Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Something Italian: Pizza-by-the-slice… and more.

Something Italian, downtown Des Moines' original purveyor of pizza-by-the-slice, has been serving up lunch-time slices from their Skywalk location inside The Kirkwood since 1999. The pizza that best defines owner Louie Barrata's craft is the Papa Luigi, built on a thin, foldable crust. With a red tomato sauce topped with mozzarella, pepperoni, Graziano’s Italian sausage, black and green olives, mushrooms, and yellow pepper rings, the Papa Luigi is practically a meal. Another red sauce build of note is the Spicy, a solid base of Italian sausage topped with pepperoni and home-grown peppers. Its ridiculously good! And they're no slouch on the basics either, such as cheese, pepperoni, or Italian sausage.

Custom builds I've ordered to go include a Four Cheese with added pepperoni, and salami with black olives.

Something Italian also offers pizza with homemade Alfredo sauce, such as the Portabella Alfredo with mozzarella, portobello mushroom, Roma tomato, artichoke heart, and spinach; or singles meats such as ham or pepperoni.

Deep-dish pizza is served occasionally. Not as voluminous as a true Chicagoland deep-dish, but still a sight to behold with an ample portion of red sauce atop. The crust is quite tender and well-browned on the underside while the high-sided rind is crisp and easy to chew. Alfredo versions also crop up as well.

The occasional specialty like a pizza with chili dog toppings, and daily specials such as meatballs with marinara are popular items. These firm, substantial meatballs swim in a zippy red sauce. If you can find a better meatball outside of a Society of Italian Americans Auxiliary dinner, I’m game to try.

The most popular daily special comes on Tuesday. That’s when Something Italian takes a slice of their sausage pizza and heap upon it a mound of lettuce, crushed tortilla chips, housemade chunky salsa, shredded cheese, black olives, and sour cream. Its not what you’d expect from a taco pizza. It is what it is: a slice of pizza buried under a salad. I can’t possibly eat it by hand, so I attack the salad with a fork until it reaches a more manageable size, then fold up the remainder like a taco.

Daily specials also include specialty pasta dishes such as sausage lasagne. One decadent example I've enjoyed tossed penne pasta in a cheese sauce cobbled together from Alfredo sauce, shredded cheddar, bacon, and salami.

On top of pizzas and pastas, Something Italian offers a number of sandwiches, such as Italian sausage or meatballs tucked into toasty house-baked hoagie rolls. Yet another daily special is the Italian Grilled Cheese, pairing country Italian bread with fresh mozzarella, smoked Gouda, Havarti, and Asiago cheeses along with tomato, spinach, and a pesto spread. It's a quattro formaggi overload! A salad and pasta bar rounds out the lunch menu.

During the winter months, Something Italian is open for dinner on Friday nights from 5 to 8 p.m., with beer, wine, and specials such as the Hothead with spicy pizza sauce, pepperoni, Italian sausage, spicy giardiniera, jalapeño, and Sriracha. Pizzas made to order, cut tavern style, are available as well.

Operating from a tent on Saturday mornings during the Downtown Farmers' Market' summer season, Something Italian offers a plethora of breakfast pizzas and frittatas. Among pizzas the Veggie and Meat Trio with ham, bacon, and pepperoni are the most popular. More fanciful builds include pizzas with bacon, smoked ham, and oven poached eggs; bacon and mini-waffles with a pancake syrup drizzle; a Breakfast Supreme with bacon, Italian sausage, green and black olives, and green and banana peppers; sausage with egg and Sriracha; and pizza with biscuits and gravy.

Louie's own mother, Rosina, makes the breakfast frittatas. And the pride she takes in creating them is revealed with every delicious slice. Varieties offered include bacon; a three cheese with Gorgonzola, Blue and ricotta; ham and potato; a hearty ham, portobello mushroom, and spinach; and Italian sausage

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