Awesome Eating Experience; Incredible Value
I remember way back when Stoneground Italian Kitchen had a pool table in the middle of the dining room. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Stoneground began as a funky eatery with good, not great, fare before undergoing a major overhaul a few years ago. A complete remodel turned the restaurant from funky to fab – it’s a drop-dead gorgeous place to dine now, with a fire pit where the pool table used to be, subdued lighting, lots of snazzy stonework, a beautiful bar area, and a top-notch staff from top to bottom.
One of the smartest moves Stoneground owner Bob McCarthy ever made was in recruiting Justin Shifflett – formerly of Metropolitan and Trio – to be his head chef. That, and spending a small fortune on a new pizza oven and imported Italian pasta machine for making bronze-cut pasta. My wife and I checked in to Stoneground Italian Kitchen this past weekend to scope out their weekly Sunday Supper, and what a delicious time it was.
Each Sunday, Stoneground chucks its regular dinner menu in favor of an all-you-can-eat, family-style Sunday Supper ($24/adults; $15 kids 12 and under). I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Would we be dining at a communal table, sharing food with strangers? Nope. That’s not how it works. There’s regular seating – we had a nice, comfy booth for two. And, servers rotate throughout the restaurant with offerings of first, bruschetta and salad, then pizzas and pasta. It’s a very relaxed and pleasant dining experience – one that you should block out enough time for. To enjoy all of the varied pizzas and such, I’d recommend allowing 90 minutes to two hours – order a nice bottle of wine from Stoneground’s excellent wine list, kick back, and indulge in a dizzying array of fabulous fare.
Dinner begins with a large wooden bowl of lightly dressed green leaf salad for the table, along with bruschetta. I was told that the Sunday Supper menu varies from one week to the next, meaning that if you indulge in Sunday Supper more than once, you’ll usually find something that you hadn’t previously had. The bruschetta on Sunday was hearty, toasted bread topped with avocado mousse and roasted red onion.
Following the salad and bruschetta, pizzas began arriving. I lost count, but by the end of Sunday Supper, I believe we’d been able to try six different Stoneground pizzas, most of which do not appear on the regular menu. The first was a pizza that is a staple of the Stoneground menu: Margherita. This was a flawless Margherita pizza, with a thin, crispy crust, topped with a fresh-tasting pomodoro sauce, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and drizzled with balsamic reduction. Simply put, this was a marvelous Margherita.
I mentioned that Stoneground has a very well-selected wine list, and we thoroughly enjoyed an Italian wine – La Valentina Pecorino Bianco – that was recommended to us by a server named McKenna. I was unfamiliar with this wine, but it was a spot-on choice: a lovely Italian white with tropical fruit flavors, nice acidity, and crushed stone minerality.
I’m happy to report that Stoneground accommodates gluten-free guests such as my wife. They offer gluten-free pasta and asked Faith, my wife, to choose a pizza from the regular menu and they’d prepare it with gluten-free crust. She selected the Ham & Hot Honey pizza, which is capicola ham, mozzarella, blistered broccolini, piquillo pepper, and hot honey. The pizza was delicious – I wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was gluten-free in a blind taste test, and my wife declared it the best gluten-free pizza crust she’s ever tasted, and she’s tried a plethora of them.
Next up was a Fungi pizza – a white pizza with roasted mushrooms from Intermountain Gourmet, goat cheese and truffle oil. I’m not normally a fan of truffle oil because it can be so overpowering, but a light touch, in this case, gave the pizza a subtle, flavorful boost.
I’ve never been a fan of putting pineapple on pizza. In fact, I think I’ve gone so far as to say it should be declared illegal. Chef Shifflett was also anti-pineapple, but for some reason says he decided to roast a clove-studded pineapple in the pizza oven until tender and caramelized, and instructed his team to make use of it. They came up with a capicola ham and pineapple pizza that, I have to admit, was mighty damned tasty. The sweetness of the pineapple provided a counterbalance and contrast to the capicola’s saltiness, resulting in me eating crow vis-a-vis putting pineapple on pizza.
The pasta dish for the evening – remember that it changes each Sunday – was housemade campanelle (cone-shaped pasta with a ruffled edge) with shaved acorn squash, sauteed shallots, garlic, homemade sausage, and fresh basil chiffonade. The pasta was cooked to perfection – just al dente – and the light-tasting sauce allowed the homemade pasta to really shine through. As I mentioned, the kitchen graciously prepared gluten-free pasta for my wife, tossed with the same scrumptious sauce.
But there was still more pizza to come, brought to our table on wooden pizza paddles by two excellent servers: McKenna and Ash. General Manager Joie Bradford and her team make dining at Stoneground a quality, seamless experience.
Probably my favorite pizza during Sunday Supper was a pie with shredded bison short rib meat on it. It was hearty, rustic and completely satisfying. I’d never have thought to put short rib meat on a pizza, but this is something I’ll definitely try at home and would encourage Chef Shifflett to think about including it on the regular Stoneground menu.
One of the more exotic pizzas of the evening was the Bologna: mortadella and green olives with mozzarella and roasted pistachios. It was another reminder of how perfect the pizza crust is at Stoneground. I know that owner Bob McCarthy, Chef Shifflett and their team went through countless hours of experimentation to find the perfect dough blend, cooking temperatures and such to develop the best possible pizza crust: mission accomplished!
But there was still another pizza to be tried – a veggie lovers delight. This one featured a creamy, no-nut and cheese-free pesto, (nice for those who have allergies) with roasted artichokes and tomatoes from Sevillo Fine Foods. It tasted every bit as good as it looked.
With Thanksgiving just behind us, the last thing you probably want to do this weekend is to cook dinner. So, I heartily recommend reserving a spot for Stoneground’s Sunday Supper. It’s such a delightful dining experience and great value that I was a little surprised there weren’t lines outside on Sunday evening, with hungry folks waiting for a table. I certainly know where you’re likely to find me on any given Sunday from here on out.
Culinary quote of the week:
You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six. — Yogi Berra
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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