An Italian tradition that started nearly 40 years ago has made its way to Powell.

Monte Carlo Italian Kitchen, the second in central Ohio, has opened in the former Old Bag of Nails Pub at 345 W. Olentangy St.

"We just thought it was a good area," said Kellie Ison, who owns the two Monte Carlo restaurants with her husband, Dan. "It was just a small area, small community, and they support their local stores."

Monte Carlo patrons still can expect the same big portions at budget-friendly prices at the new location, Kellie Ison said.

"Our motto is great food at reasonable prices in a nice atmosphere," she said.

Early favorites at the Powell location are the Monte Carlo trio -- chicken Parmesan, fettuccine Alfredo and lasagna -- shrimp scampi, pizzas and subs.

Most entrees are $10 to $15.

Wine sales are brisk, Kellie Ison said. Monte Carlo also has 12 tap handles, with a mix of domestic, imports and American craft at the ready.

Monte Carlo Ristorante was founded by Angelo and Bruno Ciotola in 1979 at 6333 Cleveland Ave. It closed in 1997 to make way for a Home Depot store.

A year later, Joe and Lora Ciotola, the son and daughter-in-law of Bruno Ciotola, started Monte Carlo Italian Kitchen at 610 W. Schrock Road in Westerville and later expanded into an adjacent storefront.

The Isons purchased the restaurant in 2015.

Other than adding a few salads, the Isons decided to maintain a winning formula.

That meant the meatballs still were hand-rolled, the sausage was pressed in-house and the Italian wedding soup had that familiar homespun flavor.

Dan Ison, one of eight siblings, grew up around the corner from the original Monte Carlo. He said his mother purchased the sauce to make pasta at home for the family.

"The sauce recipe is exactly the same," Kellie Ison said. "We didn't change it a bit."

Yet, some physical changes were in order at the Powell restaurant, she said.

The Isons remodeled the interior with a lighter shade of paint, reupholstered furniture, new light fixtures and a marble bar.

The storefront now includes a carryout station and two dedicated parking spaces for customers on the go.

Kellie Ison said she hopes that will push to-go sales to the 35 percent range -- the same as the Westerville location.

As for dine-in customers, there's plenty of room, as the restaurant seats 150, with another 32 on the patio.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 614-389-3711.


Speaking of Powell, Huli Huli Tiki Lounge & Grill is slated to open sometime this month at 26 W. Olentangy St.

Owner Dustin Sun said Huli Huli will be a Hawaiian grill, with old-style drinks in classic mugs in a modern setting.

The bill of fare will be limited to huli huli chicken, teriyaki salmon, coconut shrimp, kalua pork, "a little bit of Spam" and a few other dishes, most costing $8 to $12, Sun said.

"We'd like to pair them with drinks, as it is a lounge not really a restaurant," he said of the 2,000-square-foot space.


Ambrose & Eve, a high-end restaurant by Catie Randazzo and Matthew Heaggans, has opened in Columbus' Brewery District.

Randazzo and Heaggans are the force behind the four Preston's: A Burger Joint locations.

The restaurant, 716 S. High St., has several upscale appointments, such as teal banquettes, and seating for 56, with another 25 on the patio.

The menu at Ambrose & Eve, named after Randazzo's grandparents, modernizes classic dishes, such as liver and onions and veal Parmesan.

The vegetable-forward menu also features pastrami carrots with pumpernickel crumbs, grainy mustard mayo and soured cabbage and jerk cauliflower with whipped red beans and fennel.

Suppers for four, including lamb shoulder served with jeweled rice and roti, also are available.

Ambrose & Eve joins the Daily Growler, Antiques on High brewery and Tremont Lounge on a stretch of road between East Frankfort and Stimmel streets.

It is open for brunch daily and dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays.