2820 Nottingham Rd.
Columbus, OH 43221
Best thought of as a neighborhood spot along Upper Arlington’s Route 33 corridor in suburban Columbus, the Gallo family opened Gallo’s Kitchen and Bar as the second concept in its Central Ohio restaurant group, uniting the very unlike Italian and Creole cuisines under one menu. The atmosphere is more one of a casual dining shop, but the menu has a great deal more creativity than meets the eye. Good cajun food doesn’t immediately seem like it would be paired with comparably simpler Italian cooking, but there you’d be pleasantly surprised.
You have to try both sides of the menu to get a good feel for the place. Some of the things I liked:
- Pasta Russo: The signature pasta option here is a cavatelli past topped with a thick, chunky bolognese made with pork, beef and veal. So it’s not super saucy, and the thicker plate-shaped pasta is more on the chewy end than you might expect from spaghetti. Don’t discount it though! It’s an example of where that heavier cajun hand interprets Italian classics in a different way.
- Jambalaya: A cajun classic! Chicken, a smokey andouille sausage, and just a bit of ham. This dish, on the other hand, is wonderfully saucey, and if you like it, can be very, very spicy too. I recommend this one as a first dish to try.
- Mahi Mahi: This was a fish of the day one of the weekend nights. Thick and grilled well! Made simply, too, with some scallions and spices to top but not too much to overwhelm the dish. Best with another veggie that is similarly simple.
- Salmon: Simpler of course, but the cajun spices always add a new dimension of flavor to fish. Salmon doesn’t need a lot of interruption, the fish just needs to be cooked well. It’s a nice proper delicate handling of the fish.
This part of Columbus has a number of unique concepts, but really few of them feel as comfortable in their neighborhood as this one does. The prices are good and the feel, really is the best part. Definitely comfortable. Friendly staff. Nice selections of wine and cocktails. Yep, this is a spot that you want to go to spend some time, or an intimate night.
Columbus has a surprising number of unique concepts that combine great food and drinks. But the city is changing, and places that feel quite as comfortable as this one can be hard to come by. Cajun food just needs more exposure in the Yankee-sweet Midwest, and this is a perfect introduction for it.
- Dine in if at all possible, because the atmosphere is a big part of what’s so great in the place.
- The jambalaya is a good beginning dish, or a house pasta. That one, though, might be good to share.
- Maybe think about trying that nice wine menu.