Northern Lites: Shufflin̢۪ north for cheesesteaks, calzones, fish & chips and more. | Wine | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

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Northern Lites: Shufflin̢۪ north for cheesesteaks, calzones, fish & chips and more.

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{::NOAD::}With the advent of UTA’s FrontRunner, it’s easier than ever to explore dining destinations north of Salt Lake City. You know, in exotic locales like Layton, Sunset, Clearfield and South Ogden—places that might not at first glance seem to warrant a special culinary visit. But, as the population of the Wasatch Front sprawls both north and south, so do eateries catering to all those hungry bellies. During recent northerly expeditions, I’ve discovered a handful of (mostly) new cafes and restaurants that merit a visit and a “lite” review, if perhaps not a main-course column.n

Layton’s Burger Stop (323 E. Gentile, Layton, 544-8090, BurgerStop.net) is one of my favorite stops for old-fashioned, honest burgers and shakes, especially during their monthly Cruise Nights when I can drool over all those shiny vintage cars and their immaculate paint jobs. Well, Burger Stop has a new neighbor in Paisano’s Italian Grill (335 E. Gentile, Layton, 544-1100). Paisano’s is a family-owned restaurant specializing in light Italian-American fare like pizzas, calzones, paninis and pastas. The Paisano Panini with salami, grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella, provolone, spinach and roasted red peppers on crisp grilled ciabatta is excellent. A large handmade calzone stuffed with homemade meatballs was also quite tasty, if a tad light on stuffing. You can also try those same meatballs with an order of Pasta Rosa, a plate of rigatoni bathed in a cream-spiked marinara sauce. Service can be numbingly slow, though, at lunchtime.

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Up Interstate 15 in Sunset is a new sandwich shop aptly named The CheeseSteak Deli (2465 N. Main, Sunset, 779-4959, TheCheeseSteakDeli.com), which serves up one of the better cheesesteaks I’ve come across in Utah. The standard cheesesteak here (6-inch, 8-inch or 12-inch) features sautéed thinly sliced steak with onions (optional) and your choice of cheese. Oddly, the menu says “no Whiz”—meaning no Cheez Whiz, a staple of Philly cheesesteaks back east. But, even with provolone or Swiss, this is a darned good steak. The meat is slightly crispier and more charred than a true Philly cheesesteak, possibly due to the oil used to cook the steak and high heat; many Philadelphia cheesesteak makers, for example, use soya oil. When I asked the kid behind the grill at The CheeseSteak Deli what cut of meat they used he said, “I don’t know. It’s just steak.” Close enough; it tasted great.

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Another worthy cheesesteak can be found in Clearfield near Hill Air Force Base at the Philadelphia Sub Shop (189 S. State, Clearfield, 825-2844). As at the aforementioned CheeseSteak Deli, the Philadelphia Sub Shop’s cheesesteaks are a little too crispy and burnt-tasting, but still plenty greasy and with plenty o’ flavor just like the real deal. The owner hails from back east—Delaware, I believe—and has a good sense of what an Eastern Seaboard sandwich oughta be. The cold subs and hot-pastrami sandwich at Philadelphia Sub Shop are also worthy of your consideration.

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In other parts of the country—where booze isn’t quite so taboo—Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Grill (694 W. Antelope Dr., Layton, 779-9088, BostonsGourmet.com) is called Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar. Although the Layton Boston’s is less bar-focused and more family eatery, there is a respectable beer selection including local brews from Bohemian, Park City Brewing, Squatters, Uinta and Wasatch, along with bottles of Guinness, Red Stripe, Landshark, Stella Artois, Sam Adams, Newcastle and more. Boston’s is always jammed on game day, and the army of black-clad servers has a tough time keeping up, so order a brew and chill out with your favorite sport while your rustic, topping-stacked pizza cooks. My Tuscan sirloin steak with rosemary-garlic butter was overdone, but the gigantic Greek salad glistening with extra virgin olive oil and topped with red onion, peppers, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, tomatoes and Feta cheese was up to snuff. The big half-pound Angus Beef Boston Burger on toasted Kaiser bun was a treat, and so was the Mama Meata plate of farfalle pasta with thick, rich Bolognese sauce, diced pepperoni, Italian sausage and meatballs. For those looking for top guns, the bar is often filled with flyboys from Hill AFB’s fighter squads, presumably off-duty.

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A bit south of Boston’s in Layton is Nick & Mandy Island’s Little Taste of Britain (1095 N. Main, Layton, 390-2318), a mom-and-pop fish & chips shop that’ll make you think you’re in soggy, foggy, merry old London town. Big meaty filets of fresh cod are battered and deep-fried until perfectly golden and luscious. Try the fish and chips with a side of pineapple fritters, “mushy” peas or baked beans. There’s also a small market filled with British specialty items—everything from kidney pies and bangers to Union Jack Bermuda shorts.

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Actually, one place does warrant a full review in these pages—and it’s coming, I promise. For now, here’s a little tease about Ogden’s most exciting new dining establishment: Zucca Trattoria (1479 E. 5600 South, South Ogden, 475-7077, MyZucca.com). I’ve long considered Zucca chef/owner Elio Scanu, most recently of Snowbasin Resort, to be one of the most talented guys working in Utah’s restaurant scene. He’s trained and worked in prestigious kitchens around the world such as Galileo in Washington, D.C.; London’s Zafferano; Vivendo Restaurant at the St. Regis Hotel in Rome; and managed the kitchen at his own restaurant, Intermezzo in Venezuela. Now, he has his own place specializing in rustic pizzas from his authentic Valoriani wood-fired pizza oven, along with homemade pastas, fresh fish, grass-fed meats, artisan cheeses and other impeccable delectables. Zucca features seasonal menus with ingredients sourced whenever possible from local growers and purveyors, so, of course, the ’shrooms in Scanu’s wild-mushroom lasagna are hand-picked and the Italian sausage on the pizzas and pastas are homemade. Do you really need a better reason to travel north? tttt

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