This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
At Sicilia Mia, the Mirenda family has once again brought great Italian food to an unsuspecting neighborhood in the Salt Lake Valley.
Chef Franco Mirenda, who is well known from Sole Mio in Sandy and the former Amici, gathers his Sicilian family together at Sicilia Mia in Millcreek and produces well-executed takes on old family recipes in a strip mall near the Fresh Market on Highland Drive.
Despite its seemingly uninviting storefront, inside Sicilia Mia you'll find a rich Italian culture bursting with laughter, fine food and decadent desserts.
Start with the arancinette ($6.95), said to have originated in Sicily in the 10th century. These crispy, golf-ball-size rice balls are filled with melted mozzarella and Bolognese sauce and represent the best example I've enjoyed in Utah.
You'll also find them on the sharable misto caldo appetizer ($9.95) along with panelle (a rather bland Sicilian fritter), creamy potato croquette and crostini (a delightful fried baguette filled with warm béchamel, mozzarella and ham).
In addition to appetizers, starters include four soups ($8.95 to $13.95) and four salads ($5.95 to $8.95). A stellar Caesar presents as crisp-chopped romaine, homemade Caesar dressing with anchovies that is less creamy than most, and crunchy croutons ($5.95).
Although Sicilia Mia customers are welcome to sit on the patio, the setup doesn't allow the restaurant to serve wine or beer outside and much of the dining experience happens inside.
This is no better illustrated than with an order from the pasta (primi piatti) section of the menu. The spaghetti alla carbonara ($19.95) highlights fresh spaghetti tossed with eggs and pancetta that's then delivered to a flaming half-wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano in the center of the restaurant, where it's twirled around to pick up melting bits of cheese and then plated in a bowl artfully garnished with balsamic and parsley. A shave of Reggiano tops the rich, eggy dish that will leave you swooning.
Given the coastal locations of Sicily and southern Italy, it's no surprise to see seafood in abundance at Sicilia Mia.
Take, for example, the fettuccine Sicilia Mia ($17.95), which comes out flaming for presentation. A variety of seafood, including well-prepared shrimp and mussels, swim in a tomato and white wine sauce perfect for a summer evening meal.
A heartier option is found in the spaghetti al nero de seppia ($15.95), a pasta dish loaded with squid and shrimp and coated in a thick, briny, nearly black squid ink sauce.
Aside from pastas, the entrée (secondi) selections range from salmon ($18.95 and $19.95) and grilled ribeye ($19.95 and $20.95) to filet mignon ($29.95) and chicken dishes like the pollo alla boscaiola ($15.95), a breaded chicken breast covered with a tangy tomato-based caper, mushroom and Kalamata olive sauce.
Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a smaller selection of pastas ($9.95) and sandwiches ($10.95) along with the full menu of 12 pizza choices. Try the traditional margherita ($11.95) prepared in the wood-fired oven in the corner or the standout Sicilia Mia pizza ($15.95) topped with mozzarella, fresh arugula, salty prosciutto, shaved parmesan and olive oil. The pizzas are large enough for sharing as an appetizer or a meal with a slice or two left over.
Pair up your Italian feast at Sicilia Mia with a glass or bottle of wine from the small selection of Italian reds, whites and prosecco along with three beer ($6) choices. Nonalcoholic specialty beverages are also available, such as the Chinotto (a sweet and bitter soda from Sicily, $2.95) or more familiar Italian Aranciata and Limonata sodas ($2.95 each).
But whatever you do, make sure to save room for dessert. Your server will happily box up leftovers of your pasta and entrées, but you don't want to miss out on pastry chef Gaetano's works of art. Take note there is no dessert menu here. Instead, you'll be directed to peruse the dessert case near the center of the restaurant, where a multitude of sweet delights awaits. Everything from tiramisu and eclairs to profiteroles and the Sicilian staple of cannoli begs to be enjoyed with a cappuccino ($4.95) or espresso ($2.95) before bidding the family at Sicilia Mia goodnight.
Unlike many restaurants in Salt Lake, a reservation for dinner is absolutely required most evenings as the tables fill quickly and diners tend to linger over dessert. According to chef Franco's son Giuseppe who manages Sicilia Mia and is frequently the most friendly and boisterous of the family the restaurant's expansion into the neighboring business (a defunct Quiznos) to the south should be complete in the fall, allowing for a few more tables and additional room for gelato offerings.
Each time I dine at Sicilia Mia, I'm transported across the Atlantic to the tiny trattorias of Italy hidden down cobblestone streets which brings me to the things that are decidedly "un-American" about Sicilia Mia. There is no hostess stand where you are greeted and seated immediately; dishes are served when they are ready instead of when the entire table's order is prepared; and service might generally take longer, but with the added benefit of some Sicilian flair.
At Sicilia Mia, if your expectations are set on an experiential meal delivering elevated Italian dishes, you'll love the adventure in every visit and plan to make an evening of it all. If you're looking for cookie-cutter chain dining on a schedule, you'll want to look elsewhere. Mangia!
Heather L. King also writes for http://www.slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches.
Food • HHHH
Mood • HHH
Service • HHhj
Noise • bb
Authentic Sicilian and Italian pastas and desserts are the star dishes at Sicilia Mia in Millcreek.
Location • 4536 Highland Drive, Millcreek; 801-274-0223
Hours • Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., closed Sunday.
Children's menu • No
Prices • $-$$
Liquor • Wine and beer
Corkage • $12
Reservations • Recommended
Takeout • Yes
Wheelchair access • Yes
Outdoor dining • Yes
On-site parking • Yes
Credit cards • Yes