Bodega on Main offers tapas-style dining in Park City
Restaurateurs Paolo Bello and Nicholas Smurthwaite had always shared a passion for food, but a trip through Spain a few years ago opened their eyes to a new kind of dining experience.
As they made their way through Spain, stopping in towns such as San Sebastian, Barcelona and Madrid, they discovered tapas restaurants, which offer small dishes meant to be shared among a dining party. The places Bello and Smurthwaite ate had convivial atmospheres, and the tapas style was perfectly suited for conversation and connecting with others.
"We just loved the food," Smurthwaite said. "It was such a kind of vibrant way to dine. Everybody would go out later and eat and drink wine. It’s a different culture. It was so hip, a really young crowd."
Bello and Smurthwaite were so blown away by tapas restaurants that they wanted to find a way to bring their experience to Park City. In December, they opened Bodega on Main, a modern-styled tapas restaurant they hope gives a bit of Spanish flair to the area’s ski town environment.
"We think it fits perfectly in this town," Smurthwaite said. "Most of the restaurants have such large plates, and we’re trying to make it more affordable for people to eat out and for people who maybe don’t want to eat that much. And we’re finding a lot of people want to eat later here, too. We’re getting a younger crowd that wants to dine late and have this type of atmosphere."
Bodega on Main’s menu features dishes such as chicken croquettes, fried brie bites and pincho pork ribs. The restaurant also has a full-service bar, serving up sangrias and Spanish-influenced cocktails. Bello and Smurthwaite expect to open an outdoor patio when the weather warms to add another element to the dining experience for patrons.
"Our biggest seller is our lamb lollipops," Smurthwaite said. "We do lamb chops and grill them with Chimichuri. People go crazy for them. But we’ll be changing the menu a lot seasonally. In summer, we’ll be having more salads and lighter food. I’ll be keeping the main items, but it’s fun to change it up."
Bello said they have been encouraged by a positive response from customers so far. She said the warm reviews are appreciated as the restaurant tries to establish a solid footing in Park City.
"We get a few people from Spain and some people who say they have gone to Spain," she said. "They are saying we are very authentic, so that’s great to hear."
Added Smurthwaite: "People are loving it. People come and don’t have to order so much, you know? They order what they want, and if they’re still hungry, they can order more. People keep telling us that this is what the town needed."
Both Bello and Smurthwaite have a lot of history in the restaurant industry. As well as starting Bodega on Main, they are co-owners of the Main Street Italian restaurant Buona Vita and have worked in other local restaurants for years. They said owning restaurants comes with a different sense of satisfaction than merely working in them, and they’re excited to experience success at Bodega.
"You’re doing the same thing but for someone else when you don’t own the restaurant," Bello said. "That was the main thing. You’re working hard with the same passion, but for a restaurant that isn’t yours. We love doing it for ourselves."
And they are happy to be doing it in Park City, Bello added. She is from South America and Smurthwaite is from Australia, but both have made Park City home largely because of its vibrant dining scene. Bello said she enjoys serving customers who are from out of town and being able to make a memorable vacation even better. Smurthwaite said he simply likes basking in a job well done at the end of the night when all the patrons have cleared out.
"There’s a big buzz at the end of the night, when you finish up and everything went well and you served a lot of people," he said. "I love that as a chef, when you deliver that experience."
Bodega on Main
710 Main St.
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Another ski season is in the books, and much to the relief of the restaurant industry, the outlook, like the weather, is looking sunny.