Restaurant Reveal: Vinto fills two niches in Park City
Vinto is located at 900 Main Street, Park City, on the interior pedestrian walkway of the Marriott Summitwatch. Open for lunch, dinner and takeout, Monday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday for dinner and takeout, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Vinto is a non-reservation restaurant. For more information, call 435-615-9990 or log on to vinto.com.
Vinto Pizzeria, at the bottom of Lower Main Street, has taken the adage, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and expanded it to an entire community.
“We have awesome locals that come in,” Executive Chef Anne Carothers said. “This one family comes in, and they order the chicken parmesan, the whole family. And they love us so much, two of their sons got applications to start working here.”
Hiring local students is part of Vinto’s philosophy for bring the community into the restaurant. Both Carothers and owner Helene Loyd are proud the restaurant is the first workplace for some Park City teens, as well as a favorite local eatery.
“When the owner started this, she really wanted the menu to be shareable,” Carothers said. “Get a few apps for the table, and a few pizzas to share, and everything will come out quickly but paced, so you’re not too cramped.”
Fast, healthy, delicious Italian dishes and wood-fired pizzas are the hallmarks of Vinto’s mission, she added. Everything from pizza dough and salad dressing to gelato and sauces are made fresh in-house, and the goal is to get food to the table in under 15 minutes.
The menu stays largely consistent from year to year because so many people have already found their favorites in the restaurant’s short six-year history, Carothers said. Changing the recipe on the popular meatball appetizer, for example, would be unthinkable.
There is still room for innovation, however, and specials or seasonal dishes have graduated to permanent homes on the menu.
“We started the tomato bruschetta as a summer appetizer and we were playing around with new fresh salad-y type things,” Carothers said. “It’s not typical because it’s got a bunch of fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes, and chunks of mozzarella … a nice grilled bread, so it’s kinda soft, and we slather it with fresh tomato paste and then we put the salad on top.
“It is so popular, that we can never take it off the menu now,” she added.
The pizza menu gets new additions as well.
“The newest pizza is the portobello, and instead of doing fresh prosciutto, we crisp it up so it’s almost like prosciutto bacon, so it has that crunch when you’re eating it, but still you get that salty prosciutto flavor,” Carothers said.
Vinto has seen busy nights this winter, with 250 diners and an additional 40 to 50 take-out orders coming in many evenings. Patrons can see the staff hard at work with the open kitchen layout.
“[For dinner] I have five cooks on the line and usually one or two dishwashers,” Carothers said. “It’s a tight kitchen but we need that many hands … It’s just like this conveyor belt, trying to be as fast and efficient and still making a good product.”
Even so, because the restaurant does not take reservations, there have been nights with a two-hour wait to get in.
Carothers places the success of such a high-volume restaurant on the experienced staff she has.
“They’re my second-hand people. They’ll notice when something is not right. I couldn’t do it without them,” she said. “We can do it in our sleep, to tell you the truth. Sometimes I have dreams about making pizzas.”
The fast pace of Vinto energizes Carothers.
“I really thrive on meeting people coming in,” she said. “And I love an open kitchen. I’m not one of those people who likes to be in a windowless kitchen in the back, cooking for people and I can’t even see their faces. If I can’t see them eating and enjoying their food, it’s no fun.”
Helene Loyd, the owner of Vinto Pizzeria, tapped Carothers to come onboard when Loyd and a partner were opening up a location in Park City. Today, the restaurant not only has a female owner and chef, but also a female general manager and accountant.
“My prior career was as an entertainment lawyer and an executive in Hollywood, and I did always have a heavily female-weighted staff there too,” Loyd said. Vinto has had men as executive chefs and general managers in the past, and the current pastry chef is male, she said.
“It’s always been a question of the best person for the job, but I enjoy working with women, so I have no hesitation that a woman can do any job,” she added. “It isn’t that we don’t hire men if they’re qualified, but there are often more qualified women.”
Carothers, for one, is not shy about the different style of leadership she employs.
“I’m not one of those chefs that’s really egotistical,” she said.”I like everybody to get along. I’m more like the ‘mom’ executive chef. I like everything calm and comfortable … Sometimes people will take advantage of that, and then I have to put my foot down.”
Some of the feedback both Carothers and Loyd have gotten from winter and summer visitors is a wish for a Vinto in their hometowns.
“[My business partner and I] started the restaurant with the goal to franchise it … and we are still open to that,” Loyd said. “[My husband and I] travel a lot and I haven’t had consistent gelato that is as good as we create at the restaurant. I really think that Anne and Allan [Hoffman, pastry chef], for the small staff, have done an unbelievable job in terms of the quality of some of the food … so I’m perfectly fine having just the one in Park City.”
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