- 407 E. Fifth St., Des Moines, IA, 50309
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- Monday-Saturday 7a.m.-2p.m.
- Official Web Site:
Des Moines has many options for pizza in a variety of styles, and newcomer Bagni di Lucca is a welcome — and one-of-a-kind — addition to the scene.
Who/What: Steve Logsdon, owner of the stylish Northern Italian-focused Lucca restaurant, opened Bagni di Lucca last June.
Both restaurants get their names from locales in Tuscany — Lucca refers both to a famous hill town, as well as its surrounding region; Bagni di Lucca is a smaller town known for its thermal springs. Appropriately, Bagni di Lucca is the smaller of the two East Village restaurants.
Ambiance: The bare-bones look of the minimally decorated bakery (formerly Basil Prosperi East) may leave some diners cold, while others will find its neo-urban appeal edgy and energetic.
Menu: Pizza, calzones, side salads and gelato — that’s pretty much it. At lunch, pizza and calzones with salad go for $8.75; at dinner (served Friday and Saturdays only), the combo costs $10.
Though you could possibly customize your own pie, this is the type of place where you should put yourself in the hands of the experts, and choose one of the kitchen’s well-studied combinations. Choices include Frutti di Mare (shrimp, scallops, black olives, feta), Potato Pesto, Pancetta-Rosemary, Genovese (artichoke, pesto, ricotta), Prosciutto (with baby-greens and Parmesan) and other thoughtful toppers.
Also of note are the admirably purveyed wines, including good, off-the-beaten-path Spanish and Italian picks, all for $7 a glass or $30 a bottle.
Impressions: The crazy-hot bakery ovens (heated to around 625 degrees) fire the expert crusts to a delightfully crisp texture, with plenty of blistery crackly bubbles; a dusting of cornmeal adds extra crunch.
These are refined, Euro-style pies. The red sauce provides just a subtle layer of flavor, rather than a defining note; in most cases, the toppings are judiciously balanced. Best was the Potato-Pesto, with see-through-thin potato slices topped with fresh pesto and a sprinkle of pine nuts, with dots of fresh mozzarella here and there. A close second was the immensely satisfying “Quatro Stagione” pizza, a classic pie with four separate quadrants topped with olives, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and ham.
The extra-cheesy calzones are for those who like their food on the ooey-gooey side. Least successful — yet only minorly so — was the Pancetta-Rosemary pie; with its overload of salty pancetta, it was the only case where an artful balance was lacking.
Stay for Dessert? Yes — try the imported-from-Italy gelato — the nougat-y Spumoni proved a great choice.