How time flies. It seems like only yesterday that I wrote a lengthy review of a then new, upstart eatery in downtown SLC called From Scratch. But in fact, that was in early 2014. Since then, the restaurant has changed hands and is no longer owned by David Brodsky. I was told at From Scratch that it was now operated by the Wasatch Venture Group, which also runs Corner Bakery Cafe, as well as Johnny O’s Spudnuts and Elements in Logan. I had raved about From Scratch shortly after it opened, and was curious to see how the place was faring under new ownership in a pandemic. So, my wife and I stopped in for a leisurely weekday lunch.
Located on a relatively quiet street without much traffic – E. Gallivan Avenue – sitting outside at a sidewalk table is a pretty mellow experience. A friendly server named Sadie dropped off digital menus and water glasses and I quickly surmised that the menu had shrunk considerably since my last visit. Which, as I said, was years ago. Indoor seating is available, too, and affords views into the open kitchen area, prep stations, and the wood-fired pizza oven.
There are only three starters to choose from at From Scratch: Wood Fired Bread ($6) served with house-made jam and cultured butter; a Charcuterie plate ($13) of aged meats, local cheeses, house-made apple jam, homemade mustard, and grapes; and the appetizer we ordered: Risotto Cake ($7).
I remembered the Risotto Cake from my earlier visits to From Scratch, and it doesn’t seem to have changed any. That’s a good thing, since it’s one of the best items on the restaurant’s menu. It’s also plenty large enough to share. It’s a big disc made with arborio rice – the kind you use to make risotto – that is breaded and deep-fried. The risotto cake is then plated on a bed of tangy roasted red pepper sauce and topped with fresh arugula and shredded parmesan. It was as tasty as I’d remembered.
I wish I could say the same for my wife’s main dish at lunch: a Vegan Bowl ($15). On paper, it sounded pretty appealing: onions, mushrooms, golden beets, garlic, squash, tomato, cauliflower, rice & chimichurri. Unfortunately, it was a bland (although extremely garlicky), greasy melange of stir-fried veggies and brown rice. If there was chimichurri in or on it, I couldn’t detect it. Vegans deserve better.
The wine selection at From Scratch is skimpy, to say the least, although it is local: Old Town Cellars Mountain Town Red and White, or Castle Creek Cabernet and Chardonnay. The only bubbly option is Andre Brut “Champagne.” The beer options are much more robust and there’s also liquor and cocktails.
Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, and jam are all made in-house at From Scratch, and so is the bread, pizza dough and such. In fact, even the flour is milled in-house, from organic hard spring wheat berries that are milled in a wooden Austrian flour mill.
That flour makes for some pretty sensational pizzas, sandwiches and burgers. I feel a bit chagrined to confess that in nearly 30 years of living in Utah, I had never eaten a pastrami burger until I ordered the one at From Scratch. I’m sure there will be many more in my future, as I make up for lost time and all the pastrami burgers I’ve missed out on. Since the Pastrami Burger ($16) at From Scratch was the first I’ve ever eaten, it was also the best I’ve ever eaten. But even if I’d had hundreds of pastrami burgers in the past, I suspect this one would have ranked near the top. It’s a burger that requires a knife and fork. Thankfully, it came to the table with a big steak knife. It’s a high-quality beef burger piled high with house-made pastrami, aged cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce,and mayo, with homemade ketchup on the side, as requested (not a ketchup fan, even if it is homemade). What really put this burger over the top was the house-baked brioche bun, which was incredibly light and airy. And, kudos to From Scratch for their excellent, twice-cooked, skin-on French fries. Burgers and sandwiches all come with a choice of fries, salad, or a cup of soup.
When I reviewed From Scratch in 2014, I said that they had “easily the best wood-fired pizza in Salt Lake City.” Well, there are a lot more wood-fired pizza joints in town now than there were back then. But I still think the pizzas at From Scratch are among the best, not just in SLC, but in Utah.
There are eight pizzas to choose from, including an excellent Margherita ($14), an Alfredo sauce “White Out” pizza ($14), Barbecue Chicken ($15), Three Meat Pizza ($15), and others. I love all things spicy so I ordered the Spicy Calabrese pizza ($15) and was not disappointed. The crispy, puffed and lightly charred crust was sensational – everything pizza crust should be. And I loved the rich, spicy flavor of the thinly sliced calabrese – which I’m pretty sure came from Creminelli Fine Meats – and the fresh-tasting tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. Pizza perfection, indeed.
Given how enjoyable most of our lunch items were, we’ll probably be back in the near future for dinner to try entrees like Beef Stroganoff ($16), Shrimp Scampi ($17), Chicken Parmesan ($15) or Grilled Salmon ($18) with lemon beurre blanc. Because if lunch is any indication, From Scratch is an eatery that has aged very well since I raved about it six years ago.
Photos by Ted Scheffler
Culinary quote of the week:
“At the base level, a burger is a piece of meat and a bun with something on it. It’s simple but it seems to make a lot of people happy.” — Danny Meyer
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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.