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Dining out: Carlucci's Bakery

Published: Friday, April 10 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

I love to drive down Broadway (that's 300 South to you grid fans) between State and 400 West and see all the good eating spots in this stretch of downtown.

Some of them — Esther's, Caputo's, Judge Cafe — I've reviewed. Others are on my list for the future. The problem is, I'll pull up fully intending to visit one, only to be lured away by the enticements of another.

That's what happened on the recent weekday that my husband and I had lunch at Carlucci's Bakery, which shares building space with Caputo's.

We intended to stop by a different eatery, but I'm a big sucker for bakeries, and a fresh sandwich sounded like just the thing for that bright spring day.

The menu at Carlucci's covers the basics and throws in a few unique touches, but it also shows how successful an eatery can be when it concentrates on providing good, high-quality food that people want to eat.

Does that sound obvious? If so, think about the many restaurants that have come and gone trying to reinvent what's good rather than just making good food as well as they can.

Carlucci's takes the latter route. Take my husband's sandwich, piled-up Black Forest ham with thick, creamy slices of Brie and honey Dijon mustard on a baguette. That's it. But the quality of each individual ingredient made it very satisfying. I especially liked the richness of the Brie, bitter-firm rind and all, and the way it set off the salty ham and crisp-crusted bread.

I was mightily tempted by the garlic and herb goat cheese baguette with roasted tomatoes and fresh greens. I'm sure I'll get it next time. But the specials board promised the best grilled cheese in the world, along with soup and pasta salad, and I just couldn't resist.

The grilled cheese was added evidence of the power of quality ingredients in a simple dish. Two oozy cheeses, thick-cut grainy bread grilled with butter — sandwich heaven. With it I had a hearty and surprising soup of roasted red pepper, sweet, herbed and spicy, with black beans.

The mound of tricolor pasta salad with mozzarella, zucchini, red onion and black olives tossed in house balsamic was too much for my appetite, so I had a few forkfuls of its cool tanginess and saved the rest for later.

Our son had a good sammie of chunky peanut butter with strawberry jam on Carlucci's nine-grain bread. He mainly concentrated, though, on the delicious pastries we bought to take home. We had simple, soft and delicious black-and-white cookies, a deeply chocolate brownie, rich and classic tiramisu and a fresh fruit tart with its amazing, just-sweet crust.

I loved the many "mini" versions of Carlucci's pastries and bought three lovely little mini fruit tarts for my three daughters. At less than a dollar each, they made a pretty after-school snack.

Sandwiches $3.95-$7.45, salads $3.95-$7.95, combinations $6.50-$6.95, extras and sides 50 cents-$2, pastries vary seasonally but range around $1-$5 for single servings.

Rating: ★★★

Where: 314 W. 300 South

Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Sunday

Payment: Major credit cards accepted

Phone: 801-366-4484

Wheelchair access: Stairs make access complicated

Web: www.carluccisbakery.com

Also: breakfast and catering available

Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News.

e-maiL: skratz@desnews.com

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