First Bite: Scelto in Sandy

I am admittedly a Salt Lake snob, generally adhering to the principle that anything south of 33rd is “the country.” But I was drawn out of my usual stomping grounds recently by talk around town of a new Italian-inspired restaurant called Scelto in, gasp, Sandy. 

To be clear, there are of course great restaurants down south. The Charleston comes to mind, for example, but the south end of our valley is also littered with chain restaurants leaving its residents high and dry if they’re looking for something that doesn’t come with fries. Scelto has a shot at helping this situation. Unfortunately, in a strip mall, Scelto restaurant’s owners have worked hard against the grain of Sandy commercial real estate options. They called in two of Salt Lake’s eminent pros, Gary Vlasic and Jamie Clyde, to design the space and help us all forget that it previously may have been a martial arts dojo. The resulting restaurant is clearly not a dojo. It is spacious, well appointed and inviting. 

I made my visit with a good friend of mine who does a lot of business in the tech sector and his first thought once we were seated was that he’d offer to meet colleagues here as a midway point instead of his usual trek to Lehi, which is truly a dining wasteland. This is kind of the point of Scelto. Salt Lake is growing fast, especially to the south and there is an opportunity for experienced operators to establish excellence amid the sea of mediocrity. 

Will Scelto succeed? Let’s go to the table. First, the wine list is very Italian, a good sign for a place deeming itself to be inspired by Italy and it has some nice splashes of French as well as the Kendall Jackson Chard, as is required in Utah. On the table, we wandered into seared Ahi (not Italian) and arancini (very Italian) for starters. Always dubious about fish in the desert, the Ahi was fantastic, a nice piece of fish well prepared with no fuss. I always chuckle at arancini, in actual Italy, it’s more of a street food. The fried egg-shaped ball of rice and often meat (but in this case, mushrooms) is always on the table when I see it on a menu. For the salad course, I never pass up a beet salad, and this simply presented plate of arugula, baby beets, pine nuts, fennel and a lemony balsamic ticked that box. For the mains, we stayed firmly in Italy—lasagna and carbonara. The chef, however, did bring out a short rib that was easily better than both. The fall-off-the-bone meat was served with caramelized shallot, mashed potatoes and a lovely red wine jus. The carbonara didn’t dazzle but the lasagna was another story. My friend is well-traveled and considers a lasagna to be the litmus test of any Italian meal. “It’s a simple dish but easy to mess up,” he says. Scelto’s kitchen did not mess it up. The beef ragu had been clearly and appropriately simmered for hours, which is the most important and complex part of a good lasagna. 

Scelto is still working out some bugs like any new endeavor but my first visit showed promise and I’d like to go back and try some of the Italian-inspired corners of the menu.  And, my dinner companion gave it a thumbs up as a good spot to entertain Lehi clients (that spares him the trek into actual Lehi.)

  • What: Scelto, an Italian-inspired restaurant
  • Where: 849 E. 9400 South, Sandy
  • Hours: Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m.
  • Online: and on Instagram @sceltoslc.
Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

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