Steven Fusaro tweaks the menu at the Italian spot.

Rumors in the restaurant industry often are as hot as a baked potato fresh out of the oven.

So Marty Savko wasn't surprised to hear his restaurant, Vittoria in Powell, had sold last week.

"There's nothing to it at all," he said of the tall tale. "First of all, we're holding our own."

Savko reaffirmed his commitment to Vittoria, an upscale Italian restaurant he and Vince Romanelli opened three and a half years ago at 10241 Sawmill Parkway.

Case in point is the new chef, Steven Fusaro, who's worked in some of the toniest and best-known restaurants in Manhattan.

Fusaro, a former professional photographer, attended the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan before working for such well-regarded establishments as Le Bernardin and Esca, Mario Batali's seafood restaurant.

But a friend in Columbus urged Fusaro to come to central Ohio to visit. Little did he know it was a recruiting trip. Fusaro decided the timing was right, ending up in Bravo Development Inc.'s family of restaurants.

When Nick Bedalli, Vittoria's former chef, went to open his own restaurant, Nicola, Fusaro jumped at the opportunity to become executive chef. He said he's changed nearly 20 items on the menu. Customers now can sup on pork shank osso bucco served with polenta, buccatini all'amatriciana and pan-seared duck breast with caramelized root vegetables.

He's also serving whole grilled orata, also known as dorado, with salsa verde.

Still, classics such as lasagna, chicken Parmesan and chicken Marsala still are on the menu.

His approach, when cooking Italian, has always been simplicity. He believes local diners are ready for a change.

"I think everybody underestimates the Columbus market as far as food," he said. "I think diners are smarter than they've ever been. People see this stuff on TV. They want it when they go out but they can't find it."

Vittoria is open for dinner hours daily. For more information, call (614) 791-8100.

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Philly Steak and Grill is opening in the Bethel Center.

Owner Khaled Qaisi said he's going to do things a little differently: Beef will be roasted on premises before being thinly sliced and finished on the flattop grill with onions, peppers and mushrooms. Same deal with the turkey. The menu also will have chicken, gyros and shawarma, as well as various melt sandwiches on Texas toast.

Qaisi, whose background is mostly in the corporate restaurant world, said cheese steaks are always in style.

"It's a popular item," he said. "It's a filling item."

The restaurant, 5230 Bethel Center Drive, will be open in the first week of March or so. It will seat 20.

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After months of delay, Panini Opa opened last week at the corner of Bethel and Sawmill roads.

Laura Trifoni, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Orion, attributed the late start to permitting and infrastructure issues and getting a beer and wine license in place.

The laid back restaurant offers fresh, fast and affordable Greek and Italian cuisine, with nothing topping $10.

The full menu is not yet in place but should be available in the next month, Laura Trifoni said. She and her husband also own Greek Corner on Lane Avenue.
Panini Opa is located at 4799 Sawmill Road. It is open for lunch and dinner hours daily.

For more information, call (614) 336-8830.