Sturdy, huge, and basking in the warmth of candles suspended overhead, the tables inside Mia Cucina's Powell outpost are an apt metaphor for the spirit of 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 and absorb trivia about Italy's climate, its inventions, and the volcanoes that spew marinara sauce. Adults scan their own menu, which embraces Italian staples made with fresh and locally sourced pastas along with more updated plates, from chicken parmesan to pesto-rubbed mahi mahi filets.
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."
Ohio may be in the Midwest, but the menu at Windy City BBQ Ribs aims to transport diners to another part of the country. Chef and pitmaster Brandon Shy lives up to his slogan of “Put some south in your mouth!” with a heaping spread of southern-style barbecue, from smoked ribs and rotisserie chicken to Dixie sides such as and potato salad and collared greens. Guests can sign their name on the eatery’s Wall of Fame after enjoying a meal in the small indoor and outdoor seating areas. The meat emporium shuts down each day when the food is gone, so calling or sending up smoke signals in advance is recommended.
The Gooseneck Tavern appeases avaricious appetites with a bounty of beers and a wide-ranging American menu. Introduce jaw muscles to their homonymic brethren with a plate of steamed mussels ($8.95), and let them chat over a bubbling bowl of asiago-cheese dip ($7.95). The burger-bereaved can find solace in the double-stacked delight of the Gooseneck burger, greek burger, or Cajun burger ($7.95 each), and the fish 'n' chips ($11.95) console homesick Liverpudlians. Never neglectful of fermented refreshment, the Gooseneck submerges beer fiends with a deluge of options, boasting 12 drafts on tap, 30 imports and microbrews, and 15 domestic bottles.
Dishes as vibrant and diverse as the UN’s annual Mardi Gras celebration deck the tabletops at Kogen’s, the seventh Asian-influenced eatery borne from the Mark Pi restaurant group. Drawing inspiration from Japanese street food, Chinese dry-food markets, and upscale American cuisine, the chefs craft an artful and varied menu that embodies both traditional favorites and experimental creations. Here, helpings of pad thai and hunan chicken share real estate with kung pao lo mein and sashimi platters. The signature sushi rolls dabble in a range of flavors, for example, the Margarita roll combines spicy tuna with avocado, lime, and wasabi mayo, and the Fire Dragon roll sets tongues ablaze with tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, spicy mayo, and sriracha sauce.
Aromas of searing meats and vegetables waft from fiery hibachi grills inside Tanuki Japanese Steakhouse Sushi & Bar. Chefs dexterously slice pieces of calamari, chicken, and new york strip steak atop the grills' scorching surfaces, creating bite-sized servings for diners. Behind the sushi bar, other chefs devote themselves to rapidly assembling layered nigiri and carefully rolled maki. Besides traditional rolls, they also experiment by incorporating such flavorful ingredients as chicken tempura, sweet chili sauce, and jalapeños into their special rolls.
Praised by Columbus Dispatch for its elegant minimalism and the value of its rolls, Tokyo's Sushi rolls fresh catches inside tasty cylinders of rice with an eye to polished presentation. Dining tandems can play Marco Polo with their chopsticks as they navigate a crunchy seaweed salad sprinkled with sesame dressing, prepping palates for the onslaught of specialty rolls to come. The rainbow roll displays a prismatic synthesis of crabmeat salad and avocado topped with tuna, salmon, and shrimp, whereas the Star roll pairs peppered tuna, caviar, spicy mayo, and crisp tempura flakes in time for a midmeal crunch competition. After diving fang first into deep-fried shrimp-tempura and spicy-tuna rolls, a four-piece sushi assortment puts a cap to the fresh-fish feast, inviting dining duos to split them equally or divide them according to who has the most mouths.