Baratta’s seems to enjoy playing hide and seek with Des Moines diners.
The original Italian restaurant, tucked away in a residential neighborhood on South Union Street, plays this fact up in its TV commercials. Viewers are teased with the restaurant’s charms, then comes the tagline — “if you can find us.”
You have to know where to look if you want to dine at Cafe Baratta’s downtown as well. It’s located at the top of the Iowa Historical Building — an easy trip in the elevator and well worth it.
I introduced my dining companion to this hidden oasis when we needed a quiet lunch away from the office recently. The restaurant is peaceful and the view of the treetops and downtown buildings and monuments is spectacular.
The menu is brief, but covers all the bases for a pleasant lunch — soup, salad, pasta, sandwiches and panini. Everything is less than $10.
My companion chose the day’s special, which was steak pasta ($8.95). I ordered the chicken Waldorf salad croissant with green salad as my side ($7.95). We enjoyed excellent brewed tea while we waited.
My companion’s lunch pleased the eyes and the palate. Strips of steak, red and green peppers and mushrooms were tossed with alfredo sauce and fettuccine noodles. The dish was seasoned with Cajun spices, and at his request the level of heat had been reduced to his liking.
Three or four gorgeous layer cakes were displayed in a case near the cash register, and some generous slices were served at the next table. We were tempted, but cake would have to wait til next time.
600 E. Locust
(Iowa Historical Building)
Mon. – Fri.: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.