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Aug 19, 2007 05:46 PM

Dining choices Des Moines

Heading to Des Moines later this week on business.
The following restaurants received Wine Spectator recognition for their wine list. Any comments / preferences on the food end?
Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano
Cafe Di Scala


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  1. Sage is the only 5 star of the bunch. They also have a small plate menu in the bar during the summer. You won't go wrong at Sage.
    I believe Biaggi's is a chain. I've had a gift card for them for almost a year, but haven't tried it. I hear really good things about them, but I don't know how credible the sources are.

    1. My Des Moines friends get tired of the constant drumbeat of praise for 801 Steak and Chop but I just can't get enough of the Steak Del Monico there. It's served perfectly everytime, is cooked in a very hot flame so that the outsides carmelize. I hate Biaggi's. Cafe Di Scala can be very good and I am a fan of Lucca.

      8 Replies
      1. re: jwagnerdsm

        So, J, should I burn through 75.00 with a couple trips for appetizers and wine, or try one big meal and be done with it?

        1. re: Bobfrmia


          Get the Del Monico and a couple of sides. It is expensive and I only go when it's a business dinner and someone else is paying.

          1. re: jwagnerdsm

            Sorry J, I meant using up my Biaggi's gift card.

            1. re: Bobfrmia

              I'd probably go the wine and appetizers route. Actually, I'd probably go the beer and appetizers route

              1. re: jwagnerdsm

                An even better idea, except that I'm a beer snob. They will have to have a nice selection of Micros.
                Do they have Pizza? I wouldn't think they could screw that up to bad. Maybe a few pies to go for the Hawkeye's opener.

                1. re: Bobfrmia

                  Yeah, they've got pizza. Their beef carpaccio is also decent, if you like that sort of thing. I'm being a little unfair because I loath most chains, but as you know better than anyone, there are much better family owned Italain joints in Des Moines and every time a chain opens one of the locally owned places seems to close.

        2. re: jwagnerdsm

          It is transcendent, so keep beating the drum.

          1. re: jwagnerdsm

            Even something simple like their side of creamed corn is wonderful. I love 801. And the steaks are worth it. One of the best in the US.
            Your Des Moines friends are just jaded.

          2. Sage is consistently good...and you'll pay for it. The wine list is very focused and the mark-up is more than reasonable.

            Do to the format (prix fixe), Lucca can be hit or miss, but the 'scene' has unquestionably more energy than Sage.

            I've never had a pleasant experience at Cafe Di Scala, but it maintains a pretty strong fan club.

            1 Reply
            1. re: double_Windsor

              Cafe di Scala was much better when it was the Chat Noir. You could actually tell it was in an old house, it had a great bistro feel. I hate the way they've tried to modernize it. I went once after the change and it was just awkward. The jazz music was much too loud to allow for any communication at all, much less with your server! It made me miss the Chat Noir so much.

            2. Thanks for all the responses. I only had 1 night to chow, so I chose Lucca. The meal was delicious (the duck was heavenly). The wines by the glass were very good. I would reccommend highly, although as a stranger it was a bit difficult to find hidden among the store fronts.

              1 Reply
              1. re: vinolovers

                Glad to hear you liked Lucca. I'm a fan but I know there are plenty of folks who prefer one of the other bistros.