First look: Giorgio
An Italian bistro overflowing with flavor
Special to Metromix
This past year three locals and restaurant vets joined forces to bring an authentic Italian cuisine safe-haven to Columbus. Giorgio Italian Restaurant, located in Clintonville right next to Aladdin's, is owned and operated by Giuseppe Mangano of Giuseppe's, John Skaggs of Northstar and George Tanchevski of Aladdin's. As a combined effort, Giorgio's menu consists of chef-designed dishes that are bound to get your mouth watering just by looking at it.
Food: Speaking of the menu, Giorgio serves a traditional assortment of antipasti, insalate and zuppe, followed by entrees and two desserts. When seated the server added that there are no specials because, well, Giorgio is a new place, so right now everything on the menu is special.
That's one way to look at it. The chefs put together a decent assortment of items, for the hungry and then for the very hungry. If you fall into the very hungry category share an order of the bruschetta assortita ($9) with friends. Giorgio's bruschetta is served as a variety plate, with some of the toasted breads having oven dried tomato and herbs, others with artichoke, olive and sun-dried tomato tapenade, and eggplant and roasted red pepper tapenade. The toasted bread was almost too crunchy, but the proportions were just right for three people to share.
The chefs have done some nice work with the entrée list. The penne pollo (penne and chicken, $13) was served with roasted red peppers and spinach in a creamy pesto sauce that was full of flavor. The option to add even a light dusting of fresh cheese on top would have been nice, but none were in sight.
The chicken Marsala with potato gnocchi ($17) is also a great rendition of an Italian classic. It was a very rich dish with a great Marsala sauce, but there was an odd addition of flavors going on with the side of squash spaghetti. The flavors were all right individually, but didn't seem to go hand in hand very well.
The salmon puttanesca ($19), on the other hand, was a delicious harmony of olives, capers, salmon and a tomato sauce. It enjoyable, even for those who may not like fish.
Giorgio's serves two desserts currently, tiramisu ($6) or raspberry white chocolate cheesecake ($6). The tiramisu flavors are all there, but be prepared for a rather unusual version--the ladyfingers are in no way dripping with coffee liquid, and the whole piece is drizzled with a Frangelico cream. There was no noticeable chocolate going on, not even in the sprinkled spice dusted on top. It's a bit of an odd variation, but it's hard not to like tiramisu regardless of new interpretations.
Libations: Giorgio's has a wonderful wall of wines right in the dining area that adds a nice Italian charm to the place, and makes it much more tempting to order a bit of vino. Happy hour goes on Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., offering a dollar off beers and cocktails, with also a nice discount on wine by the glass. The bar is a nice stop for young professionals on their way home from a long day, as well ass for neighborhood locals looking for a new favorite.
Décor: Once the R-Bar space, Giorgio's exterior definitely doesn't give away the warmth of the interior: the outside basic brick contrasts the inside stucco-ed walls, comfortable seats and candles at each table. The environment can go from a comfortable setting for a meal with family or friends to a cozy romantic night out.
Upon first arriving inside Giorgio's you first see the U-shaped bar, adorned with two televisions. Then you are guided to an almost completely separate room for seated dining. Along one wall, tables are matched with booths, a wine rack on another wall, and at the center of the room is a large round table with high-backed, dark fabric-covered chairs that look very plush and waiting for a group of true Italians to come in after a long day and have a lot of hearty laughs.
Service: Our lovely server, Isabella, was very eager to please her new customers, bread with herb butter was served at regular intervals. We always had full water glasses, plenty of offers to drink wine, and she even thoughtfully boxed up my leftovers with a written note letting me know which of the boxes was my dish and saying, "grazie!" Che bella! The rest of the help seemed to be on exactly what Isabella was on, and I would happily go back just to be shown such great customer service.
Crowd: Those who gather at Giorgio are likely to be curious types who are wondering what this new Italian place is all about. That said, people come from across Columbus to check out what the three chefs have created, from people who are fond of Giuseppe's Ritrovo in Bexley to anyone who enjoys Aladdin's rapport but is in the mood for a different type of cuisine.
I noticed a lot of young people having casual meals at the bar, while families and foodies mingled across several tables in the dining area. There were also some restaurateurs from the Columbus area who sounded like they've quickly become regulars at Giorgio.
Insider's Tip: Don't hesitate to ask questions about the new place, from questions about the food to what exactly is in the topping of your dessert, or what the servers suggest as their favorites. Giorgio is new, so questions are appropriate, even encouraged, as is feedback.
Bottom Line: Lying somewhere in the medium-priced dining range-between Olive Garden and Carrabba's, Giorgio serves a delicious menu that won't disappoint.
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