TAT Ristorante di Famiglia
Maybe you're like us and you've heard about TAT Ristorante di Famiglia, a legendary Italian dining establishment on Columbus's east side, but you've never been there. Well, after some of the unusual places I've made my fellow critic dine lately, I figured I owed him some straight-up Italian food, which happens to be some of his favorite food. And that's exactly what we got - and enjoyed - at this restaurant.
First established in 1929 by the Corrova family, TAT Ristorante reminds me of what going out to dinner was like when I was a kid, before so many restaurants became either cookie-cutter chains or high-minded concept eateries. It's just very, very homey and comfortable. Could you make a lot of this food yourself at home? Probably, but sometimes it's nice to head out to a meal, and enjoy a basket of really good hot bread, a salad (on a well-chilled plate), a cup of veggie-rich minestrone soup and a big plate of delicious baked lasagna that somebody else made and somebody else serves you. The waitress, who is probably somebody's grandmother, hovered and fussed over us, but didn't overdo it. The décor (which includes framed portraits of the most recent bishops to serve the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus) probably hasn't changed much in the last couple of decades. The women's bathroom was small, clean and had a small diaper-changing station mounted to the wall. The host, also probably somebody's grandfather, made sure no kid left without candy in his or her pocket.
Bottom line, the place oozes family and I really enjoyed lingering over dinner here with mine.
When my mom told me I was going to an Italian restaurant, I expected many different types of pastas and salads, and also more than two sauces on everything. I've noticed with Italian foods they tend to drown it in sauces and I think I've established in two years of writing restaurant reviews that I don't like sauces.
I thought it was nice ordering spaghetti and not asking the waitress to take off anything like cheeses. What I got was spaghetti and meatball (and, yes, I meant meatball because in the middle of the plate there was just one big meatball, which was amazing). I liked the red marinara sauce because it was in good moderation. I also got the wedding soup (I'm not getting married), which was a chicken soup with mushrooms. I thought the soup was really good unless you got a little more mushroom than chicken on the spoon.
For dessert I got spumoni ice cream. I liked it because it was a mix of flavors. I believe it was cherry, pistachio and vanilla. My mother told me it's a traditional Italian dessert.
The bathroom was OK. There was no diaper-changing station in the men's room.
The atmosphere there was really welcoming. I was definitely looking at all the pictures from the past that were on the walls. All of the workers there seemed like they wanted to be there and they were happy to be working there. Sometimes at other restaurants you don't get that feeling.
I definitely enjoyed going to TAT Ristorante and I would go back.