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Due Amici - Do the Due

67 E Gay St. Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 224-9373

Columbus is doing great with naming the districts that surround its downtown. We’ve got villages named for nationalities; districts preceded by the adjectival form of the defunct industries they once hosted; _villes; _views; and complete non-sequiturs. One could completely surround downtown (assuming one had the stamina), and everyone would be able to describe their location with a clever acronym or abbreviation, i.e. ShoNo, GermVil, The OTE. But, once a body steps into the sprawling urban area north of Livingston, south of the 670 and between the freeways 315 and 71, all one can say about where one finds oneself is Downtown.

All the modish, new condo conversions have clever names, so how come we have yet to subdivide our ever-hipper urban center into easily identifiable zones, wards and boroughs?

Y’know what? Screw it. Let’s start now. Let’s take that cluster of groovy cafes, restaurants, bars and retail outlets that’s one block closer to Canada than the Capitol. Let’s figure out what we’re going to call it over dinner at Due Amici. That only makes sense, since Due is smack-dab in the middle of the precinct in question and a sort of de-facto hipness hub. Seriously, any happy hour at Due has leaders of the business, political and art communities rubbing elbows, pressing flesh, making deals and whatever else it is that leaders of communities do.
Dinner at Due provides a long, comfortable dining room with sleek design, aesthetically-pleasing art, plenty of exposed brick and beams, and a menu replete with that particular deliciousness that comes from a careful and discerning chef in relentless pursuit of the freshest ingredients for the simple preparation of modern, Italian-inspired comestibles. Plus, pretty much every thing previously mentioned makes for an exquisite atmosphere in which to learn more about Italian wines, and we all need to do that.

The high-top tables and glass-tiled bar are a befitting locus for the consumption of that first glass of bubbles or whatever it is they’re putting in a martini glass. Conversation here should include speculation about who everyone else is, catty whispering about what they are wearing and proclamations about how light and refreshing the Ruggerio Prosecco is. Also, by the time the first drink is empty, but before the party has moved to the dining room to begin dinner, a few possible neighborhood names, like “3Gay,” “The Pearl” or “NoCap,” should already be in the pipeline.

Whatever it takes, one should definitely have a glass of that Prosecco waiting on the table for the first course. It will harmonize outstandingly well with the creamy, fresh mozzarella and salty, cured pork in the Prosciutto Wrapped Ovoline, which really ought to be one of the aperitifi. So should the Mussels Arrabbiatta.

Care should be taken to make sure that nothing is over-eaten, since the subsequent salad, pasta, entrée and desert courses are going to commingle with their viticultural peers as well, if not better, than the Prosecco does with the Ovoline and Mussels. So, the savvy diner will take measures to remain unfull until after dessert.

“3Gay” is probably not a good idea. Come up with something better before the Arugula and Frizee Salad gets to the table. Once it does, every mouth in the immediate vicinity will be busy crunching crispy pancetta and swishing Vernaccia Di San Gimignano—a crisp Tuscan white with enough acid to conquer the shaved parmesan and pine nuts. Due has a Baby Greens Salad, which should also be a constituent of the salad course, since not everyone is a fan of the nutty bitterness of either frisee or arugula, and the Vernaccia slays with it, too.
How about something arbitrary, like “Hobart”? Throw the idea around over the pastas.

At Due Amici, the pasta course simply must include a couple different homemade raviolis and as many, if not more, of the accompanying sauces. The Asiago and Sun Dried Tomato in Black Pepper Ravioli is almost audibly begging to be smothered in the Wild Mushroom and Prosciutto sauce and chased off the palate by an earthy and substantial red, like Sandrone’s Dolcetto D’Alba. Artichoke and Gorgonzola sauce loves Florentine in Spinach Ravioli, which loves the rich liquid sunshine of Sicily’s blended white: Donnafugata Anthilia, but none of them are wild about the name “The Pearl”. A wise course of action is to order the sauces on the side, to better facilitate mixing and matching.

The entrée course is the logical juncture at which to crack the bottle of Amarone that absolutely must be included in the evening’s retinue of wines. It’s juice that is essential to a better understanding of Italian wines, because of the unique way in which the grapes are raisined-up slightly to increase concentration and residual sugar in the raw juice. The end product is a huge, juicy, earthy wine that soothes a palate under assault by Gorgonzola Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin. Due has Tedeschi’s, which is a good starter Amarone, because it isn’t overwhelming, but can hold up to blue-veined cheeses, the meaty funk of mushrooms, Marsala sauces, hot peppers and demi-glaces, all of which are likely constituents of a well executed entrée course. Now’s a good time for brainstorming, since names like “The Olde Gaye” and “Brumblehead” couldn’t possibly leave the bad taste they ordinarily would in a mouth delighted by the spicy leathers and sharp creaminess of Amarone and parmesan.

The memory of courses past should linger for a moment, before the sweet and momentarily-effervescent Moscato d’Asti from Michele Chiarlo and the desserts get there. Whim is best relied upon when choosing sweets, and with choices like Tiramisu, Chocolate Torte, Cannolis and Gelato, choosing dessert may be one of the only times it should be. Whim will likely lobby for a sampling of all the desserts. Listen to whim. Then, sip at a Sambucca or something, recap the names everyone agrees don’t suck, narrow it down to a couple good ones, and schedule a return visit to Due, at which time the finalists can battle it out for the honor of naming this truly groovy district.

What about just, “Hightown”?