The Moretti family has been operating one or more Italian restaurants in Columbus, Ohio for many years now. In an era of restaurant chains they are one of those local gems that rise above the pack. In fact, I consider Moretti's the finest Italian restaurant I have ever eaten at, including some of New York's finest.

Moretti's features Northern Italian cuisine characterized by thick, rich sauces. The menu is consistently excellent, I've been though most of it, and never been less than blown away.

When you arrive, you'll want to order the garlic bread. Order it without cheese thank you, for even good parmesan will add nothing. The bread is a freshly baked round loaf, split and divided, rich with butter and sprinkles of fresh garlic visible on the top. The taste is peerless. If you have a wheat allergy, consider the roasted potatoes.

The salad greens are very fresh. The house salad is subtle and simple, featuring a light dressing featuring balsamic vinegar that makes the simple come alive.

Simplicity is the secret to the cuisine. All pastas are freshly made. The sauces are not unusual, designer dishes. Alfredo sauces are rich , with a sweet, buttery taste that seems almost as rich as cheesecake. Try the veal moretti of the pasta primavera with the white sauce and see for yourself. The breaded veal is wonderfully tender, a perfect foil for the sauce and fettucini alfredo that comes on the side. For the primavera, the vegetables are lightly blanched and the fresh sweetness a perfect counterpoint to the sauce.

If red sauces are more to your taste, the sauce is rich, subtle and emphasizes the natural sweetness of the tomato. Consider the chicken caccitore, bone in chicken, sometimes served with scallops. There are three lasagna dishes, a vegetable lasagna featuring rich cheeses and sweet green, yellow and red peppers. There is a spinach lasagna with sausage as well as a more traditional variety. All sausages are prepared in the restaurant, and these people understand how to spice a sausage! One disappointment is they do not offer a risoto, preferring potatoes as their non-pasta starch.

They also serve pizza, which I have never tasted, and thus cannot comment. Come hungry! Portion sizes are large and reasonably priced, generally between $11 and $18 per entre, with salads extra. The wine list is good, but not outstanding, and reasonably priced. You will certainly find a good wine to savor your meal with.

One nice thing as that as Mother Moretti retired, her children have taken up the crusade, with the same attention to quality and the preservation of the family recipes. I generally eat at the Dublin restaurant, 5849 Sawmill Rd, (614) 717-0400 with is located on the west side of Sawmill Rd, between Rt. 161 and Godown Rds. From I-270 take Sawmill south past 161 and look for an Iacono's, turning right into the strip mall at the next light. The restaurant is located in the center of the plaza.

Sister Nancy Moretti's Pasta Amore is similar, but enjoys a greater reputation for rich breads. 18 Dilmont Dr (614) 848-3636 Moretti's Arlington 2124 Tremont Center Rd In Upper Arlington, (614) 486-2333.