Betcha that, after you visit Stoneground, you'll walk out counting up all the good things you've experienced. At least, that's what I did.
For starters, free parking! Downtown! In Salt Lake City!
The space itself, with big front windows, locally produced art, spare and earth-toned colors and roomy booths, is urban but not at all snooty. And the food, a quirky melange of Italian and bar food, just plain works.
In fact, if you close your eyes and picture a "great neighborhood pub," something like Stoneground likely will come to mind: comfortably hip, with all the laid-back ambience of a good bar, plus a carefully built menu of good solid food.
We brought a couple of our children when we visited Stoneground for a recent weekday lunch. Though it feels more like an adult place, especially in the evenings, I was surprised to find the trappings of kid-friendliness: highchairs, a kids' menu, lidded drink cups and, most important, kindness to the small fry on the part of Stoneground's staff. Our only real problem with the kids was convincing them to stay away from the two pool tables in the center of the room.
We started with the fried mozzarella, six plump and crunchy sticks filled with oozy, stretchy cheese, with a tangy, fresh marinara for dipping. We also had the garlic bread, big crusty slices of French bread rubbed with garlic and topped with a sprinkling of mozzarella. They really cried out for some soup for dipping; I'll remember that next time.
My daughter had the kids' spaghetti, a nice-size dish of al-dente noodles topped with marinara sauce, while my husband had the monumental open-faced meatball sandwich. This wonder comes in a tall, wide roll that really looks more like a box made of bread than something you'd pick up and eat with your hands. It's chock-full of beautifully seasoned eight-ball-size meatballs, sauce and lashings of mozzarella. My husband ate it with a fork but used his fingers for the fries that came on the side.
I thought about a pizza Stoneground has loads of enticing combinations, such as the chicken, gorgonzola and mozzarella pie with hot-wing sauce but couldn't pass up the penne con cognac, as good a pasta lunch as I've ever had with its meaty pancetta, button mushrooms, thin-sliced white onions and penne pasta in a warm, rich and buttery brandy cream sauce. With it I had a simple but perfectly fresh house salad of mixed greens, cucumbers and tomatoes with vinaigrette.
For dessert I had the tiramisu. This specialty of the house is a wonder, with all the seductively dense, moist creaminess you'd want in tiramisu wakened and enhanced by its bed of cream and raspberry sauce.Appetizers $4-$9, sides $3, salads $4-$8, soup $3-$4, sandwiches $7-$8, entrees $9-$15, pizzas $9-$17, kids' meals $3-$6, dessert $5.
Where: 249 E. 400 South
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday, 5-9 p.m.
Payment: Major credit cards accepted; no checks
Phone: 364-1368Wheelchair access: Easy (use the parking lot entrance and take the elevator)
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: email@example.com