Emigration Brewing, despite its name, doesn’t make beer.
The new wood-fired pizza destination — located next to Ruth’s Diner — does, however, pay homage to Emigration Canyon’s beer-brewing past and celebrates Utah’s present surge in craft brewing.
In 1865, Henry Wagener founded Utah’s first brewery at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. At one point, it was the largest brewery west of the Mississippi and produced 10,000 barrels of beer annually.
To honor the brewing pioneer, the owners of Emigration Brewing have named the on-site store Henry’s Market and sell Utah-made beer and sundries.
As the sister restaurant to Pizza Nono in the 9th and 9th neighborhood, Emigration Brewing also expands on Nono’s thin-crust, wood-fired pizza expertise with more formal, sit-down service, as well as small plates, salads and desserts.
Small plates show the culinary team’s creative side. Roasted cauliflower ($11) is amped up with chilies and Asian accents of sesame and tamari, then sprinkled with fresh scallions and micro greens.
The warm, chewy housemade pretzel ($9) with whole-grain and Dijon mustards is reminiscent of a German beer hall snack and pairs well with an Emigration Pale Ale ($6 or $10) custom crafted for the restaurant by RoHa Brewing.
For a gathering over a few drinks, the charcuterie board ($21) is a fine choice. Three meats and three cheeses are paired with two kinds of olives, citrus nuts and herbed crostini on a hefty stone board for sharing.
Our table of four also split the intriguing burrata salad ($15) with generous amounts of fresh cheese and persimmon fruit drizzled with balsamic. The tangy yet sweet combination worked well with salty prosciutto and fresh basil.
Two copper ovens at the heart of Emigration Brewing serve as both a conversation piece and where the restaurant’s wood-fired pizza magic happens.
Four pizzas made their way up the canyon from Pizza Nono, including my favorite — the Rocketman ($16). It’s a brilliantly simple combination of melted fontina and mozzarella layered with peppery arugula and prosciutto di Parma for a savory finish.
The namesake Emigration pizza ($16) has woodsy mushrooms and fresh tarragon dotting melted fontina cheese. Its richness is ideal for winter, as snow blankets the trees running along the creek.
Each pie is cut into six slices bearing a bubbly, slightly charred crust — making sampling several an obvious choice.
The Canyon burger ($18) — which was average — is the only “entree” on the menu. We found the combination of arugula, pickled onions and pickles to be overly acidic without any standout elements on the housemade pretzel bun. The well-seasoned potatoes, however, had potential as a side.
Overall, the wait staff at Emigration Brewing was well-informed about the menu and individual ingredients. Food pacing was ideal for our table to share each item, but serving utensils and plates were afterthoughts in a restaurant designed primarily around small plates and pizza. All were graciously provided upon request.
Finish the evening with coffee and dessert. Warm chocolate chip cookies with milk ($6) and a creamy butterscotch pudding ($8) were recent offerings. Layers of crunchy pretzel crumb, caramel and whipped cream on the pudding were a beautifully presented end to the night. But we would have preferred a lighter touch of fresh rosemary, which finished as more herbaceous than sweet.
Emigration Brewing accepts only credit/debit cards — no cash — for payment. The restaurant also doesn’t accept reservations, and, with table space at a premium during winter, it may soon resemble its popular neighbor to the south.
While you wait, have a seat at the bar for a cocktail or peruse Henry’s Market for gourmet items and beer to take home. The host will keep you updated on table availability.
Emigration Brewing brings quality food, a commitment to Utah beer producers — and a touch of history — to the table in a beautiful, multifaceted space.
Heather L. King also owns www.slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches.
Emigration Brewing • ★★★ (out of ★★★★). Wood-fired pizza, small plates and Utah craft beer in a canyon setting. The on-site market pays homage to the state’s beer-brewing past.
Hours • Monday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Food • ★★★
Service • ★★★
Mood • ★★
Entrée Price • $$
Restaurant Noise • 2 bells.
Online • www.emigrationbrewing.com
Location • 4170 Emigration Canyon Road; 385-800-1098.
Children’s Menu • No.
Liquor • Yes.
Reservations • No.
Takeout • Yes.
Wheelchair access • Yes.
Outdoor dining • Yes.
Onsite parking • Yes.
Credit card • All.