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Taste of Italy

IMG_3269IMG_3257Okay. So I like to think I’m pretty in-the-know when it comes to great places to eat in the metro.  But this one I totally overlooked until now.  I’m not sure how this flew under my radar for so long, but now that I know about it, I’m hooked.

It’s called Taste of Italy, and you’ve probably seen them at some summer festivals like I have, but I guess I didn’t realize they had an actual restaurant…until now.  They are located in right on University in Clive at the Swanson Blvd. intersection. So its super convenient from pretty much everywhere in the metro.  And this is good! Because you are going to want to go there.

IMG_3262 IMG_3263They have these authentic sandwiches that are just to-die-for!  And a wonderful deli and grocery selection.  They carry grocery items from lots of other local establishments like South Union breads, Orlando’s dressing and Gino’s sauce.

Stop in for a sandwich and to pick up some items to make something Italian for dinner! It gets pretty busy around the lunch hour and they don’t have a ton of seating, so get there early or take your sub to go.  I hope you like it as much as we did!

 

IMG_3259 IMG_3266Hours
Monday: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Tuesday through Friday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Closed Sunday

A Taste of Italy
8421 University Blvd, Suite D
Clive, Iowa 50325
(515) 221-0743

 

Aspen Martial Arts

IMG_5316So as you may have noticed, we came out with our 2015 Summer Camp List  this week.  There are lots of great choices for summer activities in the Des Moines area, which is awesome!

IMG_5038An addition to this year’s list is Martial Arts at Aspen Athletics on Hickman Road in Clive.  You may not realize that these cool classes are open to everyone and not just Aspen Athletic Gym members.

I had the opportunity to visit a class this week and I was so impressed! IMG_5241 Classes are led by Master Jack.  Master Jack has 20 years experience of practicing Martial Arts and holds a B.S. in Kinesiology with a Youth Sports concentration from Iowa State.  He was so great with the students.  The atmosphere was relaxed, but these guys were concentrating and working hard!  Most importantly, they were all having a blast!  In the short time I watched them, they did everything from core exercises to kickboxing to self-defense.  Talk about extensive training!

IMG_5069There are classes for adults and teens as well as kids and families and for every level.  I’m especially excited about the three weeks of summer camp they are offering this year in June.  The themes include: Ultimate Ninja Warrior Camp, Extreme Action Movie Camp and Epic Samurai Skills Camp.  I wish I could do this!  And if you register for two weeks, you get a third week free!  Hurry up though, because they are filling fast. (http://www.aspenmartialarts.com/camp). Camps are geared toward ages 7 and up and start at 8:30am and pick up is between 4 and 4:30pm.

FullSizeRender-1 Summer-Camps-Web-e1427671346879If you’ve been thinking about checking out a Martial Arts program for your kids (or yourself) I encourage you to check out Aspen Martial Arts.  Master Jack is super friendly and would be happy to answer any questions you have.  You can even attend a free trial class!  Especially check out the camps they are offering this summer!  You can register right on their website.

http://eatplaylovedesmoines.com/2015/04/2015-des-moines-area-summer-camp-list.html

PepperJax Grill

PepperJax Grill is a pretty new chain in the Midwest and very new to Des Moines with locations in Clive and Ankeny.
Normally I don’t review chains, but I was pretty impressed with PepperJax and since it’s new, I’ll give it a go.  They are located at 9901 University Ave. in Clive on the oposite side of the Valley West Mall.

They offer HUGE portions in a Qdoba or Pancheros style of fixing.

You decide on a philly sandwich, rice bowl, giant wrap or salad, choose chicken, steak, veggies or shrimp and go to town filling it with toppings.  I’ll just give you the selection straight from their website:

Signature Sauces
Au Jus, Sweet Asian, Creole Mushroom, Original Hearty Steak Sauce, Classic Bold Steak Sauce, Sweet Homestyle BBQ Sauce

Complimentary Toppings
Onions, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Jalapenos, Pinto Beans, Black Beans, Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese Blend, Black Olives, Ranch Dressing, Lite Ranch Dressing, Spicy Ranch Dressing, Caesar Dressing, Salsa (mild or hot), Shredded Lettuce, Tomatoes, Dorothy Lynch, Raspberry Vinaigrette And More


Kids choose from a mini rice bowl, chicken strips or corn dogs. Pictured here is my sons choice meal of corn dogs.  He actually ate some of the hot dogs rather than just eating the breading, so they must have been pretty good.

All-in-all,  you are going to get a good, filling, tasty meal.  For a quick lunch or dinner that is different from your norm, check out PepperJax and let us know what you think!

Cache Bake Shoppe

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Cookies and cupcakes and cake balls, oh my!

