big plate of osso bucco ($28.95) in front of me? It’s a large pork shank that is braised for a day, until the tender meat all but falls from the bone by itself, topped with a classic pine-nut gremolata. How to improve on that? I’ll tell you: Serve the osso bucco with freshly made potato gnocchi, bathed in the pork’s natural juices, that’s how. I was in heaven.
Just as pleasing as the osso bucco was a lighter dish of jumbo sea scallops ($27.95), seared just until the exterior was nice and browned, but with an almost translucent interior—perfectly cooked—and served with purple and yellow fingerling potatoes, crispy slivers of duck prosciutto and garnished with fresh watercress.
Remember I mentioned bargains? Well, in addition to the economical bar/lounge menu and drinks, Ghidotti’s also hosts $5 Thursdays, where items such as calamari, grilled chicken and penne pasta, farfalle Alfredo, Caesar salad, wine, cocktails and more are all priced at $5. Or, if you’d prefer to eat at home, but without the hassle of cooking, Ghidotti’s offers a family dinner package for $24.95, and it’s a steal. The package includes enough spaghetti & meatballs or lasagna to feed four (more like five or six, in my opinion), with a choice of salad and dressing, plus a loaf of fresh-baked focaccia. The pasta for the spaghetti & meatballs is made in house, as are the housemade meatballs, of course. It’s all ready for takeout within 15 minutes of ordering, assembled in a large shopping bag for easy transport.
Dependable and delicious, Ghidotti’s is a no-brainer for your out-of-town holiday guests, or for any other time.
6030 N. Market St.