The Italiano is one of the specialty sandwiches available for lunch at Vino 209 in Valley Junction.
By Wini Moranville
“How is everything?” our server asked.
“Great!” my friend and I answered, both at the same time.
As soon as the server was out of hearing distance, my friend leaned in and said, “Isn’t it just so great to be able to say that—enthusiastically—and mean it?”
Indeed. In a sea of reasonably good but rarely remarkable lunches in the world, it’s a delight to come upon such a dynamic and fine-tuned casual midday meal.
We were at Vino 209, the handsome wine bar in Valley Junction, where I had just tucked into the white truffle melt. This expertly (and greaselessly) toasted sandwich, filled with an oozy and translucent Muenster cheese and satisfyingly hefty thick-slab bacon, was elevated with peppery arugula and a touch of opulence via a thankfully restrained truffle aioli (too much truffle flavoring can make something raunchy when it wants to be refined).
The soup option alongside was not, thankfully, tomato-basil or roasted red pepper or yet another butternut squash song-and-dance. And though it would be easy to pass up an option inauspiciously labeled “Pork and Bean Soup,” my leap of faith was rewarded: White beans, bits of charcuterie and pork sausage, and vegetables that were tender yet still colorful bobbed around a lightly creamy base for a fresh, one-of-a-kind find.
My dining buddy was equally happy with her lightly warmed Italiano sandwich: prosciutto, salami, provolone, arugula and avocado stacked (but not heaped) between slices of rosemary flatbread. Here, the polishing touch was a judicious slather of honey aioli.
A trip to the dessert case, which tempts with its colorful cakes and cheesecakes, is a must. We split the ample “Summerberry Stack,” a sweet, tart and pretty dessert stacked with cake-like, cheesecake-like and citrus-pie-like layers.
Vino 209 is at 209 Fifth St., West Des Moines; 515-255-1209; vino209.com.