Sturdy, huge, and basking in the warmth of candles suspended overhead, the community table inside Mia Cucina's Powell outpost is an apt metaphor for the community that frequents the restaurant. At both locations, a sense of hospitality vies with the aromas of house sauces to charm those who walk through the doors. Children—who dine gratis on Mondays and Wednesdays—peruse a specialized menu with mazes and games, absorbing trivia about Italy's climate, its inventions, and the volcanoes that spew marinara sauce. Adults scan their own menu, which embraces Italian staples along with more updated plates, from chicken parmesan to pesto-rubbed mahi-mahi fillets.
When they aren't browsing the cuisine, their eyes might linger on the shelves of the floating bar, where wine bottles and glasses levitate over the counter instead of bogarting the chairs. The surrounding wall mimics gray stonework, adding a rustic cellar ambiance to the setting, though the white cloths draped over each table bespeak modern sophistication. The murmur of conversations between families, friends, and couples pervades the genial space, where Mia Cucina insists "everyone's Italian."
Expert pie tossing and fresh ingredients catapult Romeo’s Pizza into the upper echelons of dough-centric fare. The menu's resident pizzas—ranging from 9-inch bundles of joy ($7.99+ plus $1.50/topping) to full-sheet behemoths ($24.99+ plus $4/topping) perfect for parties with enough space to compose an entire ode to a birthday boy or girl—can be custom-constructed with any combination of six sauces and more than 20 toppings. Patrons preferring demolition without construction can choose one of Romeo’s specialty pies, including Dante’s Peak, a mouth-wowing mountain of sausage, banana peppers, onions, tomatoes, and pepperoni ($15.99 for 12") that fearlessly scales the heights of flavor without recourse to sauce sherpas or pepperoni pack mules. Subs, wings, and crusty-gooey strombolis and calzones ($7.99) further douse the flames of hunger in savory sauces and cheese.
The cooks at each Johnny Buccelli's restaurant location prepare Italian food fresh to order. They grill steakhouse cheesesteak subs with bacon, mushrooms, and bleu cheese and bake pans of pasta layered with Italian sausage, ground beef, and ricotta cheese for lunch and dinner.
Full might be the best word to describe Rotelli. A full bar, rife with red and white wine selections, backs up a menu full of classic Italian cuisine. Rotelli offers food, from specialty pizzas to stuffed calzones and chicken and veal entrees, to accommodate a variety of palate predilections. It wouldn't be a true Italian restaurant without a healthy pasta lineup; Rotelli presents baked ziti, meat lasagna, and penne chicken and broccoli among other gourmet pasta plates.
Warm, natural woods, terra cotta, wrought-iron fixtures, and exposed ceiling beams lend the upscale eatery an Old World charm studded with pops of contemporary green chairs, red lamp shades, and ethereal purple lights glowing above the bar. Overlooking scenic Big Walnut Creek and its surrounding park, the dining room is a romantic and comfortable spot for first dates that's free of the stuffy atmosphere and snooty waiters commonly associated with date-night fare. For an even better view and more intimate outing, hit the outdoor patio, where a fire pit casts flattering light and warm fuzzies on couples, old friends, and former P.E. teachers.
Inside the kitchen at Kingy's Pizza Pub, cooks craft handmade pizzas culled from fresh dough, slather housemade barbecue sauce onto slow-roasted ribs, and pour frosty glasses of draft beer. Kingy's pizza chefs and barbecue gurus have loaded their mantelpieces with prizes, including second place in the Canal Winchester Blues and Ribfest, People's Choice for best sauce at the Pickering Lions Club 2011 Pizza Challenge, and a Pulitzer Prize for being well-groomed. In addition to nibbling on nearby trophies, guests can chow down on hearty burgers after sharing baskets of boneless wings, tangy fried pickle spears, and cheese-covered fries.