Salt Lake Magazine's Dining Awards, organized by the publication's food and dining editor Mary Malouf, are considered the Oscar Awards for the local dining scene. A good share of this year's winners have only been in business a few years, such as Copper Onion, J. Wong's Bistro, Frida Bistro and Pago. But the event also honored veteran restaurateurs, such as Lifetime Achievement Award winner Karen Olson. Her restaurant, Metropolitan, had a stellar 15-year run in downtown Salt Lake City before closing last August. Olson was credited with raising the bar for Utah dining and spearheading what has become the annual Downtown Dine O'Round. "The baton is passed," said Olson. "I will be here in a decade and a half after you put in your 15 years, and we can toast to you as well." Best Restaurant in Salt Lake City (as well as Best Italian Restaurant) went to Fresco Italian Cafe, which has won numerous awards in the past. Amber Billingsley of Vinto was named Best Pastry Chef. Billingsley, who has worked her sweet-tooth magic in a number of Utah restaurants, said, "The main reason I am standing here is because of all the chefs I have worked with in the past who taught and inspired me." Here's the list of award-winners.
About the restaurant: "At Forage, we believe that a great meal is more than just good food and wine and that a great restaurant does more than just satiate hunger. We are committed to taking each dinner on a memorable journey, the kind of experience where no detail is left unattended."
Location: 370 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: "This recent addition to Canyons Resort features an innovative menu that focuses on locally sourced ingredients from farms and artisans within 200 miles of Park City."
Location: 4000 Canyons Resort Dr., Park City
About the restaurant: Fresco’s cozy dining room combines a sense of comfort and simplicity, underscoring what is truly important about the dining experience: great food and great company.
Location:1513 S. 1500 East
About the restaurant: Talisker on Main is Talisker’s first public amenity, a restaurant on historic Main Street Park City, featuring a “Taste of Talisker” and showcasing exceptional design, service excellence and award-winning artisan cuisine.
Location: 515 Main
About the restaurant: Justin Gumm & Krissann Smith are the Owners of Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria. They both have 20+ years of experience in the restaurant industry. They have done everything from manage to dishwash over the years, but most of their experience is front of the house. It's always been a dream of theirs to open & run their own restaurant."
Location: 1895 Washington Blvd., Ogden
About the restaurant: "Pizzeria Seven Twelve grew out of the desire for sustainability. In every sense of the word. Without getting too high up on the soap box we want to change the way restaurants run.
Location: 320 S. State, Ste. 185, Orem
Location: 445 Zion Park Blvd., Springdale
About the restaurant: "At Hell's Backbone Grill, we serve food and drink that reflect our deep commitment to sustainability and intention to be of benefit in the world. Our ingredients are simple and honest: sustainably grown vegetables, herbs and flowers from the restaurant's own no-harm organic farm, and Boulder-raised grass-fed and -finished local lamb."
Location: 20 N. State Highway 12, Boulder
About the restaurant: "Vinto offers wood fired pizza and fresh seasonal Italian cooking with serious attention and detail throughout. It captures the efficiency of a fast casual restaurant with an inspired play on modern Italian style."
Location: 418 E. 200 South, Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: "A premier destination demands a premium patisserie. Modeled after the great European confection houses, La Bonne Vie ("the good life") at the Grand America Hotel invites you and yours to treat yourself well."
Location: Grand America Hotel, 555 S. Main, Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: The Copper Onion, located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, is one of the new additions to the growing Utah “foodie” scene. Former NYC chef (and native Utahn) Ryan Lowder now brings his personal take on New American cuisine to his own kitchen with an approach inspired by his passion for Utah’s outstanding farmstead ingredients and his experience as a chef cooking his way through Barcelona, NYC and South America."
Location: 111 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: "J. Wong's Asian Bistro - named for the four brothers: Jason (the restaurant's lead chef), Josh, Jordan and Jesse, offers dishes from their Chinese and Thai heritage to create some of the best Asian cuisine you will encounter."
Location: 163 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: "At Saffron Valley we take food very seriously, creating great expectations in the Indian food scene of Salt Lake City, where people are constantly asking us about what our next special is. We were thinking long and hard about presenting a special that was truly authentic, good value for money, and left your tongue tingling with a myriad of flavors."
Location: 1098 W. South Jordan Parkway, South Jordan
About the restaurant: "We, at the Naked Fish Japanese Bistro, are dedicated to incorporating sustainable seafood and high quality ingredients that emphasize peak freshness and natural flavors."
Location: 67 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City
About the academy: "The WSET is the largest wine and spirits education and certification program in the world. The Virtual Sommelier's Wine Academy brings a series of service courses, wine education courses, and spirits courses for professionals and enthusiasts alike."
About the restaurant: "Aristo’s restaurant can be described as simple but elegant, offering a taste of authentic Southern Greek cuisine."
Location: 224 S. 1300 East, Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: "Frida Bistro is named after Frida Kahlo, a passionate Mexican artist who expressed herself by painting her life. Her passion for art and life made her one of the pre-eminent luminaries of modern Mexican art in the 20th century. Like Frida Kahlo’s passion for art, our passion at Frida Bistro is food—sophisticated Mexican gastronomy."
Location: 545 W. 700 South, Salt Lake City
About the owner: "Left Fork Grill Owner and Chef Jeff Masten is a 1983 graduate of New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. Jeff was the Chef at the Roof restaurant in the Hotel Utah in the 1980s, Executive Chef of Market St. Grill for eight years and also Executive Chef and Partner at Red Rock Brewing Company, designing the menu and kitchen."
Location: 68 W. 3900 South, Salt Lake City
Location: 180 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: “If you really want to reach for the stars, you must try the fried chicken. It is simply outrageous,
some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten, anywhere” -Ted Scheffler
Location: 1199 Beck St., Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: "Located in an original 1926 brick building on Park City’s historic Main Street, SILVER offers progressive American cuisine and an extensive wine list, a dramatic setting with three levels of distinctive lounge and dining spaces, and a gracious, impeccably-trained staff."
Location: 508 Main, Park City
About the restaurant: "Spencer's for Steaks and Chops of Salt Lake City is the ultimate steakhouse. Featuring USDA prime grade steaks that are aged, hand cut and seared to perfection in our 1600 degrees broiler."
Location: 255 W. West Temple, Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: "The Wild Grape Bistro has now been open for nearly three years. Chef Pete Hines is back to back winner of the 2009 and 2010 Utah’s Top Chef Competition at the Utah Home Show sponsored by Channel 4."
Location: 481 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City
About the Raafati: "Ali Raafati, the hotel’s Ambassador of Special Events at the Garden CafÉ is known to provide the finest hospitality and service in Salt Lake City. He works hand in hand with Executive Chef Phillip Yates and Director of Outlets, Jed Box, to make every meal extraordinary and every event memorable."
Location: 555 S. Main, Salt Lake City
About the restaurant: "Pago is committed to seeking quality products from local farms and local artisans. We feel that the closer we are to the farm, the fresher the food. Getting to know the people who produce the food we eat enriches the local economy and creates meaningful relationships."
Location: 878 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City
About Slow Food Utah: "Slow Food is a global, grassroots movement linking the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment, making the connection from 'Plate to Planet.'"
About the restaurant: "Karen Olson is Metropolitan’s Managing Partner. ... Each night the staff's focus is on the guest's experience. Their genuineness and attention to detail is apparent from the moment you pass thru the glass doors. The environment is hip, warm, and approachable."