Classic Columbus Haunts: TAT Ristorante di Famiglia

G.A. Benton, Columbus Alive

First meal served: 1929

Down memory lane: To pronounce TAT correctly, you must spell it out - the letters stand for Transcontinental Air Transport. Why name it that? Well, because thatnow-defunct sky taxiservice used totouch down frequentlyin Columbus.

You want more of an explanation? Then try to figure out the complicated workings of a largeItalian family called the Corrovas. Over eight decades, they'veopened the reputed first Italian restaurant in central Ohio,launched several competing eateries (The Florentine's owners are cousins), frequently moved their businesses around, served the very first pizza ever in Columbus (1934) and eventually merged together at TAT'spresent-day East Side location.

Between the aisles: Outside, you're greeted by a quaint whitebuilding with a pitchedroof and the place's name loudly writtenin the colors of the Italian flag - right besidean airline pilot, naturally. Inside, photos of Catholic clergy plus Roman and Renaissance statuary knockoffs mix it up with pictures of great grandchildren, misty Rococco Italian city scenes and frosted glass. The overall effect is- and I say this with affection- like walking into the official grandparents' abode of theReal Housewivesof New Jersey.

On the plate:Red sauce and homemade pasta, of course. Check out the wonderful Special Lasagna - it's a tangled mountain of thick and texturally terrific housemade egg noodles loaded with a rich, onion-and-oregano-inflected tomato sauce rife with meatball-y beef. Atopthat massive load is a dome of provolone cheeseblistered underthe broiler. Also, you can't beat TAT's huge steal-of-a-giant-$10-meal - their"early bird" specials.

TAT Ristorante di Famiglia

1210 S. James Rd., East Side