After 16 years — and the recent loss of its state liquor license — Aristo’s Greek Restaurant in east Salt Lake City has closed for good.
The loss of the Mediterranean restaurant near the University of Utah at the end of April follows the January shutdown of the beloved French-inspired Paris Bistro on the corner of 1500 South and 1500 East.
While diners are still mourning these two international favorites — with prime locations and alluring patios — neither location will remain shuttered for long.
Both soon will be Italian eateries.
The Aristo’s location, 244 S. 1300 East, will become Osteria Amore, while the Paris Bistro site is set to become La Trattoria di Francesco, the sixth restaurant for the Utah-based Sicilia Mia restaurant chain.
In a culinary plot twist, manager Eduardo Daja and chef Marco Cuttaia recently left Sicilia Mia to open Osteria Amore.
“We wanted to have something smaller, and have more space for creativity and seasonal options,” explained Daja, who was born and raised in Bologna, in Northern Italy.
Cuttaia has roots in southern Italy. Together, they plan to bring a range of regional Italian dishes — many from their own family recipes — to Osteria Amore.
After some remodeling, Daja hopes to have the restaurant open in June, so guests can enjoy the patio.
The recent departure of Daja and Cuttaia clearly hasn’t stopped the culinary freight train that is Sicilia Mia.
The Mirenda family posted a sign recently that a new restaurant concept — La Trattoria di Francesco — would be coming soon.
The project, named for Sicilia Mia founder Francesco Mirenda, is a partnership with Frank Granato Jr., whose family has owned and operated Granato’s Importing, delicatessen and market for some 70 years.
The owners say they have gutted the building and are working with an Italian architect on a $500,000 remodel. The tentative completion date is August.
The menu also will showcase family recipes and include a mix of steaks, fish and homemade pasta — the owners are even planning an open area where diners can see pasta being made. The restaurant will include a market stocked with imported items from Granato’s.
The Mirendas operate Sicilia Mia restaurants in downtown Salt Lake City, Cottonwood Heights, Holladay and Farmington, as well as Antica Sicilia, in Millcreek.
For the Italian restaurants to be successful, they will need to get liquor licenses from the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The loss of its state liquor license is one of several things that pushed Aristo’s owner, Aristides Boutsikakis, to close his 16-year-old Greek restaurant.
The state liquor commission suspended Aristo’s license in February after it discovered Boutsikakis had applied for the permit under a corporate entity that had not been active since 2014.
Boutsikakis said it was an oversight, so the commission gave the business owner a month to get the corporation reinstated. However, Boutsikakis was unsuccessful, and the alcohol license was officially revoked in March.
Aristo’s continued to operate through April sans alcohol, but the financial losses — which Boutsikakis estimated to be at least $30,000 in February alone — made it challenging.
“My lease was ending in December and I had already decided not to renew,” Boutsikakis said, adding that when the landlord agreed to let him out of the lease early, he made the decision to close.