Ames — oh the memories. Having gone to Iowa State, I’m quite familiar with the restaurants there in Ames, particularly the pizza places. Ames is a unique town, where nearly half of it’s 58,000 residents are college students bringing the median age down to a ripe 23.8 years (thanks Wiki for confirming my suspicions). The restaurant business is built around demand, and in Ames the demand is high for pizza places, particularly cheap ones. The cheap ones come and go… gone are Gumby’s and Home Team pizza, but still kicking are Pizza Pit and Jeff’s. Sure, there’s Great Plains and Black Market among others, but them are upscale using Oatmeal and Deep Dish trickeries, respectively. Falling into that later category is Vesuvius, named apropo, where Napoli styled pizza is served. For those unfamiliar, Vesuvius hearkens to Mount Vesuvius, that land formation created by the evil volcano that wiped out Pompeii. But in it’s wake of destruction it left fertile volcanic soils that are known for growing some of the finest tomatoes, and that region of Italy is also known for crafting some of the world’s finest pies.
Enter Vesuvius in Ames. This place has been alive and kicking for several years now, and thankfully it still leaves my chewy and charred cravings satisfied. The biggest legitimate complaint I’ve been able to gather about Vesuvius is the price. At around $10 per individual pie, it’s spendy in comparison with other options. The other complaint I’ve detected is actually quite a complement — it’s not “cheap pizza”, something that is so ingrained in our way of living, that it’s near sacrilege to suggest that we might go beyond fancy toppings of pinneapple and actually consider something so baneful as…arugula…shudder…prosciutto…dear God, the thought.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again until someone finally hears me…Ames is probably the toughest town when it comes to opening a restaurant and being successful. I’ve seen many open and close throughout the years. It’d been at least a year since I had last dined, and so I was happy to see they they’d recently done some improvements to their already nice location.
The star of their pizza is still the crust, done perfectly, it’s right on par with Centro in Des Moines — but better, because unlike any other pizza I’ve had they do one thing truly unique and that is sprinkle salt all along the edge of the dough, making that finishing bite all the more delectable and intoxicating, and inviting you to grab another slice.
If you’ve never tried Vesuvius, it’s worth your time, dollars, consideration, fill in the blank. If you live in Ames and don’t yet know it, let me tell you how incredibly fortunate you are to have such a fine pizza place in your back yard. I’ve eaten pizza all over the country and can say Vesuvius is among the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience.