One of our favorite restaurant's here in Columbus is Figlio (actually, there are two of them in town and another in Dayton). They create the best pizzas (those great gourmet wood fired pizzas!), pastas that will spoil you for any other, and simple yet elegant salads. Their desserts (oh, the Chocolate Mousse...) and particularly their coffee are absolute standouts. I believe they use a custom blend created for them by Columus' own Stauf's Coffee Roasters and I've never had smoother coffee anywhere. It almost feels like I'm sipping liquid silk when I have cup there. Friends that know far more about wine than I do tell me their wine list, while not large or fancy, is a perfect match to the dishes coming out of the kitchen. The Owners of Figlio are no wine slackers, though, having recently opened Vino Vino - A Wine Bistro adjacent to the Grandview Figlio location. My wife has been there a few times and loves their crab cakes, too.
The decor at Figlio stresses their simple elegance, the only real wall decorations being some sort of seasonal fruit or vegetable hanging from what looks like thin metal wire, & always with one piece hanging higher than all the rest. the tables are covered with a bright white table cloth, then topped with butcher paper stamped sparingly with the Figlio logo. The superb waitstaff are all dressed in bright white shirts and black skirts or pants - the whole place just smacks of stylistic minimalism without being pretentious.
So, other than the obvious (Go to Figlio when you're in Columbus!), why am I telling you all of this? Well, in addition to the well deserved praise I've just heaped upon this place, Figlio is one of those artsy creative places that occasionally changes their menu items, adding new ones, taking some away...always with care to maintain a nice balance for their patrons. One dish they had many years back was a pasta (penne, I think) in a red sauce with sliced sauteed italian sausage and topped with goat cheese. My wife an I both enjoyed this dish (until she discovered their Chicken Diablo, her ever steady, one and only now), and I really wanted to be able to make something like it at home. My version of their pasta is the recipe below. It's nowhere near as good as Figlio's was, but we enjoy the flavors and have it often, especially since it's simple and quick.
Sausage Pasta with Goat Cheese
4 hot italian sausage links, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
3 cans (6 ounces) of tomato sauce (yep, just plain old small cans of sauce - we usually use the cheap stuff...)
1 pound of pasta, whatever kind you like. We use either thin spaghetti or penne
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon dry basil
Chevre Goat cheese, at least a tablespoon per serving, more if you really like the stuff. And you will really like the stuff..
Pour the tomato sauce into a medium sauce pan over low heat.
Add the sliced sausage, oregano & basil and cook on low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The flavor of the sausage will infuse into the sauce during this time.
After about 20 minutes, prepare the pasta per package label directions (If you are using fresh pasta, let the sauce cook a few more minutes since the pasta will be ready faster).
When the pasta is done, drain it well and portion it out into pasta bowls. Top the hot pasta with the sausage sauce and a generous dollop of goat cheese, then serve it while still steaming.
That's it. Like I said, it's nice and simple and quick, yet it will taste like you actually worked hard to make it.