As a restaurant critic, one of the very first downtown Salt Lake restaurants to grab my attention – back about a decade ago – was Caffe Molise, on 100 South just across from Crossroads Plaza and the Convention Center. I loved the restaurant’s simple but delicious dishes from the Molise region of Italy – many of them made from recipes handed down from owner Shelly DeProto’s grandmother.
Well, two years ago the restaurant changed hands. It was purchased by longtime Caffe Molise chef Fred Moesinger, who is now both chef and owner. Frankly, I worried a bit that Caffe Molise might lose some of its unique Italian charm under the command of a new owner. But I’m happy to report after a couple of recent visits to Caffe Molise that this terrific little eatery just seems to get better and better.
For starters, Caffe Molise has expanded – virtually doubling its size. That’s good news for patrons who might otherwise have to wait for a table on a busy Friday night when the John Flanders jazz trio is in full swing at Caffe Molise.
And the restaurant also looks a bit snazzier than it used to, with décor upgrades that really make a difference. But I was relieved that while Chef Moesinger has added innovative new dishes to the Molise menu, the old standbys like the best homemade lasagna in town and wonderful dishes such as fresh potato and semolina gnocchi with a yummy tomato cream sauce, basil, and toasted pine nuts, are still alive and well at Caffe Molise. And for an especially decadent treat, try Fred Moesinger’s ravioli di aragosta, which is lobster wrapped in black and white pasta sheets and served with a fragrant saffron broth.
That’s Caffe Molise on 100 South, a restaurant that keeps improving with age.