SALT LAKE CITY — Community members in Utah are mourning the death of prominent Salt Lake City restaurant owner Valter Nassi, who was known for his authentic Tuscan-Italian cuisine and genuine personality.
Valter Nassi grew up in Monte San Savino, Italy before his journey brought him to Salt Lake City.
He was known around the world for his magical food but especially in Utah, Nassi is remembered for his personality that was larger than life.
"Valter had a unique gift for being able to, he so genuinely loved everybody who came in the restaurant and would appreciate it, that everybody could feel that, you know, and everybody was Valter's best friend. And there was a real legitimacy to that, because he really, truly loved having people enjoy him and his food and everything he was trying to do," said Jeramy Lund, Nassi's business partner.
His personality translated to customers who visited his restaurant, Valter's Osteria, located at 173 W. Broadway.
“I remember seeing him last week, I am one of the few people here that speaks Italian, so every time we talked it was always in Italian, you know, Como esta, how are you?" Said Valter Osteria's waiter Luis Baldeon. "He looked at me and I looked at him… and we both knew.”
“He knew how to navigate this room, how to greet people, how to make people feel good, how to make people feel good about being here, how to make them feel unique, you know special,” he said.
Valter's Osteria hostess Finau Tongutua believes now more than ever that the restaurant should remain open, even when the day would come that Valter himself would pass.
"This is his baby, you know," she said. "He put it before his health, even before his family."
"This was his family," said Finau.
Nassi won many awards throughout the years for his impact on the community and his life story of success.
Tributes to Nassi from prominent Utah leaders poured in following the news of his death.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox called Nassi a "Utah icon" and expressed he will be deeply missed.
The Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance said Nassi has been a pillar of the Downtown area and his legacy will be remembered,
“People from all over the globe know Utah because they know Valter," a statement from Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance said in part. "They know his name, his exuberance, and his love of life. These qualities are greatly needed at this time. His legacy will be remembered for years to come, and his life serves as a model for all to follow."
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall reflected that Nassi "had a way of making everyone feel special and loved."
Valter had a way of making everyone feel special and loved. He was an icon and beloved mainstay in our #slc community. I know thousands the world over will feel this loss. My thoughts and love are with his family and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/SESrxXeMmy— Mayor Erin Mendenhall (@slcmayor) September 21, 2022
Former Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert said in part, "Valter's Osteria is where we go for a great meal and Valter's larger than life personality."
Nassi also had a iconic cameo on the popular reality TV show "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City."