- 1605 Woodland Ave., Des Moines, IA, 50309
- Overall User Rating:
- (1 rating)
- 5:30 p.m.-close Thursday and Friday.
- Official Web Site:
Preliminary visit — not yet rated
Here’s concept for a restaurant: Rent space by the night in a historic home that’s already set up for special events. Open just two nights a week. Then, pour all your passion and resources into the dining experience — rather than squandering your gifts on other details, like high overhead and not-so-silent partners.
It’s a formula that seems to be working splendidly for Zingaro.
Who/What: Zingaro is an Italian term for an itinerant Gypsy laborer. It’s a fitting name for a restaurant operated by chef Hal Jasa, who once gained acclaim for his Underground, Inc. dinners — renegade experiences produced in ever-changing locations.
Ambience: From the outside, the top floors of the Sheuerman House look funky and forlorn, but inside, the main floor enacts a gracious Sherman Hill experience, in a 21st-century way. Candelabras and antique etched lamps cast a glow on the modern furniture, while jeans-clad servers bustle around the snug dining room. Live piano music in a parlor mingles with the clatter from the kitchen for a distinctively lively, anything-but-stuffy vibe.
Menu: Dinner costs $30 for three courses; choose among three starters, three entrées and dessert, with a vegetarian option for all courses. Charcuterie and cheese are available separately. Jasa plans to change his menu weekly, depending on what’s seasonal and available from the small-scale farmers and suppliers he works with.
Food — first impressions: Nearly everything I tasted was presented in a way that made me really taste it.
Take, for instance, the spoonful of mashed Yukon gold potatoes and the crisped prosciutto that garnished the split pea soup. Those salty/earthy effects brought the sweetness of the split peas into sharp focus — they have more in common with garden-fresh peas than I’d ever noticed before. And what a treat to taste something both winter-hearty yet spring-fresh on this cold night, so far from the growing season.
The trout’s supporting flavors — caramely bits of Brussels sprouts, applewood-smoked bacon and a sparkle of lemon — certainly enticed, but in no way distracted from the fish in all its astonishingly meaty, moist and flavorful glory.
Dinner continued mostly in that vein, with only a misfire or two, including a barely lukewarm and one-dimensionally spicy French Onion soup.
Expect surprises: Before dessert, our server presented a bowl of lemons and water into which he poured liquid nitrogen, spreading a luminous fog over the table that enchanted, then vanished, echoing the restaurant itself, which dazzles then disappears after the lights go out Friday nights.
Fortunately, Zingaro comes back on Thursdays.