LAYTON — Roosters, a downtown Ogden mainstay for 10 years, has opened a location in Layton, just off the city's "Restaurant Row."

Now, I haven't sampled all of the restaurants in that area, but I'd be surprised if a single one of them could approach Roosters. This place is a jewel in Layton's culinary crown — heck, it's worth a drive from wherever you happen to be along the Wasatch Front.

The new location retains the Ogden shop's funky-but-just-a-bit-upscale vibe, updating it for a larger, more modern space. There are several distinctive eating areas featuring brick walls, distressed paint finishes, art glass and lots and lots of pictures of roosters.

Roosters is the kind of place that makes everyone feel welcome. It's a great date spot, suitable for a business dinner but also welcoming to families. In fact, Roosters goes the extra mile for kids, with everything from a varied, creative children's menu to complimentary "Wikki Stix," packets of what are basically wax-coated pipe cleaners that my kids loved so much they had a hard time concentrating on their food.

And that was amazing, because everything we had was wonderful. We started with the onion "loops," Roosters' delicious onion rings, with crispy, herbed-batter coating thick, sweet onion slices. The batter is just a bit bready inside, lending additional flavor and substance to the rings.

Our other appetizer, dubbed "What a Crock," was a bright-green, creamy amalgam of baked sharp cheeses, artichoke hearts, spinach, crab and roasted garlic. It was served with hunks of crusty seeded bread, which perfectly complemented the rich, slightly bitter and deliciously earthy hot dip.

The kids' meals were simple — thin spaghetti with marinara, chicken fingers — but well-prepared, with homemade sauce on the pasta and a flavorful, obviously hand-applied batter on the juicy chicken.

My husband had the Italian sausage penne. This was a homey delight, with firm noodles in herbed tomato sauce given a kick by tons of spicy ground Italian sausage. Scads of melted mozzarella mellowed the flavors and lent a bit of an oven-baked vibe.

I had the veal scalloppine marsala, one of the best dinners I've had in . . . I don't know how long. It features medallions of veal — all of them lean, full-flavored and tender — in a simple, deeply flavored sauce of stock and marsala wine. Each accompaniment was thoughtful and added dimension to the meal, from the bright wilted spinach to the thick-sliced portobello mushrooms and the golden, cheesy mashed potatoes.

We ate so much we barely had room for dessert, but in the interest of journalistic thoroughness we managed to put a dent or two in a slice of dense, dark and refreshing mint-chocolate cake, as well as a plate of mixed-berry cobbler featuring a sour, opulent berry sauce under a single, large, fluffy biscuit and lots of Farr's vanilla ice cream.

Just a word about Roosters' lunch: It's every bit as fun, creative and interesting as the dinner. I recommend the portobello-mushroom sandwich, a huge broiled-mushroom cap with Gruyere cheese, basil and tomatoes — but as with the dinner menu, you probably can't go wrong no matter what you choose.

Appetizers $4.95-$8.95, pizzas $7.95-$9.95, salads $6.50-$7.95, sandwiches and tacos $5.95-$9.95, entrees $8.50-$19.95, kids' meals $3.50-$4.50, lunch $5.95-$12.95, desserts

Rating: *** 1/2

Where: 748 W. Heritage Park Blvd., Layton (774-9930)

253 25th St., Ogden (627-6171)

Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-midnight

Sunday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (brunch served 10 a.m.-2 p.m.)

Payment: Checks, credit cards accepted

Reservations: Accepted


Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: