If you like wine, you’ll love +3912/24/2014
Iowans used to have to make a trip to the nearest Olive Garden to get a taste of Italy. Similar restaurants offer varieties of pasta and wines, but none so authentic as to make diners feel as though they are really on an Italian vacation.
None, that is, until the real flavors of Italy crossed the Atlantic and settled in Ames, in the form of +39 Restaurant, Market and Cantina.
Alessandro Andreoni and his wife Elisabetta traveled all the way from Italy to bring the food, flavors and culture they know and love to America. Inspired by the handcrafted pasta his grandmother made and shared with her village when he was a child, Alessandro created two restaurants in Italy to share his passion for food.
But he wanted to spread those authentic flavors even farther, which led him to Ames.
Located on the northern side of the city, away from the fast pace of the college town, is Iowa’s very own piece of Italy. +39 offers a large dining area and bar, a lounge surrounding a cozy fireplace that leads to an open wine cellar with more seating, and a small market that sells Italian pasta, meats, cheeses, gelato and other various items.
The food might have started the whole endeavor, but the wine might just be what visitors remember most from the trip. The cantina offers almost 200 varieties from all 20 of Italy’s wine regions. That’s a large number on paper, but it seems even bigger when the bottles are displayed from floor to ceiling on the walls.
With so many options, one might feel overwhelmed in choosing the right bottle — but that’s where the staff comes in. +39 has employed a knowledgeable, helpful staff ready and willing to suggest wines that might fit your tastes based on what you normally drink.
It might be an intimidating venture for those wine drinkers who don’t have an extensive knowledge on the beverage. Italian wines are noticeably different from those you’ll find at any grocery or liquor store around here, but don’t let that scare you away. +39 offers scheduled wine tastings to give visitors a little education in the hopes that it will enhance their experience with the wines.
Each of the wines can be purchased by the bottle to take with you or to enjoy right there in the restaurant. The fireplace lounge is the perfect place to cozy up with a date or enjoy an evening with a large group, thanks to its modern leather couches that seat up to 20 people. The space offers some privacy from the rest of the place and a great view of the wall of wine — a beautiful backdrop for the wine-obsessed.
Prices range from $16 for a sparkling option to $148 for a Toscana red, with every price in between. Individual glasses are in the competitive range of $5 to $9, though the list for those options is much shorter, offering just three sparkling, five whites, one rosé and nine reds.
For those who’d prefer a different beverage, there are signature cocktails, a variety of spirits, a beer list and several after dinner drinks.
Olive Garden never looked so American. CV
+39 Italian Restaurant
2640 Stange Road, Ames
Mon.-Thurs. 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 7 a.m.-1 a.m.
Sun. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.