It was the summer of 2009 when Frank’s Pizza closed its doors in the Dogtown neighborhood with promises of reopening elsewhere soon. It took some time, but the taste and style of Frank’s has been reborn as Gusto Pizza Co. at the corner of Ingersoll Ave. and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.
The look: Gusto is located in the new Ingersoll Square building, giving the restaurant twice the dining space and a larger kitchen than the Frank’s days. The restaurant is L shaped, with table seating for 65. There’s a long bar facing three flat screen TVs (all were playing the 1931 Jimmy Cagney film “The Public Enemy” when we were there). The restaurant feels very open, with large windows giving a good view of MLK. Photos of icons like Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra and Maria Callas line the walls. When the weather warms up Gusto will have a patio with room for an additional 60 diners.
The pies: The restaurant features a dozen varieties of pizza, from Frank’s favorites like the Mona Lisa (olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, romano and ricotta) to new pizzas like the Thai Kwon Dough, a spicy Thai pizza. Some old pies are back with new names. What was The DiMaggio at Frank’s has been reborn as Spartacus, but still features the great Graziano sausage, pepperoni, mozzarella, mushrooms and banana peppers toppings.
Most pizzas are $10 for a 10 inch and $16 for a 14 inch. At lunch you can order a Gusto Pronto, a seven inch featured slice (at least two daily) served with your choice of soup or salad for $7.
In addition to pizza, Gusto serves sandwiches like Frank’s Special (fried eggplant on focaccia with pesto, provolone, red onion and tomatoes), Bourbon Brisket & Blue (brisket with bourbon sauce and bleu cheese), lasagna florentine, salads and soups.
The drinks: Gusto doesn’t have a full bar, keeping its focus on beer and wine. Beers are almost all $3, including Peroni, Peace Tree Cornucopia, Guinness and Boulevard options. Wines range from $4-$7 a glass, with $24-$28 bottle options also available.
Last call: It’s been a long wait, but the new location and revamp seems to be worth it. Gusto offers up tasty thin crust pizza and good drinks at a reasonable price. Des Moines has added a few new pizza options lately, and Gusto shows that what has worked well in the past holds up just as well today.