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Tuesday, July 6, 2010


"Leave everyday life behind and escape into the exquisite beauty of Salt Lake City, Utah's fine dining treasure, Tuscany Restaurant. Located at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains in Holladay Cottonwood, Tuscany Restaurant hosts an enchanting atmosphere that allows you and your guests to immerse yourselves into a true Tuscan landscape. Experience one of the charming Tuscan inspired dining rooms or slip out into the aria fresca on one of three breathtaking patios. 

Take pleasure in an exceptional Italian-American menu paired with a Wine Spectator's Award for Excellence rated wine list for an unforgettable dining experience. Consistently rated one of America's top restaurants and awarded "extraordinary" by the Zagat survey, Tuscany is sure to impress any guest. Private events are easily accommodated and welcome, including business luncheons, seminars, family occasions, or large wedding events. The perfect venue for any occasion, Tuscany looks forward to fulfilling your every request for your next special event."

This year for my birthday Monica decided to take me out to experience some of Utah's fine dining.  After much searching we decided on Tuscany.  It had amazing reviews, not only from costumers, but also from various food critics.  We were excited the entire drive up there.  Monica and I were excited to make a foodie of her little sister, Hannah.  This was to be a night to remember.

Then the horror started.

When we arrived at the restaurant the required valet service was so far behind, that we were all stuck in the street waiting.  Deciding that it wouldn't be wise to miss our reservation, we decided that two of us would walk in, and the third would wait for the car to be valeted.  We walked into the restaurant, and were completely underwhelmed by the atmosphere.  There were large terracotta pots filled with small tacky silk plants, hideous fabric on the chairs, pre-stained linens, large seating benches at the tables (like at McDonald's), awful soft jazz music, and a gaudy ~ness.

After being seated, we began looking through the menu.  A very interesting selection of both new age Italian and American dishes scattered the menu.  While many of the dishes appeared very simplistic in nature, I was still very excited to have my palate tickled.  Though there were only three of us at the table, it took a small accident with a glass to get the waiter to remove the extra place setting.  Despite our apologetic demeanor with the spilled glass, our waiter was rude, annoyed, and completely rude.  After looking at the menu for several minutes, he returned to give us the specials, and then pushed us for our orders.  It seems that giving the specials along with the menu so that they could be considered along with the normal menu items would be far too logical for this establishment.  We ordered our food and waited patiently

Antipasti - 
~ Chef’s Special Bruschetta in two ways 
This is a classic Italian antipasto.  The chef blessed us with two different versions.  One was a very traditional garlic rubbed bruschetta topped with basil and tomato.  The other was a positively delightful herbed cream cheese bruschetta topped with a mixture of tomatillos, zucchini, green squash, garlic and basil.  They were wonderful.
~ Wood Roased Kasseri Cheese served in a Cast Iron Skillet with Fresh Herbs and Toast Points. 
The Kasseri cheese was an interesting dish.  The cheese had a good flavor, but was far to oily.  They obviously had melted it with too much fat, causing the cheese to become very stringy, then as it cooled it solidified into a knife cut-able mass.  Interestingly enough, their version of "toast points" were squares of toast. . . nothing pointy about it.  

Pasta -
~ Chef Seasonal House Made Ravioli
This ravioli was a very interesting dish.  It was filled with several cheeses.  The ravioli dough seemed to be made in house and was a very good dough.  The cheeses that were inside were pretty decent.  However, they didn't utilize a cheese on the more stiff side so when you cut the ravioli it just kinda all melted out.  The mushroom sauce that accompanied had good flavor and added to the pasta.  The presentation however was as uninspiring as they come.  It was very flat, no color variance, no texture variance, no shape variance.  It's basically everything we learn not to do in a dish in the first week of school. 

