Indian cuisine was the clear niche market in the central Ohio dining scene in 2010.

Indian cuisine was the clear niche market in the central Ohio dining scene in 2010.

Three high-profile Indian restaurants opened this year: Aab, Tadka and Maanas. Aab Grandview Avenue, was the first, taking over the former Thom's on Grandview. The next was Tadka, part of a small Atlanta-based chain. Its franchisees also own Inchin's Bamboo Garden on Sawmill Road. Maanas, another large-scale restaurant with one of the most extensive lunch buffets in the business, opened in the Polaris area.

Columbus also welcomed Bollywood Bistro, Rethika and Masala BBQ.

Just before the year was over, the vacant Bayleaf India Bistro, which abruptly closed in fall, was filled by Cumin, from the owner of Cuisine of India, in the same area.

The economy, as always, played a big part in the dining habits of local denizens. By all appearances, the local industry is entertaining a large swath of people, but casual seems to be the style of the day.

One shining example is Piada, the latest spinoff of the Doody family, the founders of Lindey's, Brio and Bravo. Piada's draw is the piadana, a sort of Italian burrito. Several more of these stores will open throughout the region over the next year.

In other casual news, Easy Street Cafe opened in Powell, and Loops, which also has Greek orientation, opened in the Grandview Heights area.

Fine dining continues to take the biggest hit. Although, upscale dining -- however one might define it -- has had some interesting additions. Among the most notable is San-Su, the Korean barbecue on Bethel Road, where each table is outfitted with an individual grill so customers could cook their raw beef to their own specifications. Another is Cibo, which marks the Ciotola family's return to the restaurant business, at Reed and Henderson roads on the northwest side. The seductive Italian restaurant is owned by Carla Piolata and Carrie Ciotola, who were involved in the original DaVinci's, which occupied the southeast corner of the intersection before it was replaced with a retail center.

Upper Arlington was the big winner in the dining wars this year, as Gallo's Kitchen and Royal Ginger opened in the tony suburb. Gallo's, from the owners of Gallo's Tap Room on Bethel Road, specializes in New Orleans cuisine. Royal Ginger is the twin of Blue Ginger on Sawmill Road.

If current economic trends are any indication, the restaurant industry will continue to plod along, feeding hungry people who would rather go out than cook. But originality takes a back seat to culinary security. Let's hope the new year ushers in some innovation.