Mohammed "Chef Z" Zaman opens Omezzo Restaurant and Pizzeria in Pickerington.

While studying computer information science at New York University, Mohammed Zaman worked at a popular Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village.

Upon graduation, he got a job at a national bank and moved to Pickerington.

After getting married, and learning he would have a child, he decided the corporate banking world -- and all of the travel that came with it -- wasn't for him.

So, he went back to the kitchen, working at locally based Bravo and Cooker restaurant chains.

In February, he went out on his own, opening Omezzo Restaurant & Pizzeria in Pickerington.

"This is exciting," said Zaman, also known as "Chef Z." "This was my goal."

Omezzo takes over the former Gasperini's Pizza storefront at 1755 Hill Road N. in the Shoppes at Turnberry. The 2,400-square-foot restaurant seats 70.

The menu has a strong focus on Italian fare, with dishes such as shrimp scampi, chicken marsala and lobster ravioli with a homemade sauce.

The house specialty is spaghetti with meatballs. Entrees are between $8 and $11. Pizzas use a medium-thick crust, and offer traditional and pre-selected toppings.

Zaman also places an emphasis on American dishes, such as homemade spinach dip, house-patted burgers, wings and such.

"I believe in the quality of food I serve and my service," he said. "It's my passion."

For now there is no alcohol, but Zaman has applied for a license to sell wine.

Omezzo is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, dinner only on Sunday and closed Monday. For more information, call 614-866-7606.

Portia Yiamouyiannis wants to dispel the myth vegan cuisine is boring and unsatisfying.

"It's giving you something that's tasty, but you're getting the health benefits, too," said Yiamouyiannis who plans to open Portia's Cafe in Clintonville.

She will go the extra step by not only prohibiting meat and dairy, but also gluten and genetically modified organisms, commonly known as GMOs.

Yiamouyiannis said 95 percent of the menu will be organic. She's even using fluoride-free water.

"It's needed so much here in Columbus," she said of her restaurant. "We don't have anything like it."

Portia's Cafe is expected to open this weekend at 4428 Indianola Ave., south of Morse Road. The 1,200-square-foot restaurant seats 30.

Yiamouyiannis, the former owner of Beechwold Natural Foods, is so committed to sustainability that she furnished the storefront entirely with used furniture.

The menu will offer homemade soups, salads, sandwiches or wraps, smoothies or juices and organic free-trade coffee and tea, plus a grab-and-go section. She sells many of the items, under the banner "Portia's Creations," at the Clintonville Community Market.

That includes the "sunny walnut pate," or mock tuna salad, which has a base of walnuts and sunflower seeds, seafood flavoring from dulse seaweed, and is seasoned with pickles, celery and lemon.

In addition, there's a faux sausage breakfast patty and non-deep-fried falafel made from almonds. For dessert, there are a variety of choices, including the fruit "cheezecake," made with cashews, coconut oil, blueberries, strawberries and mango. There's a pineapple version, too.

The cafe will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, brunch on Sunday and closed Monday.

For more information, call 614-928-3252.