A couple of weeks ago we were looking for a nice place to celebrate a special occasion, our 22nd anniversary. I'd heard some very nice things about a newer place in Ames, so we decided to try +39 Restaurant, an authentic Italian restaurant. Located in the Somerset area at 2640 Stange Road in Ames, +39 opened late last year. It's a combination of restaurant, cantina, and market, and quite the unique place.
The specialty market & deli features Italian meats and cheeses, traditional salads, fresh baked breads, plus an assortment of dry goods and gourmet products, many available only at +39. You can also order rustic panini and house-made gelato and enjoy it right in the market area.
The bar/cantina area features a beautiful bar and comfy seating with a fireplace. +39 features nearly 200 Italian wines, some from each of the 20 Italian wine regions, so it is an excellent spot to sip some great wine. The full service bar also offers some wonderful cocktails.
The dining area is spacious, classy, and modern. This is definitely a special occasion place, but would be equally nice for a business lunch, or any gathering with great friends or family.
We were quickly seated at a beautiful table and given cocktail, wine and food menus. Our server, Lindsey, was very helpful in answering our questions on the menu, and suggested some cocktails for us to try while we decided on our selections.
Since it was our special day, and, because I really like them, I ordered the Bellini - white peach nectar and Brut sparkling wine - what's not to love?
Grant enjoyed the Italian Greyhound made with Hendricks gin, fresh grapefruit juice, and rosemary simple syrup - an exceptional cocktail.
For an appetizer, we ordered the Formaggi Musti - Italian cheeses with traditional accompaniment. Two more mild cheeses, plus a more strongly flavored blue cheese-type cheese - all complemented the sweeter elements nicely.
They also brought out some great tasting olive oil and vinegar to enjoy with their fresh baked bread. Such a treat, the bread was delicious with the cheeses, too.
By this time, it was time for some wine! The wine list is extensive, and there is a sommelier on staff, but we knew we wanted a chianti, so we chose this delightful Gabbiano Chianti Classico. Smooth and dry, with a hint of fruit, this was a very pleasant chianti.
For his entree, Grant chose the Pappardelle Bolognese. The pork and beef ragu was rich and satisfying, the house-made pasta was cooked to perfection, and the tomato and red wine sauce was flavorful, yet not overly heavy. This dish truly shows that +39 is truly an authentic Italian restaurant.
I love carbonara sauces, so I ordered the Rigatoni Carbonara. Loaded with panchetta, red onion, parmesan and romano cheese, and tossed with egg, this was a creamy and delicious dish. Easily one of the best I've had in central Iowa.
Even though the pastas are an excellent choice, +39 does offer many other menu items including small plates, steak, seafood, and chicken, as well. They even serve breakfast and a Sunday bruch. I'm very sure we'll be back to try many more dishes here.
We even splurged on dessert! I mean, really, after that awesome dinner, how could we not have dessert. Grant had the Chocolate Pistachio Cake, served with pistachio gelato. All desserts are made in-house and this cake was wonderful - fudgy, moist, very chocolaty - the gelato was a creamy addition to the plate and had so much flavor.
I kept it simple with a dish of Chocolate Gelato - gelato can sometimes be a little too icy for me, but not at +39. Creamy, with rich cocoa taste, melt-in-your-mouth texture - this is the way gelato is supposed to taste. Another vote for authenticity!
Really, we are so fortunate to have a place like +39 in central Iowa - if you live anywhere near Ames, this is a must visit restaurant. Authentic Italian cuisine, excellent service, great wine selection, superb cocktails - you'll find it all at +39 Restaurant, Market & Cantina. We are making a return visit SOON.
+39 Restaurant, Market & Cantina
2640 Stange Road
Ames, IA 50010
Monday - Saturday 7:00am - 10:00pm
Friday - Saturday 7:00am - 1:00am
Sunday 10:00am - 9:00pm
Menus and more information at www.plus39italian.com