Restaurant Review: Scali's

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I'm glad to report that Scali Ristorante in Reynoldsburg has recently reopened. Oh sure, Scali was only closed for a brief summer vacation, but that downtime probably seemed longer to the many fans of this excellent family restaurant.

Note that I write "family restaurant" in the best and fullest sense of that term. You see, the white-tableclothed Scali is often packed with an all-ages crowd of exuberantly chowing and chatting diners, and it's the kind of place where an apron-clad mama makes the rounds inquiring whether your food is OK. It'll definitely be better than OK.

Unlike most area restaurants that call themselves Italian, Scali cooks some authentically Italian-style food. But its biggish menu also contains that beloved, red-sauce-laden Italian-American stuff too.

Throw in delicious dishes somewhere in between and add terrific nightly specials and you'll understand why Scali's two comfy, semi-upscale rooms (plus two nice bars) are frequently teeming with happy people.

Tossed in a "golden" dressing, the Italian salad ($4.50 -- with good black olives, romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomato and onion) was fresher and made with better ingredients than what you usually get.

For something a bit different, the biggie Roasted Pepper salad ($5) mixed fat, long, vividly red roasted pepper strands with snipped basil and jarring raw garlic segments. The visual effect was like a crumpled Italian flag.

Scali's Zuppa ($3.50) was a huge bowl of homey soup with lots of chicken chunks plus a ton of diced veggies in a good homemade broth. The menu called it Wedding Soup, but I'd say this meatball-less starter was more like a soothing chicken vegetable soup.

The best meal opener I sampled here was a nightly zucchini special ($11). Three good-sized boats of cored and roasted to soft and sweet squash were thickly capped with a marvelous mixture of melty cheese, rice, peas and salami all crested with golden-browned breadcrumbs. The textures and flavors reminded me of excellent Italian fried rice balls delivered with bonus vegetables.

A scrumptious seafood special ($29) tasted like dinner in Italy. Perfectly grilled, high-quality shrimp and a very fresh swordfish filet were classically showcased with olive oil, a touch of lemon juice and lots of chopped bright herbs (mostly fresh parsley and oregano). They were served with Scali's super-satisfying side of veggies - steamed broccoli and spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

Also achieving an elegant, genuine Italian-style simplicity was the highly recommended Pollo Rosamarini ($17.50). Two boneless, skinless, plump and tender chicken breast chunks were beautifully treated to a garlic-kissed lemon butter sauce with a flash of fresh rosemary. Loved it.

The hits kept coming with an outstanding and terrifically textured Housemade Ravioli alla Florentine, a great deal ($14.50). A half dozen large and lovely pasta pockets were bathed in a terrific red sauce and packed with a luscious load of spinach and oozing Italian cheese nuanced with a whiff of garlic.

Among the homemade desserts, the wiggly Panna Cotta ($7) was fetchingly served in a cocktail glass with a big and bright -- but not overly sweet -- wild berry sauce.

Scali Ristorante

1903 State Rte. 256, Reynoldsburg

614-759-7764

Web: scaliristorante.com

Price: $$ ($10-$20 per person)

Cuisine: Italian

Patio: No

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday lunch, 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday dinner