If a classic plate of spaghetti drenched in a robust red sauce and dotted with meatballs sounds like your idea of a perfect meal, new restaurant Anna Dolce might be the spot for you.
Tentatively scheduled for an April 19 opening in the former Blu Toro Cantina & Grill in West Glen Town Center, Anna Dolce will be serving updated Italian American classics, like the previously mentioned spaghetti and meatballs.
“Believe it or not, that’s one of the menu items I’m most excited about,” said Joe McConville, co-owner and head chef at Anna Dolce. “Nothing’s too contemporary. It’s just kind of updating and modernizing the classics.”
Former Blue Toro Cantina & Grill owners Annie and Tom Baldwin, who run the Dark Side of the Spoon hospitality group, are partnering with McConville and his restaurant group, Frank’s Divine Pie, to bring Anna Dolce to life.
“We are all from Des Moines, and we just want to add to the culture,” McConville said of the partnership. He co-owns Gusto Pizza Co., Juniper Moon and El Guapo’s Tequila + Tacos with partners Josh Holderness and Tony Lemmo of Aposto. Dark Side of the Spoon operates a plethora of local bars and restaurants, many of which are in West Glen, including Wellman’s Pub, Shotgun Betty’s and The Irish.
“We are just excited to bring another option to the West Des Moines market,” McConville said. “We are really excited to launch another venue with this new partnership we have.”
The partnership between the restaurant groups has also produced The Breakfast Club, which opened Feb. 28 in the East Village.
Anna Dolce’s menu will include appetizers, salads, small, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, seafood, meat entrées and dessert.
McConville is enthusiastic about the offerings and said he had so many ideas they didn’t all make it to the final menu. He noted that it is normal for restaurants to serve some items to fill menu space, but said there are no fillers at Anna Dolce.
The restaurant interior will have an upscale, modern feel and will include a party room available for reservations. The space includes a garage door and a bar that straddles the indoor and outdoor areas and opens to a small patio.
“We really want to try to build a happy-hour culture that seamlessly moves into a good dinner service,” McConville said. “And we hope to transition from that into a decent late night.”
There will be plenty of happy hour specials and a hand-crafted cocktails list, he added.
Anna Dolce was originally slated to open last fall, but the COVID-19 pandemic kept it at bay. Instead, McConville said, he and his business partners threw their efforts into The Breakfast Club. For now, they are focused on running The Breakfast Club and opening Anna Dolce, but more concepts may be coming, McConville said.
Anna Dolce will be open seven days a week starting at 3 p.m.