Vittoria cofounder Vince Romanelli hearkens back to his hometown of Alvito, Italy, with a menu of modern and Old-World Tuscan dishes. The kitchen crafts tender housemade pastas for traditional eats such as chicken cannelloni and lemon-pepper linguine tossed with shrimp, and veal osso buco simmers in white wine and spices. Beneath the barrel-vaulted ceiling of a large, open dining area, patrons can also dig into updated entrees such as a pistachio-crusted breast of chicken adorned with marsala-caramel sauce. For dessert, chefs fill tarts with lemon curd made from Vittoria's signature limoncello and surround amaretto and white-chocolate napoleons with fluctuating borders of raspberry coulis. Wines and cocktails from behind Vittoria's marble-topped bar pair with dinner or with the musical stylings of local bands nightly.
The recently renovated brick walls and dark wood paneling of The Bogey Bar and Grill embrace patrons and soak up the warm aromas of a menu of time-tested pub fare. Enjoy a football game or a competitive horse-heckling match on one of The Bogey's many flat-screen televisions while taking on an imaginative appetizer such as the tomato tartare, which gives roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella a basil-tinged balsamic bath ($6). The fried calamari, a golden-battered deep-sea treasure, arrives on plates chaperoned by tangy lime and chipotle-tequila mayo ($9). The Bogey's chefs conduct dough-and-sauce symphonies with pizzas such as the Catalonian, a sweet chorus of manchego cheese, bell peppers, and chorizo ($15 for hand tossed, $12 for flatbread). On Thursday nights, crowds sashay to live music while flexing mouth muscles on ambitiously piled sandwiches. The Bogey's signature entree, pan-seared salmon, satisfies game-day appetites and gives patrons the athletic pep of a half-time speech from a Ferrari ($17).
At The Lazy Chameleon, chefs bring out the best in fresh seafood with tropical flourishes: they serve back-fin crab cakes with creole mustard, for instance, and drizzle cilantro-lime sauce over blackened tilapia. The environs are similarly subtropical, with hanging fishnets and verdant plants enlivening the dining room. In keeping with the jovial atmosphere, guests can try out experimental dance moves to the beat of live music four nights a week or feel the adrenaline rush that accompanies winning a card game at euchre night on Tuesday.
For 10 years, Wholly Joe's has provided the Columbus metro area with made-to-order Chicago-style eats and treats, saving residents a trip to the eerie, ghost-laden terrain of northeastern Illinois. Joe's uses authentic Chicago-sourced ingredients (including Italian sausage, Italian beef, sport peppers, and Turano Bakery breads) to capture the Windy City's savory, meat-packed cuisine. While Joe's does offer traditional Italian and grill fare—burgers, chicken and fish sandwiches, and pastas—its commitment to the mythic triumvirate of deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef is what keeps visitors' salivary glands replacing their th's with d's. The hand-shaped deep-dish pizza ($14.99 for 12", $16.99 for 14") is made from scratch (Chicago's most abundant commodity after political corruption) and can be topped with Second City staples such as Italian sausage, bacon, and hot peppers. Encased-meat enthusiasts can sample an original all-beef hot dog ($2.75) or Polish sausage ($3.35) with mustard, relish, chopped onions, sliced red tomatoes, cucumber, kosher pickle, and sport peppers—all stuffed into a steamed poppy-seed bun like so many cans of beans in a hobo's bindle. The Italian-beef sandwich ($5.39) features a pile of succulent, thinly sliced roast beef on French bread, soaked in the natural juices of its own delicious iniquity, and can be partnered with a side of crinkle-cut fries (regular, $1.89) or a Chicago-style tamale ($1.99).
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.