Gallo's Tap Room, known for its better-than-average craft brew selection and decent tavern food, has entered a new phase with food, beer and whiskey.
Founded 10 years ago as a neighborhood watering hole and sports bar, Gallo's has rolled out a new menu, complete with classics such as brined chicken wings and "Paisan" panini along with new items, such as chicken and waffles and Italian-style mac 'n' cheese.
The place also is poised to serve a fresh batch of customers from Taylor House, a 325-unit apartment complex directly to the east.
Co-owner Nick Gallo said the apartment developer, Preferred Living, purchased the strip mall where Gallo's is located and gave the owners financial incentives to build a brand new kitchen. The restaurant closed for about two months while the work was being done.
Gallo's is at 5019 Olentangy River Road, but faces the interior of the Olentangy Plaza, home to Micro Center, Marshalls and a number of other businesses.
The new 900-square-foot kitchen allows Gallo's to make something it always wanted to serve: New York-style pizza, which comes in 18-inch pies and by the slice. The kitchen also has a separate entrance for pickup.
Gallo brought in David Koenig, formerly of Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza, to develop the pizza recipe. Without revealing too much of his technique, Koenig said the homemade crust is thin and crunchy and deftly layered with sauce and cheese.
Customers can choose from one of the three signature pies or build their own from a variety of toppings. Calzones are available, as well.
Gallo said adding pizza to the menu, when you consider the investment in equipment, can't be overstated.
"It's a big deal," he said.
"Adding pizza is like adding a whole new business to your restaurant," Koenig said.
But pizza is only part of the new food program.
The expanded kitchen has given Koenig room to flaunt his skills as a chef. The menu includes new dishes such as five-cheese macaroni 'n' cheese topped with Italian-seasoned bread crumbs; barbecued oysters and arancini, deep-fried risotto balls.
Koenig introduced some specialty sandwiches, including the "4 o'clock hero" with homemade meatballs on a hoagie roll, a spicy pulled-pork wrap pressed on a panini and a fried bologna sandwich with mortadella, an Italian cold cut.
Even the wings -- considered by many as some of the best in the city -- will get an update. Gallo's now offers three styles of a dry rub -- blackened, jerk and Cajun.
Pierogies, once deep-fried, will be given a classic preparation: fried in butter and onions. Gallo said there wasn't room to do that before.
Most single items cost $7 to $10.
The basic floor plan hasn't changed much. However, the bar has been extended to include additional room for upscale whiskeys and a tasting area, Gallo said.
He said he will remove one of the two pool tables in the back room and replace the carpet with laminate wood flooring. He will expand seating and turn the area into more of a private dining area.
Gallo founded the restaurant 10 years ago with brother Tommy Gallo and cousin Larry Gallo.
Tommy Gallo went on to open Gallo's Kitchen, serving Cajun and Creole cuisine in Upper Arlington. They tried their hand at barbecue with Gallo's Pit BBQ, a short-lived eatery at the corner of state Route 161 and Linworth Road. The space is now occupied by the Crafty Pint.
Gallo's Tap Room is open for dinner only Monday and for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call 614-457-2394.