Cafe Trio has become one of our Salt Lake favorites. This trendy, youthful cafe at 7th South and 8th East is owned by the longtime Salt Lake favorite Fresco Italian Cafe. We kinda look at Trio as an Italian cafe itself, but the menu is really more diverse. It’s fun, it’s extremely reasonably priced and it’s always packed!
Cafe Trio is in the building that used to house the Dodo restaurant, one of Salt Lake’s favorites, before it moved to the Gateway Center. It’s in a wonderful neighborhood on Salt Lake’s east side. Chef and owner Mikel Trapp started out at Salt Lake’s Park Cafe over 25 years ago, eventually making his way up to the Stein Eriksen Lodge as a chef and manager. In 2004 he tookover Fresco and Trio, and also opened a second Trio in Cottonwood (6400 South).
A staple item at Cafe Trio is the flatbread. In fact, if you have to wait for a table (sorry, no reservations), get an order of flatbread hot out of the stone oven in the teeny lobby area. Our favorite is the rosemary flatbread with goat cheese, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, and tomatoes for $7.95. The mixed green salad is the best on the menu with red flame grapes, candied walnuts, gorgonzola, and balsamic vinaigrette for just $4.95.
We tend to stick to the Italian entrees but someday I want to try the $22 maple-brined Berkshire pork chop (can’t imagine it can beat Tuscany’s pork chop). OK, I know this sounds crazy, but you simply have to try the Trio meatball. This should be in the meatball hall of fame. It is an incredibly dense piece of meat, huge and chewy, and goes well with the good old fashioned thick round strands of spaghetti for just $10.95. Carole usually sticks with the three cheese spinach ravioli featuring butternut squash, sage, and asiago for $12.95.
We haven’t tried the pizzas yet, but knowing how good the flatbread is in the stone oven, they have to be good. Pizzas are just ten bucks and would be a good sized meal.
Cafe Trio also follows the hot trend of tiered wine pricing, with red bottles at $26-$35-$40. Normally we bring our own wine, but Trio’s selection is reasonable, exciting and dynamic. Make sure to ask about new bottles that might not be on the list. The list is short and you won’t recognize many of the labels. But the selection is done masterfully for quality and price value. The selections are generally California, Italy and Spain. Frankly, we have found the best values and taste in the Spanish reds. And we’ve found ALL of the wait staff to really know what to recommend. This is a great place to simply take a chance on a $35 wine you don’t know!
What it Is, What it Isn’t
Trio is fun, bustling, exciting, youthful and reasonably priced. It’s the kind of place you can make a casual decision to have dinner and not break the bank, or it can be something you look forward to. It’s nothing elegant, but more hip and trendy. It’s small, so it’s likely you’ll have to wait. But it’s worth it and one of our favorite spots in salt Lake!