Originally published 8/24/17. Updated 10/17/18.
Trust me, when it comes to Italian food, I play no games.
I’m going to be honest with you Columbus, as far as my favorite things go there isn’t much that ranks above cats and tacos. Terrible television? Maybe. Schooling fools with a witty retort or (as we avocado toast eating millennials like to call it) a “clap back”? Definitely in my top ten. But the one thing that gets me grinning ear to ear more than anything else, that I would dare rank near or above cat-tacos, is some good old, made with love and tenderness, Cucina Italiana.
That’s right, I’m talking soul-food in pasta form, smothered in cheese and awesomeness. With a variety of sauces, pasta, and seasoning styles, almost anyone can find something worth loving about Italian cooking. I’m sure most of Columbus can agree that there’s nothing better than a post pasta food coma. That’s why I made this list of the best in the city. Next time you get the hankering for the saucy, cheesy, good stuff, you’ll know exactly where to go.
More “Italian Pub” than “Family Restaurant”, Villa Nova is perfect for a hearty fix without all the fuss about dining and ambiance. This is the kind of place where everyone knows your name and the staff knows your usual. Here, you can eat a good meal and still enjoy a decent happy hour.
Where: 5545 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214
Carfagna’s is more a fast-casual sort of restaurant, offering you a quick fix for when you have that Italian craving but you don’t have a lot of time. Though it is more of a kitchen of convenience, the food is actually pretty enjoyable and the sauce surprisingly tasty. Give it a shot next time you’re looking for something on the go.
Where: 2025 Polaris Pkwy, Columbus, OH 43240
I actually did a review for this place just the other day, so it’s no surprise I’d include it on the list. TAT offers up some truly hearty Italian dishes in a homey and comfortable family setting. With a huge variety of pizza and pasta options, everyone is guaranteed to love this Columbus East Side staple.
Where: 1210 S James Rd, Columbus, OH 43227
Due Amici offers fine Italian in the downtown area. The spot rests in a beautifully renovated brick building with a warm and cozy ambiance. Perfect for a date night or business dinner, all their dishes utilize locally sourced foods and ingredients.
Where: 67 E Gay St, Columbus, OH 43215
This mom and pop restaurant takes its Italian seriously. Though it may seem a little out of the way it’s definitely a hidden gem worth tracking down for your next night out. They focus on traditional dishes that can change on a daily basis, just to keep the clientele on their toes.
Where: 100 Granville St, Columbus, OH 43230
Marcella’s is a Cameron Mitchell restaurant so you know their focal point is going to be fine, quality food. Accentuated with a list of specialty cocktails and a lively atmosphere, people don’t just come here for fantastic food, they come for a good time.
Where: 1319 Polaris Parkway, Columbus, Ohio 43240 and 615 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215
This fine-dining restaurant caters to a high volume crowd but each dish is made with consideration and care. Though it is another Cameron Mitchell venture, it distinguishes itself with its distinctive modern takes on Italian classics. Definitely a place worth checking out if you’re looking for something refreshing but vintage.
Where: 445 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
This neighborhood restaurant and martini lounge have everything the out-and-about city dweller would want in a great dining experience. Amazing menu, trendy but welcoming vibe, all of it. Love Italian but trying to live that gluten-free lifestyle? Super difficult, I know, but Giuseppe’s has a few options I think might just do the trick.
Where: 2268 E Main St, Columbus, OH 43209
Basi Italia has that hidden intimate feel that I just love in Columbus dining locales. Set smack dab in the middle of a brick alleyway, Basi seems more like a secret dining club than one of the city’s most loved Italian spots. Walking in is a completely different story though. The interior is cozy and inviting, the patio absolutely gorgeous, but best of all is their immaculate and mouthwatering dishes. This is definitely the place to brag about to friends.
Where: 811 Highland St, Columbus, OH 43215
La Tavola is probably Grandview’s best-kept secret and some of the best Italian in the city. Located across from the Grandview Library and next to a dry cleaner, the exterior is pretty nondescript. But inside is a charm all its own, with clean angles, polished wood, and a mellow, calming dining atmosphere. Everything is prepared in-house with locally sourced ingredients. From the pasta to the desserts, all of the food is made, not just with an enthusiasm for cooking, but with a passion for nourishing the community. Everyone who walks through their doors leaves happy, satiated, and pleasantly impressed. If you’ve never been you should definitely make it a point to try them out and soon.
Where: 1664 W 1st Ave, Grandview Heights, OH 43212