Italian twist

photo by Anne Jansen

For my birthday, my husband took me to a small restaurant near where we live: Giorgio’s Italian Restaurant. It all began with this little house salad…leaps and bounds above a standard iceburg-based boring salad, this one had pine nuts and freshly sliced asiago cheese and was drizzled with a pleasant vinegar concoction. Simple but satisfying. And then came the entree: fried cheese ravioli. Fried? you ask? Why yes, fried. I’ll admit to being somewhat afraid right before digging in, but once I tasted it I was sold — this odd twist on a classic Italian dish was actually very good! Throw in the house-made marinara sauce and you have what I had: a hearty Italian treat.

photo by Anne Jansen

surly feast

photo by Anne Jansen

The Surly Girl Saloon is a little hole in the wall restaurant and bar, and it’s one of my favorites because of its unique and creative menu. This time, I had the southwestern shells & cheese. It has tomatoes and peppers and corn and black beans in it, and multiple kinds of cheese. It’s one of my favorite comfort food dishes in all of Columbus.

pizza yum yum

photo by Anne Jansen

After two years of trying different kinds of pizza in Columbus, I’ve discovered the answer to the great question of what pizza parlor is the best in town: Adriatico’s New York Style Pizza. Located near the intersection of 10th and Neil, Adriatico’s (which is so good that it doesn’t require a website) is one of the few pizzas that has a delicious crust — one I actually find edible (I’m picky about crusts). Their thick crust, or Sicilian, pizza has a light and almost flaky crust. Their menu boasts 18 different toppings; 4 different sizes (including small/personal, medium, large, and Buckeye); 3 different thicknesses (x-thin, regular, and Sicilian/thick); 4 different specialty pizzas; and a host of salad, sub, and pasta dinners. Even my husband, who’s notoriously picky about his pizza, enjoys Adriatico’s pizza.

tried and true

photo by Anne Jansen

I’ve been eating at Cam’s for two years now, and this flatbread — the Greek Vegetable Flatbread sans kalamata olives — is one of my favorites. It’s light and crispy at the edges, but warm and melty everywhere else. Sadly, Cam’s is closing on August 27 (so if that link stops working, that’s why) so I will no longer be able to enjoy a flatbread as I conduct office hours in the haven of this hidden cafe. But until then, it’s delicious flatbreads and my other favorite, the Blueberry Yogurt Spill….

fair food

photo by Anne Jansen

I went to my first-ever state fair yesterday, and it was the Ohio State Fair. Of course, Ohio being the Buckeye State, a friend encouraged me to try the fried buckeyes. While the buckeye nut is poisonous, nobody eats it — instead, they eat a dessert called buckeyes (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate). I was apprehensive at first, but as soon as I saw them batter the buckeyes, I knew it was going to be delicious. The chocolate coating on the buckeyes melted right into the batter upon frying, leaving the peanut butter ball soft and warm. The powdered sugar and chocolate syrup topping off this treat-on-a-toothpick just made it that much more scrumptious.Another state fair delicacy I experienced was cotton candy…but this was no ordinary cotton candy. No, this treat is un-dyed cotton candy made from maple sugar. For the first time in my life, I realized just how appropriate the name “cotton candy” is for this sugary treat. Just look at the picture below, and you’ll understand how I initially mistook this sweet for a bag of actual cotton. The maple sugar gave it a distinctive flavor (if you’ve ever had maple syrup, this should be too difficult to imagine), and it was as light and fluffy as this carnival dessert always is.

photo by Anne Jansen

better-than-a-pub

photo by Anne Jansen

Bodega may boast 50 beers on tap and an extra-long happy hour (M-F from 4-8pm), but they’re not your average pub. In fact, they’re not average in any sense of the word. From their excellent service to their delicious food, Bodega is definitely an eatery I will be returning to! Their nachos were delicious (for nachos in Ohio), having enough heat from the jalape├▒os to make my eyes water and my nose run (a good thing, in my book). But more than that, their “brownie” was incredible. This was not so much a brownie as a wedge of solid chocolate served up with blueberries, strawberries, berry sauce, and whipped cream. It was so much better than the expected brownie with fruit, and ended up lasting for two incredible rounds. If you’ve never been to Bodega, you should definitely fix that!

photo by Anne Jansen

irish surprise

I ended up eating at the Claddagh Irish Pub in downtown Columbus purely by accident. I’d driven downtown to eat elsewhere, only to discover that restaurant was closed. Upon leaving, still seeking a good eatery, I happened upon the Claddagh (which I’ve heard about because of its use by fans of the Columbus Crew) and decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised by their unusual menu. I tried out the fruit and cheese plate (pictured below), which was admittedly limited but also very good (and only $3).

photo by Anne Jansen

And of course, the main course: mac and cheese. It was creamy and cheesy…the perfect comfort food. The bread crumbs on top gave it a nice texture, and the use of corkscrew pasta as opposed to elbow pasta was really refreshing. It was the perfect meal for a rainy day, and the servers were friendly and attentive. A good Magic 8 Ball would say “chances are good” I’ll end up here again.

photo by Anne Jansen

an old classic

photo by Anne Jansen

I found myself back at Tasi recently when I decided to meet up with a couple of girlfriends for some lunch. We wanted something light but satisfying, and that’s something Tasi always delivers. I went with their grilled cheese this time, and it was a good choice. The sandwich consists of aged cheddar and fresh tomato on a sourdough panini…and it was deeeee-licious. It came with a generous helping of Tasi’s house-made potato chips, which were also light and satisfying. The Magic 8 Ball would say “It is decidedly so” that I will return to Tasi for more culinary adventures!

inspired breakfast

photo by Anne Jansen

The Northstar Cafe in Columbus, OH, is a definite favorite of mine. Their food philosophy is a close match to mine — buy local, go organic, be humane — and their food is always a treat (even though their service is often lacking and their prices are a bit steep). However, I rarely get to experience breakfast there, and was lucky to do so the other day when I got the Big Burrito (pictured above) — a morning meal of sauteed veggies and eggs packed into a tortilla. I also got a side order of the Cloud Nine Pancakes (pictured below), which are definitely a heavenly concoction. They are light and fluffy, topped with banana slices, and they have a surprise ingredient: ricotta cheese! If you love pancakes, you really should try these. They’re one of a kind. Northstar’s breakfast menu is creative and unique — I’d recommend it to any breakfast lover.

photo by Anne Jansen

hidden treasure

photo by Anne Jansen

Tasi is one of my new favorites in Columbus, OH. Hidden in an alley off of High Street in the Short North, it’s a great little place that proudly touts its philosophy in its logo: Fresh, Local, Seasonal. One of my favorite dishes at Tasi is their buttermilk pancakes, which are at least six inches in diameter, and are typically served with a side of bacon. Of course, I’m a vegetarian, but the staff at Tasi is always accommodating and happily allows me to substitute a side of fresh fruit instead. It may be small, but it’s a friendly place with lots of natural light in the room, and lots of natural food on the menu.

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