Cameron Mitchell's New Take on Italian Uses Classics Touched up with Modern Flair

Employees learn the drink menu at Martini Modern Italian, which replaces Martini's Italian Bistro at 445 N. High St. It was the last of Cameron Mitchell's older concepts to undergo a makeover.

Dark woods, white leather and special lighting were chosen to help bring to mind big-city Italy. Entree prices will range from $14 to $42 when the restaurant opens Wednesday.

Urban Columbus is about to get a taste of urban Italy.

Martini Modern Italian, Cameron Mitchell's latest concept, is replacing Martini Italian Bistro at 445 N. High St., at Vine Street.

"I want you to step into a dining experience like I've seen in Milan," Mitchell said as he prepared for its opening on Wednesday night. "For two hours, our customers can leave Columbus behind and have an experience like they can nowhere else."

The original Martini's opened in the mid-1990s and was more of the traditional rendering of Italian food in America. The space was decorated with an eye toward the eclectic.

It also represents the last of Mitchell's older concepts to undergo a makeover. Cameron's American Bistro and the Cap City Diner were given new menus this summer, also serving to mark the 15th anniversary of Mitchell's entry onto the dining scene.

With Martini Modern Italian's opening, the company has 12 restaurants representing nine concepts. Nine of the restaurants are in central Ohio.

The Martini's Italian Bistro in Louisville, Ky., will remain under the old concept and might soon be sold to the general manager, Mitchell said. Ocean Club's sisters, known outside this area as Ocean Prime, will soon give Mitchell 15 restaurants, with new spaces opening in Orlando, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz., in November and Tampa, Fla., after the first of the year.

The new Martini concept moves upscale and modern, with dark woods, white leather and special lighting.

The straightforward menu, which Mitchell calls "timeless Italian cookery and techniques presented in a modern style," features such classics as Osso Bucco, Vitello Milanese, Chicken Marsala and Gnocchi Bolognese, but with a lighter flair.

The menu also offers specialty cocktails and enough salads and small plates that diners can move in that direction if they choose.

Entrees run from $14 to $42, with salads and soups in the $7-to-$9 range and antipasti priced from $9 to $17. Specialty drinks are $9 and $10.

The restaurant, which seats 174 in the dining room and 46 in the bar, will be open for dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and until 9 p.m. on Sunday.

The restaurant, Mitchell said, also works as a counterpoint to Marcella's Ristorante, at 615 N. High St.

"We cover both ends of the spectrum, from high-end to casual trattoria, just 500 yards from each other. Where Marcella's is an expression of Tuscany, this is an expression of big-city Italy," he said.