No, this is NOT the Michael Symon restaurant! Lola's was a restaurant that operated for quite a few years directly on the river in downtown Gahanna (LOL). It closed about 7-8 years ago and has recently re-opened in a strip shopping center off Granville St. just east of the Gahanna Grill. The owner, Joe, is a character straight out of Central Casting, a wizened Italian man who seems well versed with pasta and his appearance is a good proponent for his cooking.
We happened on this little hole in the wall after a frustrating experience when the couple we were supposed to have dinner with at another venue cancelled at the last minute. Mr. Diane had heard this place reviewed on WOSU and suggested it. Arriving around 7:15 p.m., we were surprised to receive a table for 2 almost immediately, as the place holds around 15-20 tables and was otherwise packed.
The menu is traditional Italian specialities, didn't see a lot of innovation, but hey, traditional executed well is very tasty. We were seated in a tiny room, the size of a large master bedroom, with 2 other tables. We decided to forgo appetizers and concentrate on soup and entrees.We both chose the Italian wedding soup. Mr. Diane ordered the homemade mushroom ravioli and I chose the veal saltimbocca. Eachof the entrees came with a house salad with oil & vinegar dressing.
We ordered our meal and good cheesy garlic bread was immediately brought to the table. Mr. Diane adores bread and ate lots, as it was replenished frequently. This was a good sign. We received our salads fairly quickly and the kitchen observed the NO BELL PEPPER request for Mr. Diane, as he has a severe allergy and can be in the ER almost immediately after consumption (similar to anaphylactic shock - that's another story). The soup came out a minute or two after the salads, which we thought was a little strange. In our house, we have the soup course first and then salad.
The soup was delicious, althogh a little too cool for me (I have asbestos mouth according to DH). Filled with a rich, homemade tasting chicken soup, it had large chunks of carrots, onions, cubed chicken, fresh spinach, orzo and another starch, perhaps couscous, perhaps another type of small pasta I am not familiar with. I was too hungry to send the soup back for reheating. It came in a beautiful decorative bowl that could do double duty for French onion soup. The restaurant is decorated very simply, but has many painted ceramics which add a charming touch and the dinnerware is equally charming.
OK, so far soup and salad arrived promptly and were delicious. Then we waited for our entrees. And waited, and waited, and waited. The table of four sitting next to us waited a long time for their entrees as well, but their veal parmigiana and eggplant parmigiana looked scrumptious. The woman at the table for 2 sitting behind us moaned out loud (not kidding!) while consuming her dessert, choclate gelato and some type of cupcake. It reminded me a little of Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. I said to our waitress, I'll have what's she's having for dessert!
To make a long story short, it took 45 minutes after soup & salad to get out entrees. The waitress kept apologizing, Joe the owner came to our table and sat down with us to explain how busy the kitchen was that night as all patrons arrived within a few minutes of each other. He offered to give us dessert for free to make up for our wait.
Then finally the entrees came. Yes, this was actually worth waiting 45 minutes for. I wondered whether Mr. Diane would have enough to eat, as he is BIG eater, but there were 8 large ravioli in a brown mushroom sauce. He smiled upon biting into the first one and I knew better than to ask for a taste. He said this was one of the best meals he has had in months (except for my cooking, of course), devoured every bite and used his garlic bread to clean out the large bowl. He couldn't have cleaned it any better if he had sent it through the diswasher! His meal was $14 very reasonable for such a large portion.
On to my veal, this is a Saturday night special. For $17, this was a steal. You get a 6 oz (guesstimate) piece of pounded veal scaloppine, seasoned properly and with a hint of fresh sage, with a white wine brown veal sauce. Accompaniments were garlic mashed potatoes, left chunky really more smashed than mashed, which I enjoy very much. The vegetable was perfectly steamed crisp asparagus left unadorned, another item I enjoyed very much. Would I order this again? Yes, in a minute. Veal is hard to get in Columbus, both in retail markets and restaurants. This was executed superbly. Hope this stays on the menu.
DH had the choclate gelato/choclate cupcake which he declared yummy and not willing to share! I took home a piece of carrot cake, which DD said was very moist and cream cheese filling heavenly. The check for all this before tip was $39.50, a real value in my book. We will be back!