I stopped into Cache Bake Shoppe the other day to check out the store after enjoying some delicious Cache desserts at the Mommy & Me Sweetheart dance and just falling in love with the cheesecake shot-type desserts they were offering that evening.  I don’t remember what they were called exactly, but the were so cute.  Tall shot-glassses, full of chocolate mouse and cheesecake served with mini spoons.  So good.

 

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Anyway, the store isn’t huge, but it’s fun to look through the tall glass windows right into where all of the action is happening.

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You can see eight into the baker’s workspace and watch them work.  The main things in the store are the cake ball display to your right when you enter with at least 20 different flavors, the cupcake menu, which is very cool because you can choose your cupcake flavor and frosting flavor and they frost your cake upon ordering and a cookie display.

 

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I was also impressed to see that they had some gluten-free offerings.  I tried the gf almond cake balls and they were delicious.

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If you’re just needing a pick-me-up or have a special event coming up, check out Cache Bake Shoppe.

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Table 128

get-attachment-20.aspxget-attachment-8.aspx Behind the Caribou Coffee on University Ave in Clive, lies Table 128.  I was saddened by the closing of Shane’s Rib Shack and never made it to Tartine which took its place, but the latest restaurant to inhabit the location is Table 128 and gosh I hope they are here to stay.

My friend Maria and I met for lunch at Table 128 (oh the joys of having only one school-aged child) and it was lovely.  The lunch menu encompassed a variety of small plates including a cheese plate, scampi satay as well as something called Ugly Donuts which I’m told are a savory donut with red sauce and parmesan.  Yum.

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Soups, salad and sandwiches are abundant on the lunch menu, but toppings like pickled pear, brie and Dijon aioli replace standard topping on burgers and crab cakes are a choice to adorn salads as well as sandwiches here.

 

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I ordered the special of the day during our visit which was a braised pork sandwich with a pepper relish which was fabulous. And while I know my love for Truffle fries is a common theme in my posts,  the fries here did not disappoint.

Table 128 is a refreshing addition to this area of town where lots of chain restaurants abound.  Fancy enough for a business lunch and causal enough to meet an old (or new) friend. Try Table 128 for a great meal.

The dinner menu looks just as appetizing and includes most of the lunch options with added entrees such as beef tenderloin, duck and lamb rack all with modern twists on side dishes.  I can’t wait to try dinner here too.  If you’ve dined here for dinner, what did you enjoy?

Zuzap

We’ve been to Zuzap Thai restaurant a few times now and have always had solid experiences.  It’s located on University Ave. in Clive, but you can’t quite see it from the street, it’s set back behind some other shops in the plaza.

 

 

For lunch on a weekday, the restaurant was busy, but the service was still quick and efficient.  It was fun hearing the owner greet regulars already knowing their order and calling them by name.
We must have been in for dinner on our last visits because this was the first time I noticed their very neat “Lunch Sets”.

 


$7.95 includes an egg roll, soup of the day and an entree.  For an extra charge, you can pick a soup off the menu and pick your appetizer instead of the egg roll and soup of the day and includes a drink.

I chose the corn cake and coconut soup along with Pad See Ew and my hubby got the Basil.  Everything was very good, except we  My hubby said that his dish could have jawed a little more sauce and I agreed.

I really enjoy the thai coconut soup.  It’s creamy with chunks of white meat chicken and has a tangy flavor.

The portions were great for lunch and the lunch sets were a great value.

The restaurants is casual enough to bring the whole family, but cozy enough for a date-night.  Nice to have a good Thai restaurant on this side of town since the my other go-to Thai places on the West side are down the road a few miles in WDM (Cool Basil and King & I) .

I also left with a warm-fuzzy feeling after reading my fortune——–>

Della Dolce Bakery

Today’s guest post is by my friend Christie who knows a good cookie when she tastes one!  Check out her experience at this brand new bakery and make plans to attend the Grand Opening for some samples!

Today’s guest post is by my friend Christie who knows a good cookie when she tastes one!  Check out her experience at this brand new bakery and make plans to attend the Grand Opening for some samples!

I had the chance to be one of the first customers at Della Dolce Bakery on their opening day yesterday!

This is the most beautiful bakery I’ve ever been in.  No surface was left untouched when turning this space into a cozy bakery.
Stop in the morning for a cup of tea or coffee and a scone, cinnamon roll, caramel roll, quiche, or turnover.  By afternoon they have dessert favorites such as cookies, cupcakes, pies, and tarts.  I had one of the chocolate chip cookies and it was DELICIOUS.  Crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.
Owner, Catherine, also makes wedding cakes and caters other beautiful desserts for events.
Catherine is hosting her Grand Opening Ceremony on Saturday, November 2 from 5-8pm with the ribbon cutting at 6pm.  She will have light appetizers and samples sizes of menu items for everyone to try.
You can find Della Dolce Bakery at 13435, Suite 300 University Ave, Clive  IA 50325.  Phone: 515-330-2848.  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DellaDulceBakery

The Club Car

It’s been a while since we visited The Club Car in Clive.  I saw that they revamped their gluten-free menu and I had to try it out.  I brought my gluten-free mom and anything-eating husband along too for lunch last week.

