There are several restaurants in downtown Des Moines that focus on creating Italian food but there is one restaurant that is working on bringing true, authentic Italian food to Des Moines.
I have written about this restauranteur, MJ Gazali, before stating that the ‘g’ in Gazali’s also meant great.
I’m trying to think a unique way to state what L’Italiano means.
I’m going to with the ‘L’ means Lookout.
Lookout, Des Moines, there is some magic going on in this kitchen that deserves an audience.
Luckily, there is already an audience for this new restaurant in Des Moines at the newly renovated Greater Des Moines Partnership building food court.
L’Italiano is nestled in the back right corner of the food court amongst other eateries like Local Yocals farmHouse and Moar Tacos.
It’s a great space full of new concepts and only local ownership to promote eating local. It’s also a great opportunity for new restauranteurs to have a chance at their first restaurant style setting with hopes to grow out of the space and into their own location.
Like I said, there is a lot of magic going on behind this restaurant.
MJ has said that great people eat and work in a food court.
This new concept at 700 Locust is, in itself, an amazing experience.
He wants to change the way people look at a food court, and to realize that not all food is ‘fast’ just because it is in a food court.
L’Italiano does not serve fast food, but great food as fast as they can.
MJ Gazali has had a vision of creating a truly authentic Italian experience in Des Moines for some time. He has, at last, fulfilled that dream with L’Italiano! With his co-owners, consulting partner, Filippo Corthivo, and investor, Karen Hight, he has opened the real deal! To that end, they have brought Chef Fabio from Torino, Italy, who brings his expertise and years of experience into realizing the authentic menu.
Let’s get to the meals.
If you’re lucky enough and beat the lunch rush, you’ll be able to grab a few samples from MJ, Fabio, and their culinary team. I was able to snag a bite of their Italian bread with strawberries and balsamic vinaigrette.
I wish they could sell their bread by the loafs.
They have six categories of food to choose from and the most amazing part is that their most expensive item on their menu is $11.95.
Talk about a great lunch deal!
You can choose from:
- Arancini (Italian rice balls)
Pasta – Gnocchi Del Boscaiolo ($9.95)
I have visited a couple of times now and have tried a variety of entrees and I have enjoyed both of my orders. The one dish that stands out the most as my favorite is the Gnocchi Del Boscaiolo. Homemade gnocchi is paired with flavorful ham and peas that snap with every bite. All of this is in a delicious cream sauce. The pillowy potato dumplings make for a hearty meal.
I could eat this all day and every day.
Pizza – Berto ($10.95)
Mozzarella, tomato sauce, spicy pepperoni, and sausage make up this delicious pizza. Every pizza is handmade to order. When a pizza order comes up, you can find Fabio in the back stretching and rolling the dough giving you one fresh pizza.
The part of the pizza that stood out to me the most was the sausage on the pizza. It was so flavorful.
Panini – Al Fumo ($7.95)
If you’re looking for a flavorful sandwich the Al Fumo is the choice you’ll want to make. Between some fresh bread is a layer of smoked bacon and then smoked mozzarella cheese. Romaine lettuce give you a nice crunch as you bite through this delicious smokey sandwich.
This is yet another area that L’Italiano is succeeding at. I could go on and on about their homemade tiramisu. The espresso and liquor flavors are present and the whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone is just right. It’s not too fluffy and not to thick.
It’s just right.
Another one of my favorites there is their panna cotta. It’s an Italian dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded and I ate that up just fine. MJ Gazali finishes it off with some fresh strawberry puree to give it a nice sweet touch.
There is a lot of great things coming out of this new food court in the Greater Des Moines Partnership building – especially when it comes to Italian food. You don’t need to buy an expensive plane ticket to go eat real, authentic, Italian food. You don’t even have to pay a premium price for premium food.
MJ, Karen, and Fabio are ready to treat you right and give you a culinary trip to Italy over your lunch break.
Find it: 700 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309
Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00 am until 2:00 pm
Contact: (515) 282-6700