I admit, for the longest time, I wouldn’t set foot into Gallo’s Tap Room. For all intents and purposes, it looks like a dive bar in the middle of a concrete wasteland nestled deep in suburbia. And maybe at one time, it was exactly that. But little birdies have been whispering in my ear for a while now, telling me to give it a chance, that the food was actually good despite the questionable choice of location.
Color us surprised that we had misjudged Gallo’s Tap Room all along. Our first clue that things would be different was when we spied the beer list, and saw that they had several good imports (including my beloved Lindemann’s Framboise lambic) on tap. Plus an impressive selection of bottled imports and microbrews as well.
The menu is on the small side, which allows them to focus on quality by using fresh ingredients (their wings are fresh, never frozen, for instance), making their own sauces and sides, etc. It’s a fusion of Italian and pub grub, with plenty to choose from among soup, salads and paninis. Their wings are reputed to be some of the best in Columbus.
The ambiance is typical dark sports bar, with plenty of tables about to enjoy your meal, but we chose to eat outside on their small patio. While it wasn’t an oasis surrounded by concrete, it did provide us the ability to eat outside in relative peace and quiet, with a nice breeze blowing.
We started with an order of their Fried Pierogies ($6.50), which were a half dozen potato and onion pierogi deep fried to a nice golden brown. While this isn’t a typical Midwest preparation, to displaced East Coasters like my husband and me, it was a nice slice of home. Served with sour cream (and the caramelized onions we asked for on the side), they were a thing of beauty, and a perfect start to our meal.
For his main, my husband went with the 4 O’ Clock Panini ($7.25), which tops a Rustic bread with thinly sliced home made meatballs with a wonderful red sauce and aged provolone. The whole mess is grilled on a panini press to crispy perfection. Despite him taking darn near a half hour to finish it, it remained crispy and warm throughout.
Sandwiches come with your choice of fries, an apple cole slaw, half and half (half of fries, half of cole slaw), or a salad. Or you can opt for soup for an additional charge. He chose the apple cole slaw, which is a traditional cabbage slaw with shreds of apple in it. The slaw was a lot less dressed than most I’ve had, and much less sweet (it seems if the sweetness comes primarily from the apple). A light sprinkling of salt helped bring out all the subtle flavors of it.
I went with their Angus Burger ($7.95), which is their best-selling sandwich. It puts a half pound burger (cooked to order) on a ciabatta roll, and then tops it with lettuce, tomato, and onion (and cheese if you desire). Unfortunately, when they first brought it to me it was woefully overcooked (well done when I had ordered it medium rare). When I brought it to our server’s attention he seemed genuinely mortified, and whisked it away and had a fresh burger to me in a matter of minutes. The second time around, the burger was just about perfect – nicely seasoned, cooked exactly medium rare, and juicy as all get out. The ciabatta roll stood up well to the juicy bloody onslaught. Opt for some of their homemade mayo to be served with it for a true taste treat.
I got fries with mine, and if they’re not fresh cut, they’re indistinguishable from fresh cut. Deep fried to golden perfection, and delicious with salt and some malt vinegar.
Service was flawless. Our server (who I also believe is one of the brothers who owns the place) was engaging, helpful, and extremely attentive. Even though we were seated outside (away from the main dining area) we didn’t want for a single thing during our entire meal.
One would hardly expect to get outstanding food in a sports bar, but this is the exception to the rule. If you’re in the area, toss all your preconceived notions out and stop in. You won’t regret it for a second.
If you’d like to go: Gallo’s Tap Room, 5019 Olentangy River Rd (in the Micro Center Plaza, between KMart and Micro Center), Columbus, OH 43214, 614-457-2394