The restaurant is cozy and inviting and the staff was really friendly.  The gluten-free menu was really impressive.  They have everything on the gf menu from boursin stuffed mushrooms to

spinach and artichoke dip and entrees from steak and shrimp scampi to macaroni and cheese.  Yum.  You can view the gluten-free menu here.

The regular menu is also nicely varied with a selections of pastas, salads, steaks, etc.  You can view the regular lunch and dinner menu here.

My mom got a nice steak salad.  The hubby ordered the Black and Bleu flat bread pizza which he enjoyed. And the highlight of the meal was my mac & cheese with bacon and peas.  This was quite heavy but comfort food at its finest.  Perfectly cooked gluten-free pasta and the flavor pops of the peas made this dish really good.

They also have 1/2 prices appetizers during happy hour at 3pm on Monday thru Friday, kids eat free Mondays and Tuesdays and a lunch club where they give you a punch card and after you’ve purchased 5 lunches you get one free.

The Club Car is a great lunch spot for a business lunch, but casual enough for families.  Go there for American favorites and cozy atmosphere.  We appreciate their attention to special diets and would highly recommend giving them a shot.

 

Granite City Brunch

There are a lot of great places for buffet brunch in Des Moines.  Some of my faves areThe Machine Shed, Americana and Hy-vee Grille at the new Waukee and Urbandale locations. I also just can’t keep myself away from the Sunday Brunch buffet at Granite City.  It is just so awesome.

I have dreams about the reggiano hash browns.  Seriously, dreams.  I’m a sucker for a cheesy-potato dish, but these take the cake.  I can’t even explain the sophisticated, sharpness of this flavor, you must try them yourself.

Ok, enough about the potatoes, the rest of the buffet is good too.  They offer an omelet station, prime rib station, fruit, eggs, waffles, great quality sausage links and thick cut slices of bacon.  They also have a lunch dish available on the buffet as well like a pasta or rice dish.  An all around great buffet.

 

And don’t forget about the impressive cinnamon rolls.  Always hot, fresh and addictive.

I don’t always love buffets for brunch, but everything they serve is great on this one.  It is definitely one of the more pricey in town at about $16 per person. Kids are a reduced price, but definitely a trip for a special occasion.  It does get pretty busy when folks get out of church.  We waited for a bout 45 minutes on out latest visit.  But the earlier you arrive the better.

They offer an all-you-can-drink mimosa or bloody mary special during the brunch as well and you can of course order off of the regular menu, but why would you want to?!  Just kidding, their regular menu of sandwiches, pizza, pastas, etc. is very good and a great option for lunch or dinner.  I just love the buffet!!

 

Eat, Play, Love Des Moines Night @ 515 Brewery

We were SO excited to host our first free public event on Friday, July 26th at 515 Brewery in Clive.  Thanks to all of you who came and made it awesome!

It was a beautiful night and we had a fantastic turnout with upwards of 200 people that came out!  It was so busy we lost track!

 
We gave away lots of mail openers =)  We raffled off (in our free raffle) tons of t-shirts, food items from local restaurants, Tastefully Simple products, ICubs tickets and more.  Over 50 prizes!!

 

 

 

Local Yocals was there serving up his fantastic farm burgers made with all local ingredients along with Iowa sweet corn and Iowa fries.  After keeping him busy cooking for 3 hours, he sold out!

Tamales Industry was also there selling their famous delicious tamales, they too sold out after a few hours!  If you want more, you can visit their restaurant on 2nd Ave in Des Moines!

Rogue Sweets made chocolate chai cupcakes with 515’s own Numb Nuts beer and caramel apple cupcakes from Sutliff Cider (also available at 515).  They were awesome!  Everyone enjoyed them!

Dishcrawl Des Moines brought their bacon photo booth to get everyone excited for the Bacon Battle event that was to he held the following Sunday. Fun!

We deemed the event a success and we hope you did too!  We hope you had a great time and are looking forward to the next event as much as we are!  Next time I will totally find a microphone so we don’t have to find you individually in a crowd of 200!

We are open to suggestions to make our events even better! And if you own a local business and you’d like us to host an event (big or small), just shoot us an email @ EatplayloveDSM@aol.com and we’ll see if we can set something up!

Our next event will be August 9th, 2013 at Sully’s Irish Pub in West Des Moines.  Look for details to follow and hope to see you there!