Secondi Piatti -
Wood-Oven Roasted, Cured Double Center-Cut Pork Chop with Scallion Mashed Potatoes, Balsamic Roasted Red Onions, and Pork Reduction
Surprisingly, this is one of the most well known and praised dishes offered at Tuscany.  I found the dish to be underwhelming.  The pork chop was marinated in molasses for 48 hours before being cooked.  The molasses preparation did near nothing for the meat however.  Sure, it provide some sugar to get a nice caramelization on the meat, but there was no acid to tenderize it so it just ended up being very tough.  It was also cut wildly too thick.  They needed to separate the frenched chops into two individual chops.  In addition, the mashed potatoes were under-seasoned, the balsamic onions were absolutely disgusting, and the sauce was incredibly bland.
~ Wood-Oven Roasted Half Chicken with Garlic-Dijon Butter, Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, and Natural Chicken Jus
This was the horror of all horrors.  When we cut into the chicken, it was completely pink, I mean pink.  Our waiter had conveniently disappeared at this point, so we had to flag down our water boy to get our server back.  He came over prepped with his excuses.  We told him the chicken looked a bit too pink.  He said that it was because of the vein, but that it was definitely cooked through.  We cut open a different spot, still pink.  Another excuse.  Finally Monica said, "Listen, he's a chef and I'm a chef.  This chicken is not done.  We're not dumb."  So, the waiter finally said he'd take it back to the kitchen for us.  Apparently at this establishment they don't believe in the mantra that the customer is always right.  When it came back, he apologized and said that he would buy her dessert.  When we finally got to taste the chicken we found that the meat had absolutely no flavor whatsoever.  The skin had a bit of flavor but was over peppered.  It was quite the let down.  We were absolutely horrified by the way that this was served.  It was unimaginative, undone, under-seasoned, poorly presented, poorly all around culinary disaster.

To add to the drama, the chicken and pork came out a good 5 minutes before the pasta came out.  Therefore it was that awkward moment of deciding between waiting for all the food to arrive and letting it go cold, or the incredibly unmannered idea of eating while one person sits and watches.  Monica insisted that we not wait, so we started only to discover that the chicken was under done, by the time we got the pasta, the chicken was headed back to the chef.  So, luckily we all just decided to share so that we could all eat together.  But let me just say that I absolutely abhor the idea that at a "fine dining" restaurant the chef and wait staff can't get all the food out at the same time.  I mean honestly, Wendy's does it, Denny's does it, The Olive Garden can do it. . . How is it that this simple idea of culinary courtesy has absolutely escaped them?

After our dishes were removed (in an all around sloppy and unprofessional manner) we began the debate of whether or not to get a dessert.  Normally it would have been no question: yes!  But here, we were absolutely nervous about what would hit the table.  Not too mention, we were very put off by the wording of the waiter when he said he would buy us dessert.  It was like he was putting himself out for our benefit.  That surely was not the case.  Things definitely needed to be reworded.  In the midst of our discussion, out pops my birthday Tiramisu. 

Dessert - 
~ Traditional Tiramisu espresso soaked lady fingers with mascarpone cream
The waiter brought this out with a candle and a couple fresh blueberries.  Monica said that if I would take a bite, then they would give it a try too.  I took a bite and then feigned an acknowledgement of its tastiness.  The other two took their bites right as the waiter was filling up our glasses.  Let me just say that it was a priceless moment.  They basically wanted to spew it out of their mouths.  There was gagging, moaning, and lots of wonderfully disgusted faces.  It was hilarious.  We had to drink lots of water just to get it down.  It was clear that the mascarpone used in the dessert was sour or rancid, there was way too much poor quality coffee, and the liqueur left an after taste that it ought not in a well executed Tiramisu.

As we left Monica tried to find the manager to convey our utter disappointment.  Unfortunately, all we could get was our same waiter.  Needless to say, a call was made later on.  There were however two highlights to the evening.  First was the the valet fetched our car very quickly.  Second was the frosty that we got at Wendy's on our way home.  This will forever be one of the worst culinary experiences of my life.


  1. Horrible false advertising.
    Horrible food.
    Horrible experience.

    Fantastic review. Thanks for the informative read :]

  2. oh Lee, I love this post. I have to say, my favorite part is "Listen, he's a chef and I'm a chef. We're not dumb". Love it. Maybe you can come to New York and be a food critic, eh?