Noah’s Ark Ristorante is one of the mainstays of the Des Moines restaurant landscape. The place has been here so long now that I seriously doubt that there are many folks who can remember a time before Noah’s.
My first memories of Italian Des Moines restaurants include Guido’s and Noah’s. My personal favorite was Guido’s as I was impressed with the white tablecloths and waiters all decked out in their fancy outfits. The service was the best in Des Moines. My relatives, on the other hand, favored Noah’s, and any time that we went out with family, Noah’s was the place to go. After most of my local relatives passed away I just quit going to Noah’s except for the occasional visit.
Well, its time to go back. The restaurant has undergone a mild refinishing after a fire in 2006 and a reboot of the menu. The restaurant is celebrating its 65th year in business, which would put its founding in 1946. The decor does not appear to have changed much since it was first opened, but I’m told that it has indeed been updated. The crowd on the day that we visited was packed and looked very comfortable, like they had been going there for decades. From what I can tell, nobody dresses up to go to Noah’s unless its young kids on a date. “Come as you are” is clearly the byword, which is great if you don’t feel like donning on some fancy duds to eat supper.
The Food. Noah’s offers a fairly traditional menu. I don’t get the impression that many of the diners are looking for avant garde food experiments. To start out, the dinner rolls are fresh-baked and tasty. For the main course we went traditional. My friends recommended the beef, so that is what I tried. I noticed that the menu featured U.S. Prime Top Sirloin and you can’t find U.S. Prime for only $18.95. It was excellently cooked and tasted like U.S. Prime should. I don’t know if this is something that they always have on the menu, but if you want to save a lot money by avoiding 801 Chop House or Flemings for the same top grade of beef, then certainly try Noah’s.
We also tried the Raviolli salsa di pomidoro ($12.95). The pasta in the Raviolli was clearly chef-made and was well prepared. You can hardly beat the price.
We topped off the meal with the Cannoli Pastry. This is a very carefully created cannoli. The cannoli pastry was about the same size as the cannoli served at Gusto just down the street, but smaller than the cannolis served at Chuck’s. That said, it was the best cannoli I’ve had, hands down. I was told that the cannoli was made with an almond ricotta cheese filling. It looked to me like some ground pistachios were sprinkled on the ends.
We also tried the Lemon Apricot Torte. A recent article in Juice suggests that the desserts at Noah’s come from an outside vendor. I have no way of knowing if they do or not, but the Lemon Apricot Torte was a nice change of pace from the usual restaurant selections.
The Service. The service was very professional. There was none of chatty silliness that infects the big chain restaurants. The servers take your order, answer your questions without having to run off to ask the manager, and get the food to your table. All of the staff appear to have worked there for quite some time.
So, if you want some top-quality food at a low price, then Noah’s is a place to consider.
Noah’s Ark Ristorante
11 a.m.-11 p.m.Monday through Thursday
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
2400 Ingersoll Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50312