• Sausage Pizza

Project: PIZZA!

Last summer a friend of mine, who recently moved to town (Des Moines), asked me where to get pizza in town. I didn’t know what to tell him. I knew there was good pizza in Des Moines, but I wasn’t really sure where. After thinking about it a bit, I decided it was time for me to do an extensive review of all the pizza restaurants in town.

Here’s the plan I came up with including the rules and the grading criteria.

Project: PIZZA!

The general plan is this: each weekend I will visit one of these places (there are about 40, so it will take 9 months or so). Anyone who wants to come along can. Ultimately, I will be responsible for the grading and review, but if you go with I’ll listen to your opinion.

To provide a baseline, we’ll order sausage pizza at each place (I love sausage and it’s standard). We’ll also attempt to try out specialties each place offers if they have any.


  • Only local, independant places would be considered. We’ve got an Old Chicago. It’s good. It’s not Des Moines.
  • Everyone gets a fair shot. There are a number of places we will visit that don’t get me very excited. We’ll give them a chance though. Sometimes those places are the best.
  • In the grading, we’re focusing primarily on the pizza. While we consider service, you’ll see with the grading rubric, the major focus is on the actual pizza.

Grading Rubric

The following is the grading rubric. You’ll notice that service and atmosphere get a combined total of 10 points. The scale is heavily weighted to focus on the actual pizza and less on the (still important) environment.

Criteria Points Possible
Crust 10
Sauce 10
Toppings 10
Overall 10
Service 5
Atmosphere 5

Hit List

Here is the list of places we’re going to visit. This will take us most of a year, so the list could change slightly if any place closes or any new ones open.

  • Angelo’s Pizza (West Des Moines)
  • Baratta’s (Des Moines, Indianola Hills)
  • Beaverdale Pizza (Des Moines, Beaverdale)
  • Bianchi Boys Pizza (Altoona)
  • Big Tomato Pizza (Des Moines, Ingersoll)
  • Bordenaro’s Pizza & Pasta (Des Moines, Somerset)
  • Centro (Des Moines, Western Gateway)
  • Chuck’s Restaurant (Des Moines, Highland Park)
  • Coach’s Pizza (West Des Moines, West Glen)
  • Corigliano’s Pizza (Des Moines, Indianola Hills)
  • Encore Pizza Co (Johnston)
  • Felix & Oscar’s (Urbandale)
  • Fia’s Pizzaria (Des Moines, Somerset)
  • Fong’s Pizza (Des Moines, Downtown)
  • Gusto (Des Moines, Ingersoll)
  • Hilltop Lounge (Des Moines, Accent)
  • J. Benjamin’s (Des Moines, Merle Hay)
  • La Pizza House (Des Moines, Indianola Hills)
  • Leaning Town of Pizza (Ankeny)
  • Michael’s Pizza (Des Moines, Beaverdale)
  • NYC Pizza Cafe (West Des Moines)
  • Orlondo’s on Park (Des Moines, South)
  • Paesano’s (Des Moines, South)
  • Pagliai’s Pizza (Johnston)
  • Papa Georgioz (Colfax)
  • Paradise Pizza (West Des Moines)
  • Rock Power Pizza (Des Moines, South)
  • Sam & Louie’s (Urbandale)
  • Scornavacca’s Pizza (Des Moines, Highland Park)
  • The Tavern (West Des Moines, Valley Junction)
  • Wig and Pen (Ankeny)


If you have any comments, places we’re missing, or other things to add, feel free to do so in the comments. We’re hoping this provides to be an actual helpful reference for people in the Des Moines area.

March 1, 2012


Have you thought about considering red rosa? They have four locations in the Midwest http://www.redrossa.com/mobile/locations.php but then again at least pagliais and wig and pen are also in other cities.

Posted by Ryan hanks at NaN:pm, NaN, .

@rynomite, I considered Red Rossa, but I had disqualified it thinking it was a chain. I think Pagliais is a local place with a second location. I dont know anything really about Wig and Pens. Ill have to look into it

Posted by Andrew at NaN:pm, NaN, .

Sounds like fun! I believe Wig & Pen has an Iowa City location. Have you thought of adding Great Plains in Ames? Its a bit of a drive, but many people rave about it.

Posted by Joel Jernstad at NaN:pm, NaN, .

@Joel, My uncle friggin owns that place. Ive thought about going there, but that would be central Iowa, not Des Moines area. :( I might remove the place in Colfax for the same reason.

Posted by Andrew at NaN:pm, NaN, .

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