Restaurant Review: Creative Meets Classic at Scelto | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City Weekly
Support the Free Press | Facts matter. Truth matters. Journalism matters
Salt Lake City Weekly has been Utah's source of independent news and in-depth journalism since 1984. Donate today to ensure the legacy continues.

Eat & Drink » Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Review: Creative Meets Classic at Scelto

This Sandy restaurant is full of tasty risks that pay off nicely.


  • Alex Springer

Though Italian restaurants often find themselves on the fancier end of the local dining spectrum, I've sometimes wondered if they rest on their laurels a bit too much. I get that there's nothing quite like an excellent, rich bolognese or a cheesy brick of lasagna, but I think it's rare to see an Italian-inspired restaurant take risks. As the history of Italian-American cuisine has been built on a series of safe—albeit tasty—bets, it's fun when a restaurant like Scelto comes along and shakes things up a bit.

Scelto (pronounced "shell-toe," the Italian word for "chosen") is the brainchild of local real estate investors Waleska Iglesias and Scott Dilley. Noting a lack of fine dining options in the Sandy area, Iglesias and Dilley have successfully created a destination restaurant in Scelto; this is a place you're going to want to check out. When I visited, I was instantly spellbound with the overall vision that Scelto is going for. All that sleek velvet upholstery, modern design aesthetic and immaculate service has still got me swooning.

Having been sold on the face of Scelto's concept, it was time to turn to the menu. Its beat is similar to other Italian spots around town, but items like the seared ahi starter ($19) and the butternut squash salad ($10) give you a glimmer of creativity on display. I started things off with the arancini ($14), as I just can't quit those golden-brown medallions of rice and cheese. I love them for many reasons, but I was a little concerned that they'd be a heavy way to start the meal; arancini tend to be umami bombs, which can be a double-edged sword sometimes.

The arancini at Scelto, however, have been prepared with this in mind. Serving them with a sprinkling of roasted fennel, salt and lemon zest provides plenty of great acid to cut through the mushroom-forward richness. You'll be tempted to just eat the arancini on their own, perhaps using the fennel as a garnish, but your best bet will be to engineer a bite that captures a little bit of everything, so you can truly appreciate the composition of this dish.

Next up was the short rib ($39), which borrows a bit more from France than Italy; its red wine jus evokes a well-prepared beef bourguignon. Of course, that shouldn't deter you from ordering this generous helping of comfort food. The short rib itself is braised to tender perfection; the server will ask if you'd like a serrated steak knife with your meal, but a fork is all you'll need to dive in. It's served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, and the plate is adorned with a few caramelized shallot halves. It's a simple dish that has been gorgeously executed, and it's definitely a standout on the menu.

Moving on to the pasta side of things, I was intrigued by the gnocchi ($27) because it's served with a ragu and a sage cream sauce. Typically, you get one or the other when ordering a pasta dish, so I was eager to see how Scelto would pull this off. The plate arrives with a heaping helping of deep red ragu, topped with homemade gnocchi and then dolloped with the sage cream sauce. It's an unconventional presentation to be sure, but I have to say I was impressed. Based on my experiences at Scelto, their interpretations of classics aren't so rigid as to avoid experimentation—and that's a really good thing.

My biggest gripe with nice Italian restaurants is that the food is usually spectacular for the first few bites, but the final few are diminished by the overall sameness of the dish. This gnocchi at Scelto was not guilty of this crime, because of the variety on display. The addition of pickled onion and crispy fried basil does a lot to help with this, as each bite carries an acidic snap or herbaceous crunch to cut through its richness.

If you're interested in sampling the fruits of Scelto's pizza oven, your best bets are the fig-and-prosciutto-topped Settembrina ($19) or the Cacio E Pepe ($17). Sure, you can get a perfectly serviceable Margharita ($18) here, but the former pair are better examples of the Scelto team's creativity.

Based on my time spent at Scelto, I'd definitely say it's accomplished its mission to be a bastion of culture and fine-dining flair for the Central Sandy community. What makes Scelto special, however, is that it's achieved this goal while also providing so much more than a nice place to eat. The food here is creative and thoughtful while remaining accessible to local diners, and the level of service is top-notch. I could see its success emboldening other restaurateurs to set their sights further South along the Wasatch Front for similar concepts.