- 417 S.W. Third St., Ankeny, IA, 50021
- Overall User Rating:
- (115 ratings)
- 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
As much as red-sauced cavatelli is a favorite Italian-American dish in Des Moines, I’ve found few rave-worthy versions. (I tend to get bored with the dish about four bites into it). Then I tasted Pete Ranallo’s take at his uptown Ankeny restaurant, Ranallo’s on Third, and I finally got a taste of what all the fuss is about.
Ambience: The subdued, white-tablecloth ambience melds warm earth tones, blond wood and low lighting for date-worthy effects (though I certainly spotted many shorts and ball caps here, too.)
Menu: Find many best-sellers in the Italian-American vein. Calamari, crab cakes, spinach-artichoke dip and the like kick off the apps menu, followed by pasta, steaks and a few seafood dishes. Of particular note are the flatbreads, baked and topped in a variety of ways, from pesto chicken and barbecue shrimp to pepperoni. Our server mentioned these were especially popular in the lounge.
Food: Best Bites: Go for the cavatelli; the homemade, delightfully chewy dumpling-like noodles arrived swathed in a red sauce that’s at once bright and deep, with a spice level that kept us coming back for more. Dotted with Graziano sausage, and topped with a trio of melted cheeses (asiago, Parmesan and provolone), it’s an irresistible version of this local, time-honored favorite.
We also enjoyed a fine Chicken Marsala; the flour-dusted, pan-seared breasts arrived enrobed in a mushroom-studded sweet Marsala wine sauce — with the focus on sweet.
Salads brought a good mix of greens and homemade dressings, and the breadbasket brims with a homemade American white that’s dense, warm and kind of addictive. The broccoli-cheese soup was good, as far as broccoli cheese soups go.
Middle of the road: The rib-eye carried a prime designation, and the kitchen perfectly nailed its medium temperature, sending out a promising-looking cut that revealed a juicy pink when we sliced into it. Yet while the flavor was adequate, somehow the rich, beefy-opulent appeal we longed for never really kicked in.
Next time I’ll skip: Most disappointing was the seafood trio, with surprisingly dull scallops and a farm-raised salmon that was so lacking in flavor it might as well have been canned. On this plate, the crab cake tasted best — the soft, tender patty favored sweet seafood over filler. Next time, I’ll order the crab cakes as an appetizer, and skip the scallops and salmon.
Service: Even though the restaurant seemed understaffed both nights, our congenial and keyed-in server missed very few beats.