Este Pizzeria is what it is, and that's all that it is.
Step into this downtown "New York-style" pizzeria and you'll likely be enveloped in a swirl of thrash metal playing (at a perfectly comfortable volume) over the speakers.
The wall art, rather than being some kitschy representation of the Big Apple, features funky art prints and concert and movie posters. And don't think of asking for ranch dressing with your pizza, proclaims a sternly worded sign near the register. They don't serve it at Este — "seriously, we don't!"
What they do serve is big, flat slices of foldable thin-crust pizza that's among the best in the valley, plus traditional appetizers, stromboli and calzones, surprising salads and desserts that … well, I'll get to those in a minute.
My husband, son and I had lunch at Este. I wanted to try the house specialty garlic knots, little fists of dough given the olive oil and fresh garlic treatment, but they'd just run out. Instead we went with my husband's favorite, mozzarella sticks, plus breaded ravioli.
The mozzarella (the whole-milk variety, by the way) was nicely crunchy, well seasoned and full of oozy cheese, served with Este's simple, tangy marinara.
The ravioli were a more tender, more subtly flavored version of the same thing, also with marinara.
I had the pizza slice, salad and drink lunch combination, so I also had a salad to enjoy, and it really was a surprise: prettily put together and full of flavor and texture, with fresh spring greens, red onions, golden raisins, sunflower seeds, green peppers, black olives and tomatoes.
The only thing that could have made it better was the dressing I had, Este's robust, almost creamy house-made tomato vinaigrette.
But we were really there for the pizza. I mean, sometime I'll definitely try a calzone or stromboli, but when you're there for lunch what you want is a slice. Este had four pizza-by-the-slice choices on the day we visited, and, of course, diners are free to choose from a menu of 14 types of pizza or build their own.
My husband had the two-slices-and-drink combo. His pepperoni pizza featured the kind of high-quality, baseball-size slices of pepperoni that infused the whole pizza with spicy richness.
I wanted to try the ricotta and garlic pizza, because it sounds delightful. But it so happens that my favorite kind of pizza, ham and green pepper, was on the menu, so I practically had to order it.
Boy, it was good. Mellow and salty, tangy and creamy, with that firm, crisp, chewy crust. I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it.
Our 3-year-old son had the cheese pizza, called "plain" here, and it's a real tribute to Este that despite his slice being about as big as his head, he ate most of it.
There's locally made gelato on the dessert menu, but it was gray and rainy outside, so we went with a couple of batches of warm, pillowy zeppoles, tiny Italian doughnuts coated in cinnamon sugar. On their own they were great, but they became absolutely wonderful dipped in the accompanying light, elusively sweet agave nectar.
Appetizers $4.50-$6.50, salads $5-$10, single slices about $2.50, combination meals $6.50-$8, pizzas $12-$27, calzones and stromboli $8-$14, dessert $4.
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News.
Where: 156 E. 200 South (also in Sugar House)
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-midnight
Sunday, 4-9 p.m.
Payment: Major credit cards accepted
Wheelchair access: Easy
Also: Delivery, takeout available