Some friends and I happened to be talking about this place in Ames named Pizza Pit the other day. It was a laughing stock years ago but seems to have reinvented themselves in recent years. Apparently they have become better known for their wings than their pizza. So much so that former students will travel from Des Moines to Ames (roughly a 45 minute trip) just for their wings. Personally, I don't see it. I recently tried their wings and was not impressed at all. But talking about that place had me reminiscing about other spots Ames had that were quite tha bomb back in the day.
Fortunately, some of the staples that were in Ames from my college days are still around. Even if they're not quite as good. Lucallan's still sits in the old downtown portion of the city though has different ownership so the food is not as tasty. Great Plains and their world famous deep dish pizza is still in the same area also. Then there is Hickory Park which is arguably one of the better barbecue places in Iowa in lieu of no Gates. However, the place that many of my generation loved the most is no longer around.
DaVinci's was an Italian restaurant that sat just outside of campustown. Close enough that anyone could walk to if need be but they also delivered. It actually hung around for quite a while. It wasn't until about five years ago or so that they closed it down to be replaced by some Chinese restaurant. I can't understand how they weren't getting enough business to stay open because it always had the perfect location, perfect food and perfect prices.
To call it a "restaurant" may be a little misleading. Whenever I hear that word I think of a formal place where you go and have dinner and doesn't have a tendency to deliver. Although Da Vinci's did have a dining room where folks could sit down and eat if they wanted to I just don't recall ever using it. In fact, it was always pretty empty whenever I would stop in on the rare instances to pick up an order rather have it delivered. Ohh...maybe that's why they're no longer in business?
Different people will give you different versions of what Da Vinci's specialty was. For most it was their Philly cheesesteak hoagie. Til this day I still don't know what a real cheesesteak from Philly tastes like. So I'm sure anyone who has will scoff at the idea that Da Vinci's versions were pure heaven. Say what you want, but they really were. Especially when you get extra meat. Their meat was tender and succulent enough that when it combined with the cheese it would all practically melt in your mouth. I think I may be salivating just thinking about one of those joints.
Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to try something different from there. Even though I absolutely LOVED those cheesesteaks. So I switched it up and ordered a roast beef hoagie. It was INCREDIBLE! I don't know if it was the lettuce or the sauce or the fact that I was just always hungry or what, but it was just as good as their cheesesteaks. I knew whenever I wanted a change of pace I could always go that route and be just as good.
But alas...the closing of Da Vinci's would mean the dream sammiches would be gone forever. The worst part about it is I don't know of another location even remotely close. I've never seen one anywhere else in Iowa. It's too bad because the one thing that Ames always had were niche eateries that set Ames apart from everywhere else. Now we have to rely on places like The Cafe to provide good food? These kids these days have no idea what they're missing.