Open since July, The Market Italian Village brings to mind a tale of two cities. But they are both Columbus.

Open since July, The Market Italian Village brings to mind a tale of two cities. But they are both Columbus.

One exists in a recent past, where Summit Street and Third Avenue houses a crusty carryout in a rough neighborhood. In the other, this identical address is home to a chic market/restaurant anchoring an on-the-rise area.

These form an intriguing urban renewal narrative that’s hardly finished. It’s a plot becoming increasingly linked with The Market’s owners, i.e. the crew overseeing The Crest Gastropub and Ethyl & Tank rehabs.

Said owners posted lofty mission statements near The Market’s front door and on its website, informing customers of high ambitions. Some are met.

One is visual aesthetics, because this patio-equipped place looks great. Resembling a bodega-sized Quonset hut with a double-barreled ceiling, its sleek and handsome confines delight with openness and tones of red and gray plus smooth blond wood.

Another mission accomplished is service, as I received unusually personable attention from The Market’s long apron and button down-clad waitstaff.

Attempting to please all the people all the time, the Market offers all-day boutique grocery shopping, locally roasted coffee and breakfast pastries, and separate lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menus.

Along with pour-over coffee, there’s the expected hefty craft beer list (growlers-to-go are available), a nice wine selection and decent cocktails ($10). From the latter, I tried a light-but-potent French 75 and a barrel-aged Coffee Manhattan that would be best with — or for — dessert.

The Market’s head chef hails from The Refectory, and this august influence appears in The Market’s attractive platings. Unfortunately, those appealing plates don’t consistently exhibit The Refectory’s meticulousness. And too often, their allure is inversely proportional to their value.

Since one nightly special encapsulated these characteristics, you might say it was the best of The Market, and it was the worst of The Market. This was a vegetarian entree starring a crispy and prettily browned savory pastry purse packed with chipotle-kissed roasted sweet potatoes. Accompanying it were undercooked, chewy Brussels sprouts plus a tiny haystack of zucchini thread “pasta” with a wonderful pesto sauce. Underneath was a conflictingly cool pool of red pepper coulis. While I enjoyed the dish’s creativity, flavors and healthfulness, the portion was modest, but its $20 price tag wasn’t.

Lamb recurs in specials, and if you don’t mind $19 for a deconstructed gyro — albeit a huge and terrific one fashioned with homemade pizza dough — watch for Lamb Spiedini.

Among other hits and misses, a rustic-yet-refined Chicken Osso Buco ($13) featured uncommonly tender confited legs atop comforting polenta, but a good-looking salad advertising garlic scapes and grilled halloumi cheese ($9) lacked both those key ingredients.

Baked Feta ($10) is a popular starter. It’s simple — warm salty curds piled high in an iron skillet with acidic tomato sauce and focaccia for dipping — but what’s not to like?

From the just-released autumnal menu, the Roasted Cauliflower appetizer ($8) was a symphony in mellow yellow. Charred florets were artfully assembled with a velvety “pumpkin soubise” plus Parmesan crisps that weren’t crisp. Those same chewy chips undermined a BLT-riffing Hearts of Romaine salad ($9).

Undercooked Brussels sprouts reappeared in a minor role — buried under an avalanche of shaved red cabbage tossed in a lemon sorbet-flavored sweet dressing — in the dramatic and worthy Roasted Brussels Sprouts starter ($8).

Crispy-crusted Veal Scallopini ($16) showcasing spork-tender meat again reminded me of “A Tale of Two Cities” — only this time the famous opening lines of Dickens’ immortal novel. Because though I experienced ups and downs here, with winning food like that, The Market is bringing an edible “spring of hope” to a neighborhood formerly known as a dining “winter of despair.”

Photos by Meghan Ralston