Still, I carry on. That’s because when the planets are aligned just right, on those rare occasions when a restaurant is humming along on all cylinders, when all the ducks are in a row … that’s when a restaurant critic is lucky enough to get his lips around something great like a slice of Settebello pizza, an Acme burger, or Franck’s fantastic fried chicken. I don’t always get to choose where to eat because I’m typically seeking out the next big thing. But on those days and nights when I can dine where I want to dine, here are some of the places you’ll find me.
A SLICE O’ PIE
1. Settebello No, you’re not actually in Naples, it just tastes like it. 260 S. 200 W., 322-3556.
2. Little Italy Pizzeria e Ristorante The pizza here has its roots in Jersey; the secret’s in the Grande cheese they use. 9284 S. 700 E., 255-0363.
3. Café Trio It’s all in the wood-fired oven cooked crust. The Italian sausage pie completely rocks. 680 S. 900 East, 533-8746.
4. Rusted Sun Pizzeria New York-style hand-tossed crust and beer to boot! 2010 S. State, 483-2120.
5. Pie Pizzeria 28,000 U. of U. students can’t be wrong. 1320 E. 200 South, 582-0193.
1. The Paris Duck confit with French lentils and cress. It just doesn’t get any better than that. 1500 S. 1500 East, 486-5585.
2. Pat’s Barbecue I want my babyback, babyback, babyback, babyback … 155 W. Commonwealth, 484-5963.
3. Market Street Oyster Bar Fresh Blue Points on the half shell with tangy mignonette and chilled Chablis. That’ll get ’er done. 54 W. Market St., 531-6044.
4. Franck’s He might be French, but his Southern fried chicken is straight outta Savannah. 6263 S. Holladay Blvd., 274-6264.
5. Indochine Vietnamese Bistro Chef Tuan’s Ha Noi-style pho will warm even the coldest heart. 230 S. 1300 East, 582-0896.
1. The Metropolitan Fresh opakapaka served with bonito broth and heirloom radish. That’s Hawaiian pink snapper to you, pal. 173 W. Broadway, 364-3472.
2. Takashi Ankimo tastes a lot like foie gras. Just try not to think of it as monkfish liver. 18 W. Market St., 519-9595.
3. Acme Burger Company At Acme you can have the Utah ostrich burger your way … if your way means garlic-chile BBQ sauce, Napa cabbage, and shitake ’shrooms. 275 S. 200 W., 257-5700.
4. Martine The only place I know to find grape leaf-wrapped halibut with saffron velouté and fennel-tomato salsa. 22 E. 100 South, 363-9328.
5. Szechuan Garden Ever wonder what happens to all the chicken feet? Here they’re pickled and served with red pepper. Still not as strange as the jelly fish with roasted chili vinaigrette though. 1275 E. 8600 South, 233-0027.
THE BREAKFAST CLUB
1. Over the Counter Café Wanna learn how to cook an omelet? This is the place. The kitchen is smack-dab in the middle of the café, so you can learn the secrets of great French toast, bacon, eggs, and other artery clogging delights. 2343 E. 3300 South, 487-8725.
2. Lamb’s Grill Where else can you find fresh rainbow trout, baby beef liver, and steamed Finnan haddie for breakfast? 169 S. Main, 364-7166.
3. Ruth’s Diner I’ve yet to finish an entire plate of Ruth’s huevos rancheros, which can fuel me for up to a week. 2100 Emigration Canyon, 582-5807.
4. Millcreek Café & Eggworks Two words: chile verde. Get the breakfast wrap smothered in chile verde; go to heaven. 3084 E. 3300 South, 485-1134.
5. Blue Plate Diner Chicken fried steak. That’s all you need to know. 2041 S. 2100 East, 463-1151.
1. Les Madeleines Truly debauched is Romina Rasmussen’s, a killer cake made with Valrhona chocolate and Amaretto. 216 E. 500 South, 355-2294.
2. Cucina Toscana How to end a perfect meal: With Valter Nassi’s gelato and contucci biscuits. 307 W. Pierpont Ave., 328-3463.
3. Pine How about vanilla-bean panna cotta with blood-orange gelee, basil-mint syrup and almond cat tongue? Yep, that’s the stuff. 4760 S. 900 East, 288-2211.
4. Matilda’s The Pavlova is an airy meringue kissed with a ton of cream, pineapple, kiwi, and strawberries. It’s fair dinkum! 9400 S. State, 304-4095.
5. Liberty Heights Fresh It’s the Great Wall of Chocolate: Blanxart, Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, El Rey, Michel Cluizel, and Moderne Bistro, just to name a few. 1290 S. 1100 East, 583-7374.