Pizza- Des Moines
I have made a few visits to Des Moines lately and didn't find a thread dedicated to pizza research (a field of study with which I hope to accomplish my doctorate someday) so I'm posting a starter thread.
We were looking for Neapolitan style but we were flexible. We were staying NorthWest in Urbandale and when I saw a poser mention "Felix and Oscar's" had *real* Chicago-style deep dish I had to explore. It's hard to find anyone, anywhere doing Chicago pizza outside the windy city area IMO.
We visited the store on Merle Hay Road. It was a little tricky to find by sight only as it sits back from the road. My eagle-eyed daughter spied it after we drove past it the second time.
The store allows you to call ahead (or online) to get your pizza started (since they take so long to cook). What a nice idea when you have kids in tow (as I did).
We showed up, had a drink and our pizza arrived, boom, like that. Although they made a mistake on the toppings... crud. The waitress said it was the cook's fault and not a website issue.
They use Graziano Brothers sausage (yyyyyyyuuummm). The sauce was pretty plain (and very acidic) as I suspect they don't splurge on tomatoes. The cheese was very good and generous. They didn't do a grated pecorino topping (which I think is fairly standard? maybe not) so we did lots of shakes of dried out parm from the table shaker.
The crust was the biggest problem... it had the right biscuit-style crumb but it was *very* blonde and lacked moisture and flavor. I suspect they didn't use enough fat in the dough, or perhaps the oven was too low.. or perhaps they used a metallic pan instead of a dark one?
Service was friendly, the atmosphere is classic faux-tudor-revival english pub (forgettable but not unpleasant) and the vibe is fun. It was like stepping back into the 70's.
A good pie overall- but could have been much better with a few tweaks and no mistakes.
Des Moines' version of Neopolitan:
classic wood-oven - Centro
creative toppings - Gusto, Big Tomato, Fong's
crispy crust - Django
"des moines" style (a tiny bit more thick than the neopolitans)- Orlando's, Scornovacca's
East Coast style - Something Italian (weekday lunch only or downtown farmer's market)
trza is right, the Merle Hay Road location is the better. I tend to prefer the bar side of that location to the restaurant. I'm not a fan of the 70s decor in the restaurant. I do like the pizza there. They also have a very good Italian Sausage sandwich using Graziano's as well as a "dirty" or "nasty" french fry appetizer that's great.
I won't vouch for it, but the last time I was in Chuck's (north of downtown des moines) a couple years ago they had a surprisingly good pizza Margherita.