The Polaris-area restaurant impresses with a wide variety of homemade Italian fare.

Melissa Kossler Dutton and her sons, Nick, 15, and Alex, 13, visited Carfagna’s Kitchen, a sit-down restaurant owned by the family that runs the popular Carfagna’s Market in Northland. 

Mom Says…

When a friend recently brought meatballs from Carfagna’s Market to a potluck, it reminded me that I’d been wanting to try Carfagna’s Kitchen. The restaurant, which the family opened on Polaris Parkway in 2007, showcases the recipes they have used in their market and catering business for decades.

The restaurant had a great vibe: family-friendly, comfortable and with a helpful staff. We spent a lot of time poring over the large menu featuring Italian staples such as lasagna, eggplant parmesan and spaghetti Bolognese. Our waitress was patient, returning multiple times before we made our choices.

While we deliberated, I ordered the Carfagna Bread ($6.99), a delicious blend of garlic bread and bruschetta, and CeCe’s Tuscan Caprese ($8.99). We eat a ton of Caprese salad in the summer and were eager to try Carfagna’s twist on the dish:  the addition of navel oranges. My husband and I were all for the extra ingredient. The oranges added a fresh citrus sweetness to the balsamic vinaigrette. All of the items were sliced extremely thin, which prevented any one thing from overpowering the taste. The boys gobbled up both appetizers, and even they commented on the freshness and quality of the produce used in the dishes.

In the end, I didn’t really make a choice about my meal. Instead, I ordered the Carfagna Pasta Combination ($16.95). Billed as “a collection of Nonna Carfagna’s Italian specialties,” the platter included baked meat lasagna, meat ravioli, cheese manicotti and gnocchi topped with homemade marinara sauce and shredded provolone. My favorite was the cheese manicotti: thin pasta tubes filled with a divine mixture of fresh ricotta, parmigiano, rich mozzarella and spinach. I also loved the gnocchi, the potato dumplings that I enjoy eating but almost never make because of the work involved.

I expected the food to be good, but was pleasantly surprised that most things were excellent. It also seemed like a great value. We had a ton of leftovers that provided multiple lunches the next day.

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Nick Says…

All last year, my social studies teacher went on and on about what wonderful food the Carfagna family makes. Apparently she’s good friends with a member of the family who loves to cook. So I was rather excited to go to their restaurant and try the food myself.

The restaurant looked fancy but was filled with families and younger couples who seemed to be enjoying themselves. I immediately saw a couple of sausage dishes that sounded good. My dad said he had heard that they were known for their sausage, which made me want to try it even more. I opted for the seasonal special: sausage served with peppers and onions on a bed of polenta ($12.95). I was happy to hear that it included a side, which meant I could order the tomato basil bisque that had also caught my eye.

The soup was similar to other tomato bisques I’ve had except it had chunks of tomato, carrots and celery in it. The addition of the vegetables really made it stand out. The broth was smooth and flavorful.

For me, the best part of the meal was my main dish. The sausage had a smoked flavor and it might have been the best sausage I’ve ever eaten. It was a wonderful blend of flavors and had a great texture. It was very soft and smooth to the point where it seemed like it melted in your mouth. I started taking bites of peppers with the sausage and it made it even better—they seemed to amplify each other’s flavor. It had been a long time since I had tried polenta. It was a good background for the meat and peppers. I liked the texture—grainy but smooth—and thought the taste complemented the other flavors.

We were too stuffed to order dessert, but my brother and I each ordered a cannoli ($4.25) to go. It was delicious. The sweet cream cheese center and the crunchy shell were amazing. I appreciated that the ends were topped with only chocolate chips. Unlike some places, Carfagna’s does not put nuts on them, making it a safe option for kids like me who have a tree nut allergy.

I agree with my teacher. The Carfagnas cook fantastic Italian food. I can’t wait to go back and order something new off of their extensive menu.

Alex Says…

When I heard we were going out for Italian, I was expecting your typical pasta and spaghetti and meatballs. However, when I began to read the menu, I was pleasantly surprised by the many unique twists on the dishes. For example, adding orange to Caprese salad, which I thought gave it a fresh summery taste that I really enjoyed. Another unique dish was my main dish, the Porchetta Sandwich ($11.95). It looked like a Philly cheesesteak but definitely had an Italian flair.

The crusty baguette, topped with pork and what the restaurant described as “Italian Salsa,” was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. The salsa was vinegar-based and chock-full of basil and really complemented the pork. My only criticism is that there was so much meat on the sandwich some bites were light on salsa. (Insider tip: Order extra salsa.)

The best part of the meal came after we got home and tried the cannoli. I’ve eaten a lot of cannoli lately, and this one ranks among the best. The center was rich and creamy. I licked every bit of it off the plate.

For a unique Italian dining experience, try Carfagna’s.