Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cucina Deli

When you walk in the door you are greeted by a large glass deli cooler holding a variety of entrees, desserts, salads, and side dishes. On the walls behind the counters are chalk boards with the daily items written by hand in colored chalk. On their menu, you’ll find items ranging from grilled vegetable sandwiches, grilled chicken salads, salmon tortellini, meat loaf, and curry chicken to desserts such as german chocolate brownies, bread pudding, and lemon bars. The menu is very unassuming; there is something so simple and honest about being able to walk into a place, pick what you want through a glass case, pay at the end of the line, and be seated until your food comes out. It almost reminds you of a high school cafeteria.

As comforting as I’m making this sound, the experience can also be a little stressful as well. I immediately felt a twinge of panic when a line formed behind us. I took several glances at the chalkboard and then several glances at the deli case trying to make out what was what. I could tell the gentleman behind us, probably a regular of some sort, was becoming inpatient as he started breathing more heavily and increasingly louder. I was contemplating between the portobello mushroom sandwich and the Thai beef salad when in a panic I blurted out: "chicken enchiladas"! My lunchmate and I rounded our meal out with an order of cheese lasagna, two San Pellegrino Limonatas, and two Lindt dark chocolate truffles.

After the relief of the ordering trauma set in, our food was delivered promptly and happily to our table (lucky number 71). Upon first glance the food was unassuming, balanced nicely with a green salad of olives and pepporincini, and some bread. The chicken enchilada was quite satisfying. Cutting into it let out big chunks of chicken breast amidst a gooey cream sauce held together by the flour tortilla. The portion was actually manageable. Not too big or too small. It tasted much liked it looked – very unassuming; it tasted like a chicken enchilada. No stand out flavors…maybe a hint of cumin and oregano, but mostly you got this satisifying comfort from a creamy, gooey, bunch of chicken and cheese wrapped up in a bundle.

Similarly, I would also not call the cheese lasagna a masterpiece of modern gastronomy. It was – well - a piece of cheese lasagna. Pasta layered between dollops of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and ricotta baked into a yummy goo. Again, like the enchiladas, there was no real defined flavor profile, but just a comfortable feeling from a whole lot of pasta, red sauce, and melted cheese. I find that you can’t always eat super chic, gourmet meals, all day every day. But I do think you can and should eat good food all day every day. Cucina Deli uses fresh, good quality ingredients and prepares its food with the respect it should be given. The result? Unassuming food that satisfies the soul. Now how bad can that be?

Cucina Deli ~ Salt Lake City, Utah
The Avenues

Cucina Deli on Urbanspoon

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