Two Des Moines Meals - Lucca and Tacos Degollado
Frist Lucca. I have a question for the locals. Did this place close, relocate, then reopen in the original location? Has it never closed at all? My first visit was 3-4 years ago, and I cam back about 3 times. But my last visit was two years ago. The old web site (basilprospero, or something like that) went away, and I couldn't find a replacement anywhere. Then about six months ago, I saw an active luccarestaurant.net, but that's no longer up either.
Anyway... My previous visits were for business. The daughter now attends Drake (is attending summer classes as well), and I went there with her and my wife for their first experience. I ordered the gnocchi, but the current preparation (gorgonzola) was a little more bland than preparations from the past, even though the texture was great. However, my daughter enjoyed her risotto and my wife really liked the goat cheese croquette with caponata.
All entrees were excellent (ribeye, rolled and stuffed chicken breast, and diver scallops). Desserts were average (flourless chocolate torte, panna cotta with honey and walnuts). Overall, it was a solid meal, but not quite as good as I'e had in the past.
Earlier in the day, we snacked on tacos at the Tacos Degollado food truck parked in a vacant lot next to an auto parts store at 18th and University. I tried al pastor and cabeza (beef head). The cabeza was very flavorful and on par with or better than cabeza tacos I've had elsewhere (Twin Cities). Meat portions were generous, and the tacos are only $1.50 each. Garnished with a grille jalepeno, grilled onion wedge, lime wedge, and fresh radish. I'd be lunching here all the time if I lived in town.
This is all to the best of my knowledge:
The original Basil's is in the Principal Tower (801 Grand Ave) on the west side of downtown and only offers lunch.
They later started a bakery in the East Village and sell their bread in the area grocery stores. After a certain amount of time they started having Prix Fixe dinners Friday and Saturday nights in the Bakery in the East Village.
They then opened up Lucca a couple blocks away from the bakery. They kept baking in the East Village location, but closed the location to customers.
Then they opened a pizzeria in the bakery, which I believe has recently closed.
I love the pasta offered at both Lucca and Basil's in the Tower for lunch. I've been less impressed with Lucca's dinners than I was when they were doing Prix Fixe nights in the bakery. The food is still good but not quite as good. The new space is loud with bare brick walls, while the old space was cozy and the "pushed all the baking stuff to the edges and put tables up" shtick really worked IMO.