Sweet frosting on a layered petit four. Intricate notes emanating from a nearby piano. Steam rising off a teacup as it sits on a delicate saucer. Signs of old-world elegance permeate every corner of Mozart's Bakery and Piano Cafe, and owners Anand and Doris Saha wouldn't have it any other way. The European-trained couple had been slinging their famed tortes and sugary delicacies in the Columbus area for more than 17 years, having learned the ins and outs of pastry making when training in some of Europe's best restaurants and hotels. Mozart’s has more than 80 authentic European delicacies, which have snagged them titles including Best Dessert from Columbus Alive and Best Bakery from Columbus Monthly. Petit fours and truffles are created using imported ingredients from Europe. Continental favorites ranging from beef stroganoff and chicken cordon bleu to bavarian-style wiener schnitzel reproduce the timeless flavors found in dining rooms from Marseille to Munich.
During their European-inspired afternoon tea, a mini meal of pastries parades to tables arm in arm with a steaming cup of 1 of 16 different loose-leaf teas. Alongside decaf and herbal blends, english-breakfast, earl-grey, darjeeling, and rose-petal teas steep in mugs, letting mitts warm up after stealing the noses of arctic explorers. Canapés come in one-bite flavor explosions crowded with curried chicken salad, tomato and provolone, and smoked salmon with cream cheese. Miniature scones cloaked in devonshire cream and fruit preserves serve as diminutive feasts, and peach marzipan and chocolate petits fours, gluten-free truffles, or tea cookies drop a sweet curtain over the afternoon snack.
Soon, Mozart's culinary team will pair this commitment to European elegance with an equally stately local landmark: beginning in early 2013, the cafe will occupy a new spot in the historic halls of High Street's iconic Cord Camera building.
Old Blue Eyes casts his piercing gaze across the red-walled dining room as the opening strains of “Strangers in the Night” drift into the ears of diners seated at tables dressed in white linens. The aura of a refined 1960s club permeates every nook and cranny of Trattoria Roma, thanks in part to the assortment of framed Sinatra records and photos displayed behind the bar and the ever-present Rat Pack tunes playing throughout the day. Since its opening 22 years ago, the eatery's owners have fostered a cozy-yet-refined atmosphere bolstered by authentic Roman cuisine forged from local ingredients. This tradition continued eight years ago when veteran employee Shawn Mason took over the restaurant’s reigns from the original owners. Though he brought his own brand of hospitality to the mix, he made sure to uphold the kitchen’s tradition of high culinary standards.
As Shawn cheerfully chats with regulars scattered throughout the dining room and at the bar, his partner, chef Matthew Prokopchak, can be found architecting Italian eats with his crew in the kitchen. Having grown up learning the conventions of Italian cooking from his mother and aunts, chef Matthew integrates some of his family’s recipes into the menu, imbuing his dishes with a sense of history and tradition. He assembles his arsenal of fresh produce –from lush tomatoes to fragrant basil– from local farms. While the menu remains largely unchanged throughout the year, each night the friendly service staff sidles up to tables to detail the day's seasonal specials via verbal recitations or interpretive dances.
Amid the dining room’s ruby walls, a series of Orfeo Tamburi lithographs depicting post-WWII Rome––reportedly the only complete Tamburi collection in the United States––hang in elegant frames. The décor works in concert with the savory wafts of garlic emanating from the bustling kitchen to evoke a vintage Italian atmosphere.
Basilicata proudly refers to itself as the instep of Italy. Its pedestrian nickname, however, belies its scenic and gastronomical riches—the volcanic vineyards, the cliff-cut coastlines, and the ancient, gnarled olive trees that inspired recipes passed down for two generations until they reached the kitchen of Giorgio Italian Restaurant. In 2008, the recipes stood the test of time when Giorgio was named one of the Best New Restaurants by Columbus Monthly. Currently, Chef Todd McCall curates and expands upon these family recipes for menu items such as bolognese sauce and meatballs.
Giorgio's Mediterranean influences extend to its décor, where crisp white tablecloths stand next to a grapevine mural and a rustic wall-mounted wooden wine rack. On the outdoor patio, pots of parsley, basil, and lemon verbena bloom at tables' edges.
At a monthly jazz night, cool rhythms and melodies drift through the eatery. Just as regularly, wine tastings strike an education-entertainment balance as Giorgio's oenophiles pinpoint flavor notes and teach diners how to tell red wine apart from bourbon simply by sniffing it.
Divine De-lites owner Kim Herring didn’t set out to become full-time baker. “I was really more of a cook,” she says, “but then whenever we had family functions I always baked stuff.” But not just any "stuff"––breads and cookies that had family and friends raving. For nearly 10 years, others tried to convince her to turn her part-time passion into a career, and when the economic downturn led her to leave her job in the corporate arena, she decided to do exactly that.
To craft her treats, Herring employs family recipes––including one for a much-lauded banana bread––and formulations she developed herself using organic and local products whenever possible. Cookies are her No. 1 specialty, which she whips up in flavors such as oatmeal apricot, peanut butter, and almond butter with fig, and can be made gluten-free, sugar-free, or disguised as salads to suit a range of dietary concerns. But it’s her chocolate-chip cookies that are the real crowd pleaser. “They’re kinda crispy on the outside, but when you break ‘em open they’re real soft on the inside. And [there are] lots of chocolate chips.”
Barrio Tapas Lounge's executive chef sweeps from Spain to South America by preparing a rotating menu populated by Spanish fusion tapas. The restaurant’s gustatory gurus plumb the depths of the ocean to plate mahi-mahi and shrimp, and landlocked dishes lavish chili and butter-sage sauces on meat ranging from chicken to veal. A spread of cheese and charcuterie treats the senses to goat's- and sheep's-milk cheeses alongside paprika- and garlic-cured meats. The lengthy list of Argentinean and Chilean wines doubles as 2018's list of must-have baby names.
The dining space mirrors Barrio's artful approach to tapas, its leather couches and cow-spotted cushions set beneath high, wooden ceilings. During the restaurant's opening buzz, a reporter from the Columbus Dispatch highlighted the interior’s “industrial fixtures and natural surfaces designed by George Acock,” including “a sweeping bar that features tables made of thick slabs cut from trees in North Carolina.”
For a full century, members of the Manus family have manned the counter at Phillip's Original Coney Island, serving their signature Coney Island hot dogs topped with onions, special Coney sauce, and cheddar cheese. All the way down from Phillip Manus, who opened the eatery in 1912, to his great-grandson Nicholas Manus, who runs it today, Phillip’s has served an old-fashioned menu of hot dogs, burgers, battered-bottleneck fries, and hand-dipped milk shakes, pairing each serving with fresh-baked cornbread. Following the original 100-year-old recipe, cooks dip their ladles into simmering chili pots brimming with lean ground beef, vine-ripened tomatoes, a secret blend of spices, and Woodrow Wilson’s eyeglasses. Alternatively, they added a few modern twists to recipes, coating their buffalo chicken fingers with Frank's Red Hot Sauce and crowning barbecue burgers with Sweet Baby Ray's sauce and crunchy coleslaw.