Blogs have been flying about the departure of Valter Nassi from Cucina Toscana and Cucina's new sister restaurants Veloce and Caterina. After I wrote mine, based on hearsay and Kathy Stephenson's report, owner Ken Millo sent me the full story about his plans for the Cucina Restaurant Group.

And they're big, ambitious plans. Salt Lake diners have a lot of new eating to look forward to. The Cucina Toscana Group will include four restaurants, including the existing Cucina Toscana, sans longtime impresario Valter Nassi. (Who's air-kissing me now?)

First of all, Veloce (Italian for "fast," duh) will be an Italian rosticceria open for lunch and dinner. According to Millo, there are plans for a "Carpaccio bar (“il Baldacchino”), a crespelle bar (“Love Letters”), gelateria, pasticeria, selected pasta al forno, a large variety of antipasti, signature pizza, and hot and cold panini, all centered around a 12’ wood-fired rosticceria that will produce a broad range of roasted and rotisserie meats, seafood, and sausages, plus a chef-created daily “Cena Veloce” prix fixe family-style dinner menu."



And a full liquor license!

Gotta say it sounds great, if ambitious. (The rosticceria idea alone knocks one of my longtime never-to-be-realized restaurant plans off my bucket list.)

But I'll be curious to see how a carpaccio bar will go–as much sushi as this town downs, we're still a little squeamish; ceviche bars are big in other cities, but not here.

Millo has two big talents, Chef Elio Scanu of South Ogden’s Zucca Trattoria

and Chef Jean Louis Montecot of Jean Louis Restaurant of Park City

as full time directors of Cucina Restaurant Group

Look for Veloce to open for dinner in a week or so and for lunch by mid-August. In September, a second location will open at Salt Lake International Airport.

Another concept, Restaurant Caterina, is an "evolution" of Cucina Nassi, the event center in the old Sugarhouse post office (2155 S. Highland), into a full-scale French restaurant, serving three meals a day with "sidewalk and bistro dining for breakfast and lunch, full service dinner in the evenings indoors and out, and events at any time of the day or night."



Here's an artist's rendering of what the new outside space at Caterina will look like:



And a cool side note: The restaurant is called Caterina after Catherine De Medici, the Florentine who brought Renaissance art and food to France.


One question remains: Vere's Valter? The heart and soul of Cucina Toscana has left Millo's organization to open his own restaurant in the old Metropolitan space.

I'll know more about Valter's Restaurant tomorrow.