Eating Out With Kids: Family-Owned Caffé DaVinci Features Homemade Pasta and Gelato

This Upper Arlington restaurant features a variety of Italian dishes and the perk of an on-site gelateria.

Melissa Kossler Dutton
The gelato case at Caffé DaVinci in Upper Arlington

Melissa Kossler Dutton and her family, including sons Nick, 16, and Alex, 15, visited Caffé DaVinci, a family-owned Italian restaurant near Kingsdale Shopping Center that has been in business since 1974.

Mom Says…

When we told the kids they could pick a restaurant for a treat before school started, they were quick to suggest Caffé DaVinci in Upper Arlington. During the pandemic, they started going to a nearby salon for haircuts and usually managed to convince their dad to visit the café for gelato afterward. They absolutely love the Italian-style ice cream and were convinced that the food would be equally tasty.

After we arrived, we scanned the menu board, made our entrée selections and chose two appetizers. For starters, we shared the antipasto plate ($12.75) and the sausage and peppers plate ($11). We opted for the latter on the recommendation of a staffer who said the sausage is homemade. That appetizer in particular was a hit with the family. The sausage was rich and flavorful, but not spicy. It was served on a bed of grilled peppers (including banana peppers), mushrooms and onions. It was all the best parts of a sausage hoagie without the bun.

I ordered eggplant Parmesan with meat sauce ($12.75). I didn’t realize until the dish arrived that it is served without pasta. Still, it was very filling, and I had leftovers for lunch the next day. It contained four large pieces of lightly breaded eggplant. It had great texture—not soggy or oily. The skin was still on the edges and had been cooked in such a way that it had caramelized. I had never seen that before and loved it.

Chicken fettuccine and tiramisu from Caffé DaVinci

However, Nick’s chicken fettuccini was my favorite bite. The Alfredo sauce, a wonderful mix of rich cream and butter, was infused with nutty Parmesan cheese. It was simple and delicious.

Nick Says…

The food at Caffé DaVinci always smells delicious and the restaurant has a nice atmosphere, so I have been wanting to try it for a while. When we walked in, I was looking forward to some good food. When I was scanning the menu, the chicken fettuccine ($13.95) caught my eye. After ordering at the counter, we grabbed a plate of serve-yourself bread and sat down at a table.

We were nibbling on bread when the appetizers arrived. The sausage and peppers was delicious. The sausages were housemade and fried in a medley of peppers, onions and mushrooms. The vegetables were soft but still had a bit of a crunch and, although I am not normally a huge fan, the mushrooms were yummy. The herbs and spices combined with the juice from the sausages really brought the sausage and vegetables up a level. The sausages were nice and savory and paired well with the other elements of the dish. I would definitely recommend this appetizer.

The chicken in my fettuccine dish was tender and seasoned with a variety of herbs, but the pasta was the best part: a large jumble of long, soft noodles covered in an amazing white sauce. The sauce was delicious. It had a rich and cheesy flavor. It was also thick and buttery. The portion size was extremely generous. I had enough leftover pasta to bring home. This goes for all the meals we ordered, so make sure to come hungry because you will need to save room for dessert.

For dessert, we sampled some of the gelato ($4) and ordered tiramisu ($5.25) to bring home and share. I have had the gelato before, and it never disappoints. It is very rich and thick. It is probably on my list of the best three “ice creams” in the city. The gelato is always great, and there are plenty of rotating flavor options to choose from.

Tiramisu, with chicken fettuccine in the background

Caffé DaVinci is a very solid eat-out option. The main strengths are the large portions and delicious food. I wish instead of ordering at a counter it was a more traditional sit-down place, but this is a small issue. Though we only interacted with the staff members when we ordered and they brought our meals, everyone we dealt with was as delightful as the food they served.

Alex Says…

We decided to review Caffé DaVinci because we are all quite familiar with it, since it is right next to where we get our hair cut. While we had never had dinner there, we swing by for gelato often. I consider their gelato the best ice cream I have ever had, so naturally I was excited to try the rest of the menu. 

Caffé DaVinci’s atmosphere is that of a nice Italian café. There was a self-serve bread area and oil and herbs at our table, which is nice as you can never have enough bread. For appetizers, we got the antipasto plate and the sausage and peppers plate. I really liked the cracker-like bread that came with the antipasto; it was crunchy, cheesy and perfect for piling with the meats, cheeses and artichoke hearts.

For my meal, I got the shrimp scampi ($15.50), which was a big plate of skinny noodles with a white sauce and lightly breaded shrimp on top. The seasoning was phenomenal, with a slight herby taste that really meshed well with the flavor from the breading. I only wish there had been more of the seasoning, as it could be light at times. The noodles were excellent. The light white sauce (made of garlic and olive oil) was fantastic and really highlighted the shrimp. It was a very good, lighter alternative to a traditional spaghetti sauce. I unfortunately found the dish a bit too salty.

To drink, I got a sparkling lemonade, which went great with my meal. It was plenty sweet and had a good lemon flavor.

For dessert, we had gelato and tiramisu. The gelato is rich and creamy and so delicious. Honestly, I’d come to Caffé DaVinci just for their gelato, and we have many times. The tiramisu is delicious as well, so you may have to order two desserts. Sorry!

The creamy custard on top of the tiramisu was a perfect consistency, and Caffé DaVinci nailed the signature coffee flavor. The cake part was moist and had a cinnamon and brown sugar flavor; it was terrific and could easily be eaten on its own. When the layers are put together, it’s a mouthwateringly delicious experience. Caffé DaVinci is a great restaurant with big portions, friendly service and desserts to die for.

A few of the restaurant's gelato flavors

This story is from the Fall 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.

The Details

Caffé DaVinci

3080 Tremont Road, Upper Arlington; 614-459-9945

caffedavinciua.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, 4-9 p.m. Saturdays and 4-8 p.m. Sundays

Prices: The restaurant serves a variety of sandwiches, pizzas and wraps starting at $10, with entrées such as pasta, chicken and veal from $11.50 to $15.50. Children’s meals offer various pasta selections for $8.25.

Food

Mom: Good 

Nick: Good 

Alex: Great 

Service

Mom: Great 

Nick: Good 

Alex: Great 

The Bathroom

Mom: Good

Nick: Good

Alex: Good

Favorite Bite

Mom: Chicken fettuccine

Nick: Chicken fettuccine (gelato is a VERY close second)

Alex: Tiramisu