Above: Centro chef George Formaro learned to make Rigatoni alla Norma from his mother, Gina Formaro.
By Wini Moranville
Restaurant Week starts this Friday, Aug. 18, and runs until Aug. 27, with nearly 40 local restaurants participating. This year, $28 brings you two lunches or one three-course dinner. Check out the menus here. I’ve personally bookmarked these three restaurants for this food-filled week:
• Centro: This year’s menu pays homage to long-standing south-side families whose forebears immigrated from Italy. Look for favorite family recipes passed down through the generations, such as Noah Lacona’s favorite pasta (with rigatoni, boiled egg, garlic, parsley butter and Parmesan) and pepper steak from Ralph Campiano (of the former Rocky’s Steak House). (1003 Locust St.; 515-248-1780; centrodesmoines.com)
• Proof: Hats off to Sean Wilson and team for offering plenty of great options in each course (choose from three starters, four entrees and three desserts), all of which admirably showcase the layered and refined food found here. Look for a fascinating combo of global inspiration crossed with Southern touches—smoked tomato gazpacho with succotash, anyone? I personally have my eye on Dijon-crusted pork with chimichurri-coated sea island peas, in a dish that’s finished with tarragon and cilantro dust. (Wilson is known for doing amazing things with herbs and spices.) (1301 Locust St., Suite C; 515-244-0655; proofrestaurant.com)
• Harbinger: If you haven’t yet been to Harbinger, Restaurant Week looks like a great chance to find out what chef Joe Tripp‘s Southeast Asian-inspired Midwestern farm-to-table small plates are all about. The menu comprises four plates, starting with an heirloom tomato salad, moving on to Japanese eggplant with Sichuan glaze, and then a round of pork belly (braised Chinese style). Summer peaches star in the one-of-a-kind dessert. (2724 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-244-1314; harbingerdsm.com)