Tonight was my first night in Columbus. I arrived in Columbus at 5:33pm EDT, checked into my hotel and I had to find something to eat. All I had to eat was a really sad turkey sandwich on my flight from Orange County to Chicago.
A Columbian (what do you call someone from Columbus) joined me for dinner and we went to Marcella’s. Marcella’s is part of the Cameron Mitchell group of restaurants. Cameron Mitchell is a renown restaurateur here in Columbus.
We sat to dinner and was presented with a fairly simple menu. Marcella’s offers some traditional Italian dishes like Spaghetti Alla Carbonara, Gnocchi Con Bolognese and Pizza. My dinner companion John and I decided we would order some plates of cheeses, meats and appetizers to make it through dinner. I will visit the Marcella’s in Short North to dine on their regular dinner fare.
We ordered 5 different cheeses which came with some honey and an orange marmalade. We chose: Taleggio, Mozzarella, Aged Provolone, Aged Goat Cheese and Pecorino Di Peinza. We also ordered some Prosciutto di Parma and Sopressata. I was intrigued by the Bresaola, the only beef cured meat they offer. The Bresaola, to me, starts off sweet, then the saltiness comes thru. It wasn’t my favorite, but I didn’t have 3 slices of it! :) In addition to the that we ordered one order of Arancini and one Braised Veal Meatball.
To start it all off, we ordered a Sicilian Caponata which is a Roasted Eggplant Salad with Olives, Capers, Roasted Red and Green Peppers. This is served at room temperature and it surprised me. I’m not a fan of eggplant unless it is stirfried or unless it is roasted and mixed in with scrambled eggs. It tasted light yet lots of flavor. Mixed in with the veggies was some olive oil and roasted pine nuts.
Our server then showed up with two boards of meats and cheeses. Also arriving almost at the same time were the Arancini and the Veal Meatball. The Prosciutto di Parma showed up with Bresaola instead of the Sopressata. Our server noticed the error and brought us another board of that and let us keep the Bresaola. The Prosciutto melted in my mouth. It wasn’t salty and the slices that came off the main piece had some fat, but mostly meat. The instant it hit my tounge I wrapped my mouth around it and enjoyed pure simplicity. With the meats came a small celery salad. Celery salad? Nothing special, cut celery with some olive oil and pine nuts. Simple, but oddly worked well with the meats.
The Arancini (sorry I don’t have photos) was nice and crispy on the outside, but the insides disappointed. Arancini is usually made with the extra risotto from the night before. I have always made them with a piece of serrano ham in the middle. These were lightly fried, but extremely heavy inside. They seemed gummy to me. Now, in it’s defense, its day old risotto, so the texture can be the result of that.
My favorite of the night (next to the Prosciutto) was the Braised Veal Meatball. The meatball was slighly under the size of a baseball and was served in an small iron cast pot from Staub. My first expectation is that it would be tough for some reason. It was not, MOST definitely not. It was so airy, so well seasoned and prepared I wanted 3 more! The tomato sauce it was braised in was slightly salty, but a perfect match to the veal. I don’t know that I can wait til this weekend to have another! :)
We ended our evening with the cheese platter. We had five different cheeses and my favorites of the night were the taleggio, the Aged Goat Cheese and the Mozzarella. The aged Provolone and the Prcorino were way to salty for my taste, but a dip in the honey definitely helped.
Good company and good food, it was a good first night in Columbus.