Colder weather calls for warm, filling dishes, and few fit the bill better than pasta.
While many global cuisines have some type of noodle dish, Italian pasta often first comes to mind.
And the best thing about Italian restaurants in Greater Columbus is the level of diversity and skill that goes into making some of the city’s best pasta dishes.
Gimme a hand:Five local dishes to eat without utensils
It isn’t uncommon to find homemade pasta twirled in an authentic rustic sauce and fresh ingredients.
We all have our favorites, from neighborhood, red-sauce restaurants to more sophisticated destinations. Yet, noodles are a great vehicle for chefs to express their creativity and, oftentimes, just serve a nice plate of comforting food.
Here are six pasta dishes to try in Columbus.
Small and unpretentious, Caffe DaVinci is the quintessential neighborhood spot, dishing up classic American-Italian favorites for 16 years.
Despite its modest menu and prices, Caffe DaVinci makes much of its food from scratch, including the spaghetti, tomato sauce and all-beef meatball ($18.20).
Owner Matthew Phelan grew up in Dublin and studied for a degree in communications at The Ohio State University before packing up his cutlery and heading to New York, where he learned a different kind of skill: Italian technique.
Located in a new building, Novella Osteria has an intentionally worn, Old World look.
Phelan is serious about the food he plates, especially pasta.
A perennial favorite dish is the butternut squash ravioli ($24). Adding creaminess and an assertive bite are mascarpone, Grana Padano and pecorino. The ravioli are tossed with sage brown butter and garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds, aged balsamic and chestnuts.
Always something new:Repetition not on the menu at innovative Aubergine Private Dining Club
Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, which opened earlier this year on the Far North Side of Columbus, is reminiscent of the Italian supper clubs of yore.
Located in the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites complex in the Easton area, Johnny’s has a wide-ranging menu of steaks and chops, lasagna, calamari, stuffed mushrooms and risotto, among other choices.
One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is the Chanel No. 5: blended cheese ravioli with lobster, shrimp, artichokes and prosciutto tossed in a cream sauce.
The upscale Italian restaurant, owned by celebrity chef Fabio Viviani, is located in the Westin Great Southern Hotel.
While known for more than pasta, house-made noodles are the specialty.
The Calabrian chili campanelle ($28), rolled pasta that looks like little flowers, offers littleneck clams, garlic, olive oil, butter, parsley and basil in a white-wine sauce.
A relative newcomer on the dining scene, Pelino’s Pasta is known for carefully crafting pasta dishes by sourcing as many local and imported Italian ingredients as possible.
Vinny Pelino, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Christina, the pastry chef, changes the menu once a month to introduce new pastas, flavors and textures to his diners.
A dish that commonly appears throughout the year with a slight adjustment or change of pasta is the carbonara, an early customer favorite.
Part of a fixed-price menu ($49 for three courses, $64 for four courses), the current version offers homemade spaghetti, guanciale (wild boar cheek), sharp pecorino-Romana cheese and pasture-raised egg yolk, which is tossed in the hot pasta for a creamy effect. Ground black pepper finishes the plate.
Have it your way:6 restaurants where you get to design, cook custom meals
Tommy Gallo, the co-owner and chef of Gallo’s Kitchen in Upper Arlington, is known to be rather finicky about his food.
While the restaurant is warm and the atmosphere convivial, Gallo is serious about his menu, a solid mix of Creole and Italian.
The pasta Russo ($14 for a small, $17 for a large) is the signature dish, starting with braised beef, pork and veal braised with red wine, herbs, spices and tomatoes.
Cavatelli, the pasta of choice, is pan-tossed with the Bolognese sauce and finished with a dash of Parmigiano-Reggiano.