A true taste of Italy found in Murray
Aug 27, 2018 02:41PM
● By Travis Barton
Whether you’ve recently returned from a vacation to Italy, or are searching for a piece of Italy, or simply want genuine pasta, then it’s time to visit Celeste Ristorante (5468 S. 900 East).
From Los Angeles to Heber City to Salt Lake City, owner Paolo Celeste is well known for his authenticity, both in his persona and culinary creations. All food served at his restaurant is cooked by him.
Born in Forte Dei Marmi, Italy near the Versilia Beach of the Tuscany region, Celeste knows authentic Italian food. He grew up with it, lived it, breathed it. What started as a job to make extra money at his friend’s uncle’s restaurant transformed into a lifelong passion.
In 1987, Celeste moved to California with a friend where they opened what is now the famous Madeo restaurant in Beverly Hills. His first foray into Utah came in 1994 when another friend opened an Italian place in Heber City.
“My boss told me, ‘You wanna go and see Utah? Wanna go and lead a restaurant?’ I said, ‘Why not, let’s see what’s going on in Utah,’” Celeste recalled.
While in Heber City, Celeste would make weekly trips to Salt Lake City for ingredients, but he noticed something about the state’s capital city, there was “no true Italian food.”
Fast forward a year to 1995 and Michelangelos opened in Sugar House. But due to health problems with his mother, they sold Michelangelos in 2004 for Celeste to return home.
Eight years later, Celeste came back to California to open another restaurant in Los Angeles. How did he end up in Murray? The persistence of Murray resident, Kim Candilora, who Celeste said, “kept calling me” saying, “Come back to Utah, we need you, we need your food.”
August 2017 marked the grand opening of Celeste Ristorante in the Murray strip mall near Dollar Tree and Big Lots.
The past 20 years have seen a lot of globe hopping from the Forte Dei Marmi native. But what’s maintained his passion for the restaurant business? At his heart, Celeste is an inventor.
“You create the food, I like to create things,” he said of his ongoing motivation to cook. “It’s something you have inside. You like or you don’t like it. It’s a tough job…I love it.”
Does he have a favorite creation? “I have many,” he said. “I love to make pastries. I love to make fresh pasta, stuffed ravioli. I love to cook fish. I grew up in the ocean so I love fish. It’s something unbelievable.”
The menu features insalatas (salads), zuppe (soup), le paste (pastas) and carni (meats) and pesci (fish).
Whether it’s his Ravioli Incavolati—homemade ravioli with ricotta cheese, kale, butter, sage sauce and Parmigiano cheese—or his Pesce Spada Griglia—grilled sword fish steak with extra virgin olive oil and lemon dressing—Celeste guarantees authentic Italian delights because it’s what separates his “ristorante.”
“Here (it) is 100 percent authentic Italian food. Many, many other restaurants they are not authentic,” he said. “I believe in my food. If you are doing good food, authentic Italian food, people can tell the difference. Especially a lot of people now, they go to Italy on vacation, come back and they find out this is the real thing.”
But don’t trust Celeste, trust your taste buds.
“(People) need to come and try, that is the point,” he said. “I can talk and talk and talk, but you have to come and sit down, try the food and then you realize what I am talking about.”
Celeste Ristorante is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. To book a table, call 801-290-2913. To see the full menu and more information, check out celesteristorante.com.