Frank and Judy Scali's Reynoldsburg restaurant serves sophisticated Italian-American fare with genuine warmth.

Frank and Judy Scali'sReynoldsburg restaurant serves sophisticated Italian-American fare with genuine warmth.

There are plenty of restaurants that provide competent service, but few conduct themselves so thoughtfully that profits seem secondary to a genuine desire to maximize your happiness. Restaurants that achieve this become local institutions, with a constant customer base of regulars who know each other as well as the staff. Opened by Frank and Judy Scali in 1993, Scali Ristorante is a perfect example.

Service alone does not an institution make, andScali's sophisticated take on Italian-American comfort food more than adequately completes the package. While it would be unfair to diminish Scali as a "red sauce Italian" restaurant, it does so happen that the red sauce items really deliver.

The Vitello Parmigiano ($20.95) generated unbridled enthusiasm from our table. Smothered in a beautifully balanced tomato sauce and topped with provolone, this is one of very few local veal dishes that successfully highlights the delicate flavor of the meat to properly delicious effect. Any restaurant willing to grapple with the ethics of veal owes it to both animal and customer to prepare it with the respect thatScalidisplays in this dish.

While the veal represents the pricier end of the menu, the lasagna ($11.95) tests it at its most basic. As perhaps the most widely known Italian-American dish outside of spaghetti and meatballs, the very notion of lasagna almost inevitably evokes powerful childhood memories. The ideal lasagna should flatter that nostalgia and then improve upon it. Generously portioned, slathered in meat sauce and filled with a litany of cheeses and salami,Scali's rendition does exactly that.

Though presented with properly steamed clams and spot-on al dente pasta, the linguini with clams ($19.50) fell short of the standards set above. Its under-seasoned white wine with garlic sauce offered little wine flavor and despite generous amounts of sliced garlic, displayed little garlic flavor either. Conversely, the sticky-sweet sauce of the veal Marsala ($20.95) emphatically overpowered the meat.

That said, the primary takeaway from our visits toScaliwas the desire to return and to immerse ourselves in the pleasant atmosphere the Scalis have gone to great lengths to maintain.