Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Rigsby's, Columbus Ohio
Having completed a hectic month on the hospital wards, my intern, medical students, and myself decided a celebration was in order. Hailing from different states, countries, and cultures (two of them arriving in the states only months ago) with the additional caveat of a vegetarian in the group, Italian seemed a safe bet and while Lindey's is certainly more "Columbus," we settled on Rigsby's based on its long history of positive reviews and focus on local/seasonal ingredients.
To sum up the experience in a word? Fantastic. Finally I've found an Italian place worth getting excited about in Columbus. As a matter of fact, without overselling, I can honestly say there were moments of this meal that rivaled the mighty Babbo in quality, taste, and texture and while the service wasn't the best ever, it was certainly on par with anything I've found in Columbus outside of M at Miranova.
Arriving at 7:00pm on a Friday without reservations a table was quickly preparred and we were seated immediately. Arriving at the table there was already 3 delicious breads present as well as ice cold water. Per usual, three breads is the perfect number and all three were superb: a soft yet crusty italian, a sweet yet salty basil poppyseed, and a hearty and lucious whole grain with raisins and walnuts. The butter was unremarkable, but smooth and warm enough that spreading did not tear the bread.
Our waitress arrived shortly and after declining wine service we were told of the nightly specials, 5 in total, all sourced from products bought that day locally, and all sounding delicious. For an appetizer I selected the Squash Blossoms stuffed with Ricotta and topped with Arugala with Tuscan Tomato Sauce. While the dish was pricey at $8 for a mere two blossoms, the flavor was intense and the dish was wonderful in flavor. In retrospect I wish I would have opted for the freshly cracked black pepper, however, as the dish could have used just a little more oomph.
For our mains a number of dishes were selected including the Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage (great per my student,) the Basil Ravioli with Tomato and Parmigiano-Reggiano (mmmmm, wow per another student,) Spaghetti D'Angelo with Sundried Tomatoes, Garlic, and EVOO (kinda plain per another student) and the Free Range Chicken alla Mattone, Panzanella, Buttered Scallions (Awesome according to my intern, notably not a fan of 'fancy' food.)
As the biggest (IE only) foodie of the group, I opted for the half order of Tagliatelle with Pesto Genovese, Fingerling Potatoes, and Green Beans and half order of Potato Gnocchi with Prosciutto di Parma, Basil, Tomato, and Balsamico. While the Tagliatelle was flavorful, perfectly al dente, and a great contrast with the crispy potatoes and clean/snappy greenbeans, the show was entirely stolen by the BEST Gnocchi I've ever had in my life. Toothsome, hearty, thick yet completely cooked, and covered with a perfect tomato and balsamic sauce while complimented by a thin piece of perfectly textured prosciutto......my only complaint is that I didn't get the full order. Better gnocchi than the mighty Batalli......wow.
After a meal like that dessert was a no brainer and like many other Cbus standards, Rigsby's does it right by pairing their complex desserts with Ms. Jeni's stellar icecreams. As two of my colleagues had never experienced Jenni's, this was a treat in and of itself. While others opted for Lemon pannacotta, Molten Chocolate Cake w/ Jeni's Vanilla (noted by one to be the best chocolate cake ever,) and a Cookie plate with espresso semifredo and Jeni's Salty Caramel, I chose the seasonally inspired Blueberry, Plum, and Peach Crostatta with almond clusters and Jenni's Honey Vanilla Icecream......once again, better than Batalli with a crispy yet airy purse of dough lightly cupping a generous serving of fresh berries and berry puree served along with crispy almond clusters and that glorious icecream.....amazing.
Admittedly the TVs in the bar were slightly offputting and the kitchen was a little slow with the meal taking well over 2 hours for only three courses, but bread and water were refilled rapidly and repeatedly throughout the evening and the conversation was good so I've certainly no complaints there. Noise level was pleasant for conversation and certainly not the roar or Tucci's or Trattoria, which was a welcome suprise for Cbus Italian, as well. Regardless of these minor flaws, the food MORE than made up for any atmospheric shortcomings and the meal was stellar. I'll certainly be back as the winter squashes come in and will hope that the oft-raved pumpkin ravioli makes a return.
For now, 4.5 star food and 4.0 star atmosphere......and the best Italian in Cbus, by far.