For more than 50 years Chuck’s Restaurant has been a fixture of the Highland Park neighborhood, serving homemade Italian favorites along with live music three nights a week.
Chuck’s feels like a place with history, the kind of place people would walk to for a nice dinner. While the decorations have changed a bit over the years (the framed Formula 1 posters don’t look 50 years old), the menu, staff and many of the customers all seem like they’ve been a part of Chuck’s for a long time.
The menu at Chuck’s includes an assortment of homemade pastas, along with an Italian specialties section that includes the expected (fettuccine Alfredo, lasagna), to more elaborate dishes like the Chicken Alla Diavola, a spicy dish made with dried peppers, and the Veal Scaloppine Alla Veneziana.
Chuck’s also has an assortment of steaks and fried and baked chicken dishes, along with a lasagna for two special, which comes with a carafe of house wine, salads and bread for $28.
My wife and I started things off with a full order of onion rings (only a dollar more than the half order). I’m always curious to check out how the different Italian restaurants prepare their rings. At Chuck’s they are served as actual rings (not strings, like some places), though the breading is not especially heavy. They were light, crisp and very hot.
I wrestled with a few options before ordering the ravioli-spaghetti combination plate, served with a good size chunk of Italian sausage. The ravioli was also stuffed with Italian sausage, and they were quite wonderful. I loved my plate, but I’m very curious to try the grinder, Italian sausage link and meatball sandwiches on the menu.
My wife ordered Chuck’s special top sirloin steak, a 10-ounce piece that arrives on a sizzling hot platter. She described it as a nicely seasoned and trimmed cut of steak. It comes with spaghetti and your choice of potato, making it a pretty hefty meal.
A restaurant doesn’t last as long or attract as dedicated a clientele without quality food behind it. The Highland Park area has seen its share of restaurants come and go over the years, but Chuck’s is a constant that has earned its place in the heart of the neighborhood.
Ravioli-spaghetti ... $10.50
Chuck’s Special ... $20
Onion rings ... $6
Beer ... $5
Soda ... $2
Total with tax and tip: $50.
Find it: 3610 Sixth Ave.
Hours: 4:30-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Live music Thursday-Saturday.
Info: 244-4104, chucksdesmoines.com