Fine dining surf and turf restaurant by European World Culinary Champion and Master Chef, Imi Kun

Aragosta

Ivins, UT – European, Seafood – $$$ – Fine Dining
Sifter Critique

Nicole O. - Pro SifterMay 31, 2019

Overall 4.5 / 5.0

4.9

Food

5

Service

3.1

Ambience

4.8

Value

Overview

Want an authentic European dining experience right here in Utah? Skeptical at the thought? We were too. Aragosta is the epitome of a hidden gem, located right next to an old post office and run down strip mall in a small town, near St. George, called Ivins. Honestly, it’s the last place that I would have expected a fine dining experience like this!

Aragosta (Italian for Lobster) is run by world renown, Hungarian native and Master Chef, Imi Kun. Their focus is surf and turf dishes with a European flair. Imi has competed against Europe’s finest and is a former Luxemburg World Culinary Champion. He specializes in German, Hungarian, Italian, and French cuisine and brings that to his little twelve table restaurant. What impressed us most about this restaurant was Imi’s personal touch. He went around his restaurant welcoming and speaking to everyone seated like you were an old friend. The mood felt similar to Valter’s Osteria in Salt Lake and was a very intimate atmosphere.

About the chef

Photo Courtesy Imi Kun

He first came to Southern Utah in 1993, on sponsorship from the Hungarian government after the fall of the Iron curtain. He went to Zion National Park during that trip and fell in love with the area. Following the trip, he immigrated to America and founded restaurants like the Ponderosa in Escalante, the Cosmopolitan in Leeds, the Orchid in St. George, and now Aragosta. As with any traditional European restaurant, set aside a few hours prior to coming. You will also need a reservation. However, if you’ve never had Eastern European food before, you’re in for a treat!

Value

For us, the value was there because we enjoy food experiences. Interacting with the chef, the food quality, and the whole vibe really won us over. However, a meal for two here will likely run you $100 so it may not be for everyone.

3 most popular dishes

Hungarian Goulash, the Chilean Sea Bass, and Chateaubriand.

What I ordered

Hungarian Goulash, Sea Scallops, Caramel Bread Pudding Cake, and Apple Strudel.

Food quality

Everything was of the highest quality, starting with the homemade bread and smoked salmon starter. For instance, the sourdough had a nice crisp crust on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. Everything that I would expect from excellent bread. Now to the entrees:

Hungarian Tenderloin Goulash
The tenderloins could easily be pulled apart with a fork. They were slow cooked and moist. The meat was prepared in a creamy paprika and onion flavored gravy, similar to a traditional Hungarian dish called porkolt. The meat was served with fresh with homemade noodles infused with goat cheese. I’m not usually one for goat products due to the gamey taste, but the spices and fresh dill paired well with it.

Sea Scallops:
They were fresh, with a golden crust. Coming out steaming, you knew they were straight from the pan. I had vegetables on the side, which had a nice amount of char. The mashed potatoes were good though a bit dense. The creamy tomato sauce for the scallops was light and flavorful.

Caramel Pudding Cake:
Fresh out of the oven, the dish was evenly warm, moist, and melted in your mouth. The caramel was a bit salty and the chocolate sweet. Combined with the cake they created a nice mocha flavor. This honestly might be the best dessert I’ve ever had. I would come back just for this alone.

Apple Strudel
Being one who doesn’t like most dessert, this dish was beyond amazing! There were too many elements on the plate for my liking considering the strudel is so perfect and needs no additional elements. The tart apple filling was minced and same-day fresh. Sweetened mainly with cinnamon and raisins, it had a delicate flavor profile. The phyllo dough crust was chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The powdered sugar gave it just enough sweetness. Honestly, I would go back just for this. I’m craving it now.

Ambiance

The walls are adorned with random kitschy items, including a few pieces of lobster decor.  The dining area doesn’t fit the quality of the food but the table settings are beautiful. The white tablecloths are crisp and clean and there are fresh orchids on each table. You do feel like you’ve stepped into someone’s home and their treating you to dinner. The staff is knowledgeable and very kind.

What I liked most

The service was amazing and the Chef was friendly. The whole dining experience also felt truly European and reminded us of the meals we’ve enjoyed in Paris, Rome, and Istanbul. The dessert was memorable and delicious, maybe even better than the main courses. We also loved the passion for good food that we sensed from the Chef. He cooks simply because he loves it!

What I disliked most

The dining duration follows that of traditional European restaurants, so it wouldn’t be uncommon to spend 1 to 3 hours eating a meal here depending on the number of courses. We don’t mind since we’re accustomed to that, but it may bother someone unawares.

Also, the presentation felt a bit overloaded. We prefer minimalism when it comes to plating, with the focus being on the main item. There were too many unnecessary garnishes competing for attention. I think having more negative space on the plate would greatly increase the composition.

