With a large Italian community in Des Moines, there's a number of very good Italian restaurants in the city. I've been to a number of them, but the one that I had never been to before is Tumea and Sons. And I've heard it was the best of the best in the city.
Tumea and Sons is located south and east of the downtown area (see map), not far from Principal Park. It's housed in a non-descript building with a large parking lot and a Bocci Ball court in back. Tumea and Sons hosts a number of Bocci tournaments when the weather permits.
Joe Tumea came to the U.S. from Italy in 1960 and worked as a tailor at a men's clothing store. He met his future wife, Lucretia, who was also working as a tailor at the same store. They married in 1967 and produced four sons. Eventually, Joe and Lu opened Tumea and Sons in 1998 using a number of old world Italian recipes, as well as their own interpretation of dishes they had at other Italian restaurants. The Tumea family are all involved in the day to day operation of the restaurant.
I was in Des Moines recently and decided to see if what people had told me about Tumea and Sons was true. I got to the restaurant around 8:30 and there weren't many people in the place. I took a seat at the bar and got a menu. The menu was pretty extensive with a number of appetizers, salads and anti-pasto to get you started. Entrees included chicken, veal, pasta and seafood. There was a lot to choose from.
All the pasta entrees are served with a red sauce and it's $2.50 extra to request a cream sauce with the meal. So the $10.50 fettuccine dish becomes $13.00 dollars when you order it alfredo. Add seafood to the dish and it's another $3.50. Still, $16.50 for a plate of seafood fettuccine alfredo is pretty reasonable. I've paid significantly more for a similar meal.
And that's what I ordered - the seafood fettuccine alfredo. A dinner salad with homemade Italian dressing came with the meal. I didn't ask for the wine list because I felt like drinking beer with my meal that evening, so I don't know how extensive their wine selection is.
When the seafood fettuccine alfredo was brought out to me, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was a healthy portion of food. The pasta was perfectly cooked, there were generous portions of seafood scattered throughout, and the white cream sauce was very delicious. It was quite a meal. But, too much food. I couldn't finish the meal, it was so large and very rich. And very, very good.
Tumea and Sons also features a number of homemade desserts including tiramisu, cannolis and and cheesecake. It was tempting, but I was too stuffed from the meal.
The restaurant is open for lunch from 11 to 2 each weekday, and for dinner from 5 to 9 each evening (10 p.m. on Saturdays.) They're closed on Sundays.
I don't know if Tumea and Sons is truly the best Italian restaurant in Des Moines, but it's definitely in my excellent category. I would have no problem recommending Tumea and Sons to anyone visiting Des Moines, and I hope to make it back sometime soon.