Dinner at Lola's in Gahanna

Shelley Mann, Columbus Alive

Lola's is one of those places I've been meaning to check out forever, and as soon as I made it in, I immediately hated myself for not discovering it sooner. This little Italian trattoria is almost too charming to be true--Lola herself (adorable in an Italian grandmotherly sort of way) greeted us warmly when we walked in with a "welcome to my little restaurant!" I mean. Come on.

And even better, the food is a few notches above typical American-Italian fare. So along with the typical lasagna and chicken parmigiana, there are excellent seasonal specials like these lamb lollipops. They're breaded in panko then fried, and unbelievably tender and juicy. Underneath the attractive fan of lamb was a mound of roasted fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

And that chicken parmigiana is mroe special than the average version, too. Amish chicken breast gets a similar treatment to the lamb, seared with a breading of panko-and-parmesan. It's smothered in melted mozzarella and provolone, then served with perfectly portioned heaps of fresh pasta with house-made marinara and fresh vegetables (more of those roasted sprouts). Chicken parm that doesn't leave you feeling weighed down and overly full? Excellent!