For Patty Bassano, owner/operator of Ferrari’s Little Italy and Bakery, there is deep appreciation for the support of the dining public. “I’m most grateful. We’ve been in business now for 28 years, and I appreciate the support all those years,” she said. She added that recently she read statistics on restaurant survival rates, and that made her feel even more fortunate. Those stats? The numbers are all over the place, actually, with consensus being that most new start-up restaurants fail before a first anniversary, and 80 percent or so are history within three years. An Ohio State University study of the Columbus metro area over a given 3-year period concluded that 57 to 61 percent of new start-ups failed within their first year, the range caused by some eateries which rebranded within 12 months of opening.
Why is Ferrari’s Little Italy a success? It could be location. After all, Ferrari’s is at the edge of both Indian Hill and Madeira, where households typically have much disposable income. It could be easy access. Ferrari’s offers entry from both Camargo and Miami Roads and features ample parking outside its door in its private lot. It could be ambiance. When there, one has the sense of being in Old World Italy, with the rustic brick-stucco walls, old photos, red-and-white checked tablecloths, snug and comfortable bar, and a patio that is nestled into greenery and away from the madding crowd. All these factors contribute to Ferrari’s success, but Bassano believes the main reason for their longevity is the food. We agree!
“Our kitchen really does a nice job, and we just keep getting better and better (at the recipes that form the backbone of Ferrari’s menu),” she said. “We still bake every day except Sunday. Bread and pastries, the cookies, and the cannoli. The cannoli are so popular! We sell a ton of those. We fill them fresh every day with a ricotta cheese filling. They’re just so good!” They look the part, for sure.
While there, we were treated to a four-pepper (as in “bell” et. al.) salmon entrée, along with a Ferrari salad. The salmon at Ferrari’s is a remarkable dish. The entrée features a generous piece of fish that is grilled. Grilling fish is pretty much standard among restaurants, but most other restaurants finish the cooking in the oven, warming the filet through while also tending to wick away some of the natural moisture of the filet in the process. At Ferrari’s, the filet is finished on the grill and not placed in the oven. My entrée was warmed through, but moist and juicy and delicious. How does that happen? My answer is that the keeper of the grill must know just the right hot spot, just the right timing, just the right amount of crusty char on the outside for the perfect result. Mine was perfect! And the pepperoncini as part of the 4-pepper mix gave the whole entrée a delightful flavor profile. I’m betting if you enjoy salmon, you’ll love Ferrari’s version.
Along with the salmon entrée we were treated to the Ferrari salad, which can be a meal itself. This long-featured salad is built on a bed of romaine lettuce and mixed greens. The salad greens are festooned with sun-dried cranberries, roasted pine nuts, and crumbles of Italian gorgonzola (bleu) cheese. A special balsamic vinaigrette melds perfectly with greens and add-ins for one of the best salad choices you’ll find.
For Jewish diners-out eating kosher style, there are a number of pasta choices on the menu as well. Among the favorites, Bassano singled out the tortellini Florentine and the linguini aglio olio as entrées to consider. The tortellini Florentine pasta is filled with spinach and cheese and served with a sauté of spinach and artichoke hearts tossed in a tomato cream sauce.
Aglio (garlic) and olio (olive oil) is a classic and basic combination for dressing pasta in Italy. My Italian grandmother once told me that of all the ways to flavor pasta, garlic and olive oil is what most Italians considered the best. That was because of the ease of creating the sauce: olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and that’s it. And as memory serves, the aroma in the kitchen was tantalizing. At Ferrari’s, that part of the recipe mirrors my grandmother’s. But the dish is made even more fulfilling by the addition of red-pepper flakes, squash, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, carrots, and asparagus.
Other pasta dishes Jewish diners may wish to consider are spaghetti marinara, fettucine Alfredo, eggplant parmesan, and mushroom ravioli. All are meatless meals appropriate for kosher-style dining.
See you at Ferrari’s Little Italy!