The verdict

We will definitely be coming back. Southern Utah is lucky to have such an experienced Chef close by!

Overall 4.5 / 5.0

4.9

Food

5

Service

3.1

Ambience

4.8

Value

Overview

Want an authentic European dining experience right here in Utah? Skeptical at the thought? We were too. Aragosta is the epitome of a hidden gem, located right next to an old post office and run down strip mall in a small town, near St. George, called Ivins. Honestly, it’s the last place that I would have expected a fine dining experience like this!

Aragosta (Italian for Lobster) is run by world renown, Hungarian native and Master Chef, Imi Kun. Their focus is surf and turf dishes with a European flair. Imi has competed against Europe’s finest and is a former Luxemburg World Culinary Champion. He specializes in German, Hungarian, Italian, and French cuisine and brings that to his little twelve table restaurant. What impressed us most about this restaurant was Imi’s personal touch. He went around his restaurant welcoming and speaking to everyone seated like you were an old friend. The mood felt similar to Valter’s Osteria in Salt Lake and was a very intimate atmosphere.

About the chef

Photo Courtesy Imi Kun

He first came to Southern Utah in 1993, on sponsorship from the Hungarian government after the fall of the Iron curtain. He went to Zion National Park during that trip and fell in love with the area. Following the trip, he immigrated to America and founded restaurants like the Ponderosa in Escalante, the Cosmopolitan in Leeds, the Orchid in St. George, and now Aragosta. As with any traditional European restaurant, set aside a few hours prior to coming. You will also need a reservation. However, if you’ve never had Eastern European food before, you’re in for a treat!

Value

For us, the value was there because we enjoy food experiences. Interacting with the chef, the food quality, and the whole vibe really won us over. However, a meal for two here will likely run you $100 so it may not be for everyone.

3 most popular dishes

Hungarian Goulash, the Chilean Sea Bass, and Chateaubriand.

What I ordered

Hungarian Goulash, Sea Scallops, Caramel Bread Pudding Cake, and Apple Strudel.

Food quality

Everything was of the highest quality, starting with the homemade bread and smoked salmon starter. For instance, the sourdough had a nice crisp crust on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. Everything that I would expect from excellent bread. Now to the entrees:

Hungarian Tenderloin Goulash
The tenderloins could easily be pulled apart with a fork. They were slow cooked and moist. The meat was prepared in a creamy paprika and onion flavored gravy, similar to a traditional Hungarian dish called porkolt. The meat was served with fresh with homemade noodles infused with goat cheese. I’m not usually one for goat products due to the gamey taste, but the spices and fresh dill paired well with it.

Sea Scallops:
They were fresh, with a golden crust. Coming out steaming, you knew they were straight from the pan. I had vegetables on the side, which had a nice amount of char. The mashed potatoes were good though a bit dense. The creamy tomato sauce for the scallops was light and flavorful.

Caramel Pudding Cake:
Fresh out of the oven, the dish was evenly warm, moist, and melted in your mouth. The caramel was a bit salty and the chocolate sweet. Combined with the cake they created a nice mocha flavor. This honestly might be the best dessert I’ve ever had. I would come back just for this alone.

Apple Strudel
Being one who doesn’t like most dessert, this dish was beyond amazing! There were too many elements on the plate for my liking considering the strudel is so perfect and needs no additional elements. The tart apple filling was minced and same-day fresh. Sweetened mainly with cinnamon and raisins, it had a delicate flavor profile. The phyllo dough crust was chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The powdered sugar gave it just enough sweetness. Honestly, I would go back just for this. I’m craving it now.

Ambiance

The walls are adorned with random kitschy items, including a few pieces of lobster decor.  The dining area doesn’t fit the quality of the food but the table settings are beautiful. The white tablecloths are crisp and clean and there are fresh orchids on each table. You do feel like you’ve stepped into someone’s home and their treating you to dinner. The staff is knowledgeable and very kind.

What I liked most

The service was amazing and the Chef was friendly. The whole dining experience also felt truly European and reminded us of the meals we’ve enjoyed in Paris, Rome, and Istanbul. The dessert was memorable and delicious, maybe even better than the main courses. We also loved the passion for good food that we sensed from the Chef. He cooks simply because he loves it!

What I disliked most

The dining duration follows that of traditional European restaurants, so it wouldn’t be uncommon to spend 1 to 3 hours eating a meal here depending on the number of courses. We don’t mind since we’re accustomed to that, but it may bother someone unawares.

Also, the presentation felt a bit overloaded. We prefer minimalism when it comes to plating, with the focus being on the main item. There were too many unnecessary garnishes competing for attention. I think having more negative space on the plate would greatly increase the composition.

The verdict

We will definitely be coming back. Southern Utah is lucky to have such an experienced Chef close by!

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