SALT LAKE CITY — In a December episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr answered questions from the show’s listeners. One of those listeners asked Kerr if he had a favorite city for grabbing a postgame meal. His answer? Salt Lake City.
Just after the episode's 21-minute mark, Kerr gave what he called “a really off the beaten path recommendation”: Valter’s Osteria, an upscale Italian restaurant just a few blocks south of Vivint Arena. According to Kerr, the Warriors often rent out the restaurant for team dinners when they’re staying in Salt Lake City overnight.
Simmons’ show is regularly iTunes’ top-rated sports podcast. And since Kerr’s recommendation, Valter’s has garnered mentions in some other top-rated podcasts, including the food-focused “House of Carbs” and “Road Trippin’,” the popular sports podcast hosted by NBA players Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye.
Valter’s, however, and its owner, Valter Nassi, are remaining mum.
“Valter said that Mr. Kerr is now becoming a friend to the restaurant … so he is not comfortable speaking about it,” a representative from Valter’s told the Deseret News via email. “Valter is a very private man and would like to stay that way as long as he is able.”
Kerr doesn’t seem too worried about the privacy.
“It’s amazing food,” Kerr told the Deseret News in January during a shootaround before the team’s loss to the Jazz. (He and the coaches had eaten at Valter’s the night before.) “I told the coaches last night that there is not a better restaurant in the country than Valter’s.
“We let him bring whatever he wants,” Kerr added. “We just say, ‘Bring us food.’ I like doing that, too. I don’t have any food allergies, I like everything, so I kind of like letting him bring whatever he wants.”
Valter's also came up in episode 76 of “Road Trippin’” — one that caught Utahns’ attention for Trey Lyles’ comments about Salt Lake City — when Denver Nuggets forward/center Mason Plumlee mentioned he eats at Valter’s when visiting Salt Lake City. (At the episode's 36:37 mark.)
“That’s a great place,” Richard Jefferson, himself a former Jazz player, added during the episode. “Really, really good.”
“House of Carbs,” a popular food podcast that launched in June of last year, also mentioned Valter’s in a recent episode. “Bill Simmons Podcast” host Bill Simmons came on the podcast to rank the food scenes in all 16 cities represented in this year’s NBA playoffs. (Salt Lake City was ranked 11th.)
“That stuck in the back of my head,” Simmons said of Kerr’s Valter’s recommendation. “I like the high altitude — you get a little groggy, you get a couple drinks, a couple food (items), it’s just a fun experience.Comment on this story
“To me, this is word of mouth,” he said about Salt Lake City’s No. 11 ranking. “I feel like I’ve heard enough times over the years that the food in Utah is kind of a thing.”
Nassi may not want to discuss his NBA connections these days, but he did speak with Deseret News columnist Lee Benson in 2014. The Italy-born Nassi worked in restaurants around the world and settled in Salt Lake City 20 years ago.
“It is not Salt Lake City,” Valter proclaimed, his hands waving about as if he had been guiding a plane to a landing. “It is Salt Lake My City. Do you understand? Salt Lake My City. Wow!”