BIJAN GHIAI OF URBAN HILL: MANAGING A RESTAURANT BAR IN SALT LAKE CITY
Chef’s Roll, November 29, 2023 | Urban Hill is the fine-dining concept of Utah-based restaurant group Leave Room for Dessert Eateries from rising restaurateur Brooks Kirchheimer (Utah Business‘ “40 Under 40” for 2023). Running the immaculate bar program is Bijan Ghiai, bar director at Urban Hill, who has been working behind the bar since he was 19 years old.
Ghiai started working at a locally-owned Utah-based winery, La Caille, where wine quickly became a passion. Ghiai’s depth of wine and spirits has evolved over the years and has influenced the selection at Urban Hill, which pays homage to bio-diverse and low-intervention wines.
Regarding spirits, Ghiai focuses on having an array of classic offerings while showcasing unique liquor and aperitif selections, many of which he had to newly establish through the state of Utah’s rigorous DABS. Think special Italian amaro and Caribbean rum pours, while on the cocktail side, off-menu specials like the Kalamata olive dirty martini.
We spoke to Ghiai about running a bar program in Salt Lake City and his favorite cocktail as of late.
Five steaks worth splurging on around Salt Lake City
Gastronomic Salt Lake City, October 27, 2023 | Urban Hill’s 20 ounce ribeye ($110) is sourced from Creekstone Farm and is the prime choice. The sharable steak is dry-aged for 28 – 32 days and is plated with whipped potatoes and peperonata sauce. It’s perfectly grilled over the wood-fired grill. For sure consider asking for a kitchen-facing seat so you can watch the action directly over the impressive Grillworks setup.
It’s clear chef Nick Zocco and his team have things dialed in on that grill. “Our preference is based on the fact that we can offer to our consumer an outstanding cut of beef and keep our price point relative to the market,” says Zocco. “With flavors coming off our [grill] a combination of oak and applewood, we also add mesquite charcoal to our fuel mix. These three components offer an exceptional flavor profile you will not find from a regular gas grill or broiler. It adds the primitive aspect of our ancestors. We can control the steaks cooking with higher heat or just a little more smoke to make this one of the best steaks we have to offer.”
UTAH’S MOST LUXURIOUS BURGERS – READY FOR A SPLURGE?
Gastronomic Salt Lake City, September 25, 2023 | Over to the Post District now and a recent addition to a fresher menu at Urban Hill. Chef Nick Zocco’s burger uses a smash stye patty before leaning into Zocco’s Southwestern roots with hatch chiles. Also joining the fray, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, American cheese, pickle, and lemon rosemary fries with malt vinegar aioli.
Chef Zocco was eager to explain the orgins of this one with me, writing, “Our burger was inspired by the burgers I grew up eating in New Mexico. It’s a traditional burger that keeps things fairly simple, but well prepared. It’s really the green chile that makes the burger what it is. If not for the high quality chile with some good level heat, it’s not going to be the same.
Our burger also adds smoked thick bacon, not something you will find on every burger in New Mexico, but bacon is alway welcome in my belly and in my opinion! This adds that extra level of fat, salt and smoke. We choose to use a brioche bun made here in SLC from Stoneground Bakery. It holds up and offers a nice soft chewiness to the texture and soaks up all the juices! Our beef is Niman Ranch beef, ground in small batches at local beef company Wasatch Meats. Typical blends include chuck, round. ribeye cap and what’s referred to as ‘steak trim’. Niman Ranch offers high quality products from a network of small Ranchers, and they truly care about sustainable and humane agricultural practices.”
Camera-hungry mothers and Easter bunny scares on the latest episode of ‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’
Deseret News Salt Lake City, October 18, 2023 | Next, we find Whitney Rose and her husband, Justin, at Urban Hill, one of Salt Lake City’s newest and hottest restaurants. They order filets and discuss the state of their marriage, which I have no problem with, but they do it just a few inches away from patrons at other tables and it would be tough for me not to eavesdrop if I was one of those other patrons.
Urban Hill is a foodie’s heaven – Pacifico Striped Bass recipe by Urban Hill restaurant
The Place, October 17, 2023 | SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Award-winning Hearth and Hill restaurant and Hill’s Kitchen cafe & catering are known as gathering spots in Park City.
Now the local owners are bringing their vision to a beautiful new restaurant in Salt Lake City called Urban Hill.
It features an oyster bar, a wood-fired grill, curated wine selection, expansive lounge and private dining and patio areas.
Executive Chef Nick Zocco joined us with a recipe for Pacifico Striped Bass with Carolina Gold Rice, Cashew, Yuca, Artichoke, Pickled Onion, Cascabel Chili in Pineapple Sauce.
Experience fine, family dining in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City
Good Things Utah, June 17, 2023 | SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Urban Hill combines great food with good vibes for a delightful dining experience.
While Urban Hill is one of downtown Salt Lake City’s newer fine dining destinations, it’s creators are not new to Utah’s culinary world. Restaurateur Brooks Kirchheimer has experience managing some of the best resort restaurants in Utah as well as developing his own delicious destinations – Hearth and Hill, and Hill’s Kitchen – both located in Park City’s Kimball Junction area. For Kirchheimer, it’s all about family dining.
