Nicola takes over the former Cibo location in the Arlington Pointe Center.

With the transaction among friends complete, Nicola is now open.

Chef Nick Bedalli's new restaurant, which replaces Cibo in Arlington Pointe Plaza, offers a mix of rustic and upscale Italian fare.

"I like this place," he said. "It's nice."

Knowing the former owners, Tommy and Carla Piolata, made the decision to open his own restaurant a little easier.

"For me, it's great," he said. "They're my friends."

Bedalli, a native of Sienna, Italy, arrived in Columbus 10 years ago and worked at DaVinci Ristorante, with which the Piolatas were involved. (The Arlington Pointe Center replaced DaVinci at Henderson and Reed roads.) He moved on to other restaurants, most recently Vittoria in Powell, but never had full control of the menu until now.

"It's time," he said. "Too much work for others."

Bedalli, who opened the restaurant with his wife, Speranza, said he has given a nod to more traditional American tastes with such dishes as spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and cannelloni, to name a few, while introducing more Italian specialties, including crostini ai fegatini - chicken liver pate over toasted cibatta.

Another of his specialties is risotto, with four different options available.

The signature dish is cioppino, the classic seafood stew. Steak-lovers have an option with bistecca ai ferri, an herb-rubbed ribeye served with a red-wine
reduction and roasted potatoes. Gnocchi and most pastas will be made in-house. Entrees are in the $14 to $28 range.

Having cooked in restaurants throughout Italy, Bedalli will offer regional specialties on a nightly basis, each paired with a wine recommendation.

All the while, he will stay true to his roots with uncomplicated, approachable cuisine.

"You know that's what Italian is all about - simple and fresh," he said.

Nicola also will feature a lunch buffet during the week and brunch on Sunday.

The restaurant closed for about a week for the transition. There was a minor renovation of the 3,800-square-foot space, 4740 Reed Road.

Carla Piolata said selling Cibo was a bittersweet decision. She spent the last year making her restaurant an extension of her own kitchen, a friendly, familiar place where people felt comfortable and ate good food.

"It was the way I imagined my restaurant to be," she said.

But the couple, while enjoying the business, had grown weary of the hours and time spent away from family.

"If it wasn't for Nick, it would not have happened," she said. "It was not for sale."

Nicola is open for lunch and dinner daily. For more information, call (614) 436-2426.

Upper Cup Coffee Co., an artisan coffee-roaster and retail shop, is the latest to join the growing dining scene in Olde Towne East.

"It's the only thing they don't have out here, so why not try something new?" said Samson Habte, who owns the store with his brother, Micael. Their new coffee shop, which seats 17 in about 900 square feet of space, is at 79 Parsons Ave.

The Habtes owned a wholesale coffee-roasting business for two years on the East Side before opening their new business.

Samson Habte said they still roast their beans on-premises. They sell all-Arabica beans from Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Brazil, available by the pound or half-pound, ground or as whole beans.

One coffee is offered daily, but the brothers are open to requests. They also sell a variety of other coffee drinks, including espresso, macchiato, cappuccino and a "really good" caramel latte, Samson Habte said.

Prices are $1.35 for a small and $1.85 for a large. The BYOM (bring your own mug) option is $1.25 and $1.65. The other drinks range from $1.50 to $2.50.

The store is open morning and evening hours daily. For more information, call (614) 220-0206.