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Dinner and a Sundance movie

Want to get a meal and celebrity watch during the film festival? Make a reservation

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 17 2012 5:00 p.m. MST

A new Park City restaurant, Al Dente, is ready to feed film-goers at the Sundance Film Festival.

Provided by Al Dente

Sundance Film Festival brings new meaning to "dinner and a movie."

The Sundance Film Festival isn't all just about movies. Food plays a major supporting role. If you are a celebrity or movie star, you won't go hungry due to the many private parties, dinners and lounges waiting to indulge you with complimentary food and beverages.

For the rest of us, there are new local restaurants, a temporary "guerilla" restaurant, the Sundance Film Festival Café and other venues that offer taste experiences from high-end to low-budget, from exclusive to "everybody's welcome." And yes, you may be able to sight a few famous faces along the way.

Some high-end Park City restaurants are hosting private events, but many will be open to the public.

"They will still be busy, but they really want to encourage the local Utah community to come and dine," said Christa Graff, spokeswoman for the Park City Restaurant Association.

But to be sure you'll get a table, reservations are recommended.

If you're hoping to spot some Hollywood stars, the sushi restaurant, Yuki Arashi at 586 Main, might be the place to go. In past years, diners have included Christian Bale, Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Grey, the Cohen brothers, Renee Zellweger, Bradley Cooper, Chris Rock, Josh Brolin and Lisa Kudrow.

"Sushi is a trendy thing in Hollywood," observed the restaurant's owner, Soo Chyung, "During Sundance we open about 11 a.m and we're full until 1 a.m. We average about 700 people a day."

Chyung opened an Italian restaurant, Al Dente, last month in a prime location next to the main Sundance box office on the corner of Main Street and Swede Alley.

He said Al Dente is being leased for private events the first five days of the festival, then open to the public beginning Jan. 24. "In fact, we've already got a bunch of reservations," he said.

The Al Dente menu features Italian dishes such as Linguine alla Diavola and Duck Confit Ravioli, Lamb Scottadito and Veal Piccata. Pricing is typical "Park City" — entrees from $20 to $42.

Chyung also opened a Chinese restaurant, A Wok Away, last February at 1890 Bonanza Drive. "Since it's our first year of Sundance there, we're not sure what to expect," he said.

Other new Park City restaurants include Bistro at Canyons Resort, which serves kosher food, and The Farm, also at Canyons, which specializes in locally sourced ingredients.

Silver, the glittery Park City restaurant, will be closed opening weekend for private events, and then open to the public by reservation only, according to spokesperson Helena Goldglantz. Last year, stars such as Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth, Ryan Reynolds and Katie Holmes were spotted there.

High West Distillery will host a few private events, but will be open to the public at other times.

Chimayo, Grappa, Wahso, Ghidotti's and Windy Ridge Café in the Bill White Restaurant Group will all be open to the public. Chimayo, Grappa and Wahso will offer an $80 fixed-price menu of an appetizer, a soup or salad and entrée chosen from the menu.

But Park City isn't the only place for dinner and a movie.

"We get hit hard by Sundance — in a good way," said Ryan Lowder, owner of The Copper Onion and Plum Alley restaurants, both located next to the Broadway Theater, one of Sundance's Salt Lake City venues. He opened Plum Alley last month, and he expects it will also be packed. The casual restaurant specializes in small plates with Southeast Asian flavors, and was named after the street where Utah's Chinatown once existed.

Two years ago he and wife Colleen Lowder opened The Copper Onion the same week as the festival started.