New restaurant brings authentic Italian flair to Ames


Richard Martinez/Iowa State Daily

Plus 39, a new Italian-inspired restaurant on Stange Road, features Italian-inspired cuisine, a wine sampling lounge and mini marketplace.

David Gerhold

Bringing the true flair of Italy to the citizens of Ames — that is the goal that owner Alessandro Andreoni has for his new Italian restaurant called Plus39 that opened Saturday, Nov. 30, on Stange Road in Somerset in Ames. 

“Everything we offer here is 100 percent Italian. Nothing is Americanized or pre-cooked,” Andreoni said. “We make everything ourselves on the spot.”

Plus39 combines the concept of a restaurant with a cantina and a market. Customers can have breakfast, lunch and dinner there as well as buying Italian specialties.

“Our lunch menu alone is larger than what most restaurants offer altogether,” Andreoni said. “We have more than 150 different kinds of wine and the quality of our cuisine and our services is top.”

For Andreoni, the opening of his own restaurant in America is the fulfillment of a dream he’s had since he was a child. His family has had a long tradition of making handmade food in Italy.

“I wanted to bring that authenticity to Ames and offer a different experience,” Andreoni said. “Especially, since the concept of a restaurant in Italy largely differs from restaurants here.”

In America, Andreoni said, people are always in a hurry and want to eat and leave as fast as possible. People in Europe, on the other hand, tend to stay two or three hours in a restaurant and talk to each other, which makes dining more of an experience.

“Good food takes its time,” Andreoni said. “Other restaurants may operate faster, but we make the best food possible.”

He said he always goes around and talks to his customers explaining how his business works and giving out recommendations.

“I want my customers to leave with a smile,” Andreoni said.

Andreoni said he was largely inspired by the animated movie “Ratatouille,” which he said he has watched 22 times so far.

“I love the passion and joy you can see in that movie. That’s what I want for my restaurant,” Andreoni said. “I want to create an explosion in the mouths of my customers.”

Plus39 has a strong connection to Iowa State, said Michael Orman, general manager of the restaurant.

“The university is so diverse and filled with people who want to know more about international culture, so we tried to make the prices for our food as affordable as possible for them,” Orman said.

Orman said the majority of the staff consists of ISU alumni, who graduated from hospitality management.

“Our chef studied hotel restaurant management at ISU for two years,” Orman said.

Scott Demro, ISU alumnus, works as a server at Plus39. He said he was looking for work when a friend suggested the new Italian restaurant.

“I walked in and immediately fell in love with the place,” Demro said. “I’ve been here every day since the opening. The atmosphere is simply one of a kind.”

Andreoni said he encourages students to meet at Plus39 whenever they want.

“You can come here with your club or your study group and set up meetings, or just come here to learn while enjoying one of our Italian sandwiches,” Andreoni said. 

For Andreoni, the opening of the restaurant has been very successful with up to 500 customers per day.

“It’s great to see my dream become reality in front of my eyes,” Andreoni said. 

Andreoni said he has big plans for Plus39 in the future.

“I want the restaurant to establish in Ames, and after that, maybe open more restaurants all over Iowa,” Andreoni said.