Caffe Molisse
Came here for the first time for a friend’s birthday and was so pleasantly surprised by the rich and classic ambiance. I’m always glad to find a restaurant in Utah that isn’t afraid of fine dining, though you’ll of course see your fair share of t-shirts and sneakers here even at dinner (it is Utah, after all. My husband would like the welcoming and casual attitude.)

None of the fashionable minimalism or neon lighting here – it’s all velvet seating, antique details, multiple bar areas, enviable flooring. Some details could probably use updating but it adds to the lived-in feel. 

I would suggest dining here for the building itself. This is the second location of Caffe Molise (previously was where The Ivy is now). The new location was formerly a club, and the enormous building has been renovated with all these lovely little dining areas that are almost like classy vignettes from a movie, tucked away and with their own theme and décor. Yet it effortlessly flows together in a cohesive whole.
Our server told us there is also a large event area upstairs as well, and a bar area in the lower level – would love to return to see these. 

We were seated on their generous patio, which is blocked off from the street by fences and lush greenery. It is spacious but somehow also feels intimate and romantic. There is a fountain bubbling on the side. I appreciated that there was lots of seating spread out for privacy. 

The food was beautifully presented and the menu of Italian favorites is familiar yet fresh. 
Always tempted by house-made pasta so had to try the one dish on the menu with it: Pappardelle al Sugo. The pappardelle was topped with “a savory, slow-cooked sauce of pork and beef with tomatoes, topped with Asiago.” The pasta was cooked perfectly and the portion on point, but I found the flavors of the sauce wanting. Especially for the price, I hoped for more depth and richness. 

The drinks menu is well-conceived and creative. (It is not listed on the website for some reason.) I tried a cocktail with Prosecco and it was lovely and potent. 
Like most dining downtown, the parking is tricky – they have a very small lot on the south side, but we found street parking across W. Temple and walked over. 
Also pleased with the service, which was attentive and professional, but relaxed and indulgent of our distracted conversations. That is, it was until the end, when it was near closing and our server hovered nearby, hinting not-so-subtly at us to leave (though there were many people still dining in the restaurant). Even after living here for a decade, I’m still surprised at how early downtown restaurants close (though it was a weeknight). 
All in all, Caffe Molise was impressive and a pleasant place for a group or a date night. I’d be happy to return. 

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