Taste Utah gives us a sample of the menu and atmosphere available at Urban Hill.
URBAN RENEWAL Vital, Vibrant Cuisine & Ambiance at Urban Hill
Utah Stories, June 9, 2023 | Well, it took me a while to get there. But well worth the wait was a visit to Urban Hill restaurant, which opened back in December on the new, $200 million Post District development that’s revitalizing the gone-to-seed Granary District. In December, Park City’s family-owned restaurant group Leave Room for Dessert Eateries (LRFDE) launched Urban Hill, an eye-popping eatery and bar that would be right at home in any of the world’s glitzy urban centers.
LRFDE Co-owner Brooks Kirchheimer and his talented team previously opened the wildly popular Hearth and Hill in Park City, and then Hill’s Kitchen cafe and catering. About LRFDE’s foray into SLC with Urban Hill, Kirchheimer said, “Salt Lake is one of the country’s most vibrant, fast-growing cities, and we’re eager to provide a fun, energetic gathering spot for locals and visitors alike. As a homegrown group, we’re excited to bring the community an upscale hospitality experience that blends local sourcing with traditional and innovative dishes and beverages. We want to help SLC stake its claim as a serious culinary city, and for the Granary District to join the ranks of Denver’s RiNo and Chicago’s Fulton Market as a major hub for culture and commerce.” Mission accomplished, I would say.
Brunch now on the menu at one of Utah’s very best restaurants
Gastronomic SLC, June 8, 2023 | Hand on heart, brunch never finds me in my cheeriest of moods; forced from comforting covers, usually dragged to a menu of ineffectual coffee and poorly executed eggs. As much disdain as I have for the brioche, I have logarithmic levels of lividity for a clumsy sunny side up. If you see me out in the weekend world before noon, know that I am more than likely unhappy with the state of affairs. There’s always an exception to the rule though. A couple of Sundays ago Urban Hill took the wraps off their new brunch service, and hot damn, even this bleary eyed brunch denier could get on board.
With Bijan Ghiai (formerly Pallet, Copper Onion) at the wheel behind the bar, it goes without saying the lineup of eye openers are intelligent and balanced. The bloody Mary might be the best in the city – there I said it. Actually someone else said it to me, and I tend to agree. It’s a grown up reworking of those nightmarish interpretations spiked with strips of bacon and miniature cheeseburgers. Here the drink is given an umami slap, literally around the glass with green salt – dried and ground sea beans to you and me. On top, shiso leaf, parmesan cracker and salty sardine. You’ll forget the swanky digs of the restaurant when you lick the glass clean. Ok, maybe just me.
FIRST BITE: URBAN HILL BRUNCH
Salt Lake Magazine, June 5, 2023 | Urban Hill was one of my top restaurants to watch when it opened late last year. And they have lived up to my expectations. So when I heard that they were launching Urban Hill brunch on the weekends, I have to confess, I got really excited. The menu takes a charming journey from the ocean to Chef Zocco’s native New Mexico, with a sweet taste from childhood thrown in for good measure.
But before we get into the food, we must talk about the most important element of brunch: the cocktails. On the Urban Hill Brunch menu, they are called “restoratives,” which makes me feel so much healthier in my day drinking. Bijan Ghiai, the beverage manager, put together a creative and playful beverage menu that now extends to brunch. My Urban Bloody Mary was salty and sharp with a brush of heat from the horseradish, which I love. I’m always on the hunt for the most savory, spicy Bloody Mary, and this one filled the bill. Bonus points: it was a work of art. Topped with a shiso leaf, pickled Spanish piparras peppers, and, best of all, a smoked sardine, it checked every savory box. I would come back for this cocktail alone. Another unique restorative at Urban Hill Brunch is the Café Brûlot which fed my morning coffee addiction and paired it with cognac. The spiced amaretto crema and mole bitters rounded things out.
The Post District is poised to be the new “it” neighborhood in Salt Lake City
Utah Business, March 17, 2023 | It’s an early Thursday evening inside of Urban Hill, and the recently opened restaurant is bustling. Urban Hill employees—or “associates,” as they are referred to here—mix cocktails at the bar and prep dinners at the raw bar attached to the open kitchen. Bottles glisten inside a sparkling wine room lined wall-to-wall with hand-selected flavors, and the sommelier is on-hand to discuss which wine pairs best with each menu item.
Patrons are spread out around the restaurant. Some are sitting bar-top watching the action unfold; others are nestled in tables by the fireplace in a space connected to a spacious patio—one of two spots in the fine-dining restaurant designed specifically to host events.
Though busy, the atmosphere is calm and collected, comfortable yet glamorous. Dining inside of Urban Hill feels like being let in on a secret that soon enough, everyone will know.
The Salt Lake Tribune, December 4, 2022 | Urban Hill is set to open this month downtown, in the new Post District development.
The company that owns two of Park City’s better-known restaurants — Hearth and Hill and Hill’s Kitchen — is getting ready to open its first restaurant in Salt Lake City, in a new downtown development.
“We’ll be the first restaurant in a part of Salt Lake that we’re quite confident and optimistic will become a very vital, energetic part of the city,” said David Kirchheimer, co-owner of Leave Room For Dessert Eateries, the group that owns all three restaurants.