Orion Trifoni is doing all he can to remind diners that Kraft House No. 5 is still the laidback neighborhood tavern that they've come to expect -- even if it looks a little different.
Trifoni and his business partner, Kliton "Tony" Gjergji, recently bought the restaurant at 5 Liberty St. in Powell and spent two weeks renovating it top to bottom by opening up the interior, installing a new floor and adding a smooth maple bar and new wooden fixtures behind it.
He kept the name but expanded the seating capacity to 80.
There's a lot to like about the location and the opportunity it provides, he said.
"You're in the heart of Powell," said Trifoni, who also is co-owner of Koble Grill in Westerville and Panini Opa in northwest Columbus. "And I like to work with good people."
One of the new members of the team is chef Nate Hall, whose menu is small and approachable but has hidden layers of flavor not evident from each dish's description.
The chicken wings are cooked confit-style in olive oil, schmaltz and duck fat, and then they are fried to crispy. Three sauces are available: Orion's, a mix of hot sauce, ranch and blue-cheese crumbles; green harissa, a fresh take on the normally spicy North African sauce; and a dry rub with notes of barbecue.
Even the burrata, the gooey cousin of mozzarella, gets a chef-driven accent. The cheese is served with grilled sourdough and pesto made with wild ramps foraged by Hall.
Hall said he is "showcasing a variety of products looked past or not done correctly."
It seems everybody has a spicy chicken sandwich these days, but Hall said his is different. He uses thigh meat, egg-washed and double-dipped in potato starch, rice flour and all-purpose flour, and fries it twice. It is garnished with pickles, mayo and lettuce.
Hall said all fish and shellfish are wild caught, not farm raised. The frutti di mare, for example, features a saute of mussels, shrimp, calamari and octopus in lemony garlic-butter sauce.
The lunch menu offers a Louisville-style hot brown, an open-faced sandwich with house-roasted turkey, Texas toast, Mornay sauce, bacon and tomato heated in the oven until bubbling.
Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays. One of the specialties is eggs Benedict, with homemade country biscuits, ham salad, poached eggs and a classic hollandaise sauce that is prepared in a pressurized canister to ensure consistency, Hall said
"We'll never break a hollandaise," he said confidently.
Meanwhile, 20 beers still are on draft, along with a number of signature cocktails and wine.
Kraft House No. 5 hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 to 9 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 614-369-9091.
In related news, Trifoni and Gjergji also plan this fall to open a Koble Grill at 176 W. Olentangy St. in Powell.
Pizza Primo will take over the former Buckeye Slice at 5216 Bethel Road in northwest Columbus.
Owner Eric Rummel hopes to have his newest pizzeria open by August in the Bethel Center.
It will be the third Pizza Primo; the others are in Clintonville and Worthington.
He called his style "Columbus all the way" -- a box-cut pie with a thin crust and edge-to-edge toppings.
In addition to pizza, he will offer two "bomb" sandwiches -- a spicy chicken and Philly-style steak -- plus calzones, wings and spaghetti dinners.
Pizza Primo will offer pizza by the slice, same as the previous three predecessors at the site. Those will be cut in triangles, per the style of traditional pizzerias, Rummel said.
TGIXpress Indian Bistro and Bar has replaced Alegria's Seafood in a Carriage Place Plaza storefront that has seen a lot of turnover.
The new restaurant, which specializes in northern Indian food, is at 2584 Bethel Road directly west of Cinemark Movies 12.
The extensive menu has a multitude of meat, seafood and vegetarian options, ranging mostly from $9 to $14.
The signature dish is the galouti kebab, or ground lamb formed into patties, seasoned with a house garam masala and other spices and cooked on a tawa grill.
TGIXpress is open for lunch and dinner daily.
Brekkie Shack, a restaurant with an emphasis on healthful breakfast items served all day, is slated to join the Grandview Yard development.
A late August opening is planned for the restaurant, which is owned by sisters Lisa and Lindsey Rusch.
The 2,500-square-foot space will seat close to 70 inside and 20 on the patio at 1060 Yard St. in Grandview Heights.
Lisa Rusch said the menu would offer many plant-based dishes, plus traditional breakfast offerings and a few lunch options.
"We come from a long history of baking so we wanted to make our scratch-made goods a priority," she said.
The Rusches have partnered with Crimson Cup for coffee products. They also have applied for a liquor license.