Restaurant Review: Checkered Tablecloth Charm at Lola & Giuseppe’s Trattoria
Lola & Giuseppe's Trattoria can be defined in part by its red-checked tablecloths. They engender a particular expectation: Something hospitable and sincere and delicious. When applied in the context of an Italian restaurant, you’d expect generosity too. And you’d be right.
Lola & Giuseppe's is a Gahanna Italian restaurant mainstay. If its tablecloths are relentlessly cheery, other features in the restaurant might suggest something a little more eclectic, as the walls are adorned with more classical prints, and its chairs represent a variety of styles. Reservations are critical. It's about the only way to guarantee a seat during the restaurant's evening-only hours.
But commitment is rewarded with a menu that mixes classic fair with cute touches.
In this spirit, begin with the Pasta Fritto ($9). In execution, it might be recognized as a cousin to Pasta Salvi, a local restaurant dish fondly remembered for its execution of breaded and fried blocks of pasta. At Lola & Giuseppe's, the dish begins with a brick of spaghetti that's been bathed in a cream sauce featuring a blend of mozzarella, provolone and romano. The brick is then breaded, fried and served with marinara. For fans of fried food generally, it's a fun, interesting way start to the meal and a good conversation.
The Sicilian Onion Soup ($5) is a cream-based brew, distinct from more familiar broth-based onion soups. It stews mild onions, cooked soft in a heady mix of stock, marsala and heavy cream. It's finished with a crouton and bits of crunchy, caramelized bacon to add a little variety.
Salads, from a classic Caesar to the house signature items, are built on romaine so there's lots of crunch. The Tuscan Salad ($7) adds to the greens foundation feta, vibrant roma tomato, artichoke heats, olives and spirited red onions. The elements are tied together with a balsamic dressing with the penetrating sweetness of honey. The end result hits on all levels – rich, salty, sweet and crunchy.
All roads lead to Lasagna, though. Because here, you can get your lasagna with alfredo sauce. No, not alfredo instead of marinara, we’re talking about alfredo on top of the already perfect marinara-layered combination. While the use of baked-on bechamel might be common in the lasagna scene, this dish is less often topped with an extra ladle of white sauce. True, the house lasagna could stand on its own with layers of pasta, cheese and ground chuck. But why go halfway when there is a more interesting option that includes an extra dose of richness? ($18 with the alfredo).
For those who need something more in a familiar tradition, the menu also includes choices such as gnocchi, veal parmesan and mushroom ravioli. Chicken Marsala ($23) offers two right-sized chicken breasts braised in a full-bodied marsala sauce with mushrooms. The chicken is served with a respectable, creamy risotto and some green beans.
To round out the meal, there's a selection of traditional desserts (including Cannoli and Tiramisu), plus beer, wines by the glass or bottle, and special options such as house-made limoncello.
Lola & Giuseppe's Trattoria is open Tuesdays through Saturdays and can be found at 100 Granville St. in Gahanna. For more information, visit lolaandgiuseppes.com.
All photos by Susan PostPasta Fritto Sicilian Onion Soup Tuscan Salad Lasagna Chicken Marsala