- 4801 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, IA, 50266
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.-close Monday through Friday. 11 a.m.-close (anywhere from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.) Saturday and Sunday.
- Official Web Site:
When my husband and first moved to Iowa, something strange began to happen. Every time we asked folks about local restaurants, then tried the ones they raved about, we discovered a troubling fact: If natives loved a place, we, without a doubt, didn't. We began to refer their puzzling tastes as ITS, or Iowa Taste Syndrome.
Now, before anyone gets a napkin in a knot thinking that I am a big-city girl making fun of hinterland cuisine, read on: I am from South Dakota - a place where "hot dishes" are prepared with canned soup and Jell-O is haute cuisine. Snobbiness is not the issue.
It's a real problem, and it went into high gear when we dined at Des Moines' beloved Felix & Oscars.
Space: Wisely, the tasteless dog-and-pony show that once defined former tenant Buca di Beppo's decor has been erased. In its place are three lovely elements: clean, white and simple. Seating is utilitarian but comfy, and a series of small dining rooms make the place feel rather intimate.
Service: Under the circumstances, service was admirable. Waiters maintained calm and friendly while they delivered food as quickly as the kitchen was able to produce it. Anyone who has enough guts and patience to work in a place that draws the hoards of screaming babies, tantrum-inclined toddlers and youth-run-amok that we contended with during both of our visits deserves sainthood.
Menu: Anchored by deep-pan pizza, itself a Midwestern invention, the bulk of Felix & Oscar's menu features a typical selection of quasi-Italian fare. For those who prefer a meal between two slices of bread, there are plenty of half-pound burgers and croissant sandwiches as well.
Unfortunately, item after item brought disappointment. Most grievous was the venue's claim to fame: Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza. Missing was the aromatic, well-developed, yeasty, chewy-textured crust that I love. In its place was a pale, insipid and flavorless facsimile filled with low-quality cheeses, mystery meat and still-raw vegetables.
Fried appetizers, served lukewarm, languished in puddles of grease. Sandwiches arrived on cheap, blindingly white bread. Baked Cavatelli, usually a winner in these parts, was overcooked and bland.
Be sure to try: Two made-from-scratch soups did their best to soften my criticism. Both of them - Italian Chicken and Pasta Soup and Pizza Soup - were thick and so packed with the goods that they nearly held a spoon upright. Fettuccine Alfredo, a house specialty, was satiny, rich and quite wonderful.
Bottom line: Fine for those with Iowa Taste Syndrome.