Noah's Ark is one of those old time restaurants that has been a large part of my life. As a kid growing up, it was always the "cool" place to eat in Des Moines when we'd go there. And now as an adult, it's still one of my all-time favorite places to visit. Not only is the food good, but the nostalgic value is still certainly very high.
Noah's Ark began in 1946 when Noah Lacona opened the doors at 2400 Ingersoll Ave. in Des Moines (see map). Over the years, Noah became one of a number of colorful characters who headed restaurants in the Des Moines area along with guys like Babe Bisignano (Babe's Restaurant), his brother, Chuck Bisignano (Chuck's Restaurant), Frank Bonanno (Bammie's Restaurant), and Joe Guidicessi (Christopher's). Lacona's grandson, James, is the current manager of the restaurant.
Noah's Ark is famous for serving the first pizza in Des Moines. And over the years, the recipe hasn't changed a bit. Thin, crispy crust dusted with flour on the bottom; large chunks of sausage; and a wonderful tangy tomato sauce make this one of the best pizzas in Des Moines. Noah's may be the first place I ever had a bite of pizza, so it's always a treat to go in and have one.
I got into Des Moines one evening recently in time to grab a pizza from Noah's. There's plenty of parking behind and just to the west of Noah's, as well as on Ingersoll Ave. It was around 8:30 when I got in there, so it wasn't a problem to park. I was shown to a booth in the restaurant and the hostess handed me a menu. Noah's Ark serves typical Italian food for the Midwest. Nothing too dazzling or provocative. And it's primarily southern Italian style with the emphasis on red sauces and the like.
They also serve steaks and chops at Noah's Ark, but I was going for the pizza. The waitress showed up and I ordered a small (10") sausage, pepperoni, and mushroom pizza. It had been a while since I'd had a pizza from Noah's, so I was really looking forward to the taste sensation.
Looking around at Noah's, I don't think the place has changed all that much from when I first visited in the 60's. It still has the dark wood walls with the comfy booths and spacious tables. While it's definitely not modern, Noah's has aged very well.
My waitress brought out the pizza - exactly as I remember - thin crust with flour on the bottom, big chunks of sausage, tangy sauce, wonderful pepperoni. The taste was as I always remember. And the small is more than enough for one person. I definitely didn't go away hungry.
Noah's Ark is one of those restaurants that I've just sort of taken for granted all these years. It's not spectacular cuisine and I'm sure there's even better pizza and Italian food at other restaurants in Des Moines. But the one thing remains about Noah's is their consistency. You'll never have to worry about getting a bad meal there.