Maybe the pasta is a bit overcooked ... but it depends on how you define overcooked. Northern Italian style: yeah, Tumea's does overdo it. But as you go further south in Italy, the pasta is cooked longer (my Sicilian relations call it "looser"), because it's a hotter climate. It doesn't dry out as fast that way.
All I know is that this is my favorite Italian place in Iowa. The food is honest and fresh, the Pastachena IS to die for, and it's a local family running it. (Amazes me how some folks who brag about shopping at the farmers' market think nothing of going to a chain place for a meal -- buying local means eating out, too!)
Just like the Italian clubs my folks took me to when I was a kid. Nothing fancy in the packaging, sometimes chaotic, but food you'll remember happily for a long time to come.
plain salad??? its salad for fooks sake!salad! this place is a true gem.,quickly disappearing from the world. Family owned and operated forever and great food and service.
It has to be said, I love Tumea's. It is a family atmosphere, the owner is usually there every night along with one or more of his sons. They aim to please. If there is something wrong with your item they fix it instantly. The service we had recently was exceptional. The food is absolutely fantastic.
The Pastachena is to die for. When asked by an out of town business acquaintance to go to a real Italian restaurant, I took him here. The service is efficient as well. If you can't get past the somewhat dumpy interior, close your eyes and breathe deep when the dish is served. Then enjoy.
I have to admit that I am amazed that A & D liked Tumea & Sons so much. I've read some of their other reviews and I usually really respect their opinion. Hey, here's a thought. Maybe they are right, but to ME, Tumea & Sons is VERY AVERAGE! The salad is not just plain. It is PLAIN!
Their sauce is PLAIN! Pasta was OVER COOKED! Maybe I just ordered the wrong things but I've been there twice and I'm going to have to try a whole lot more restaurants in the Des Moines area before I go back to Tumea & Sons. I have heard that the owners are great people so I wish them the very best but I would not even stand in a SHORT line if I was VERY HUNGRY to eat at Tumea & Sons again!
There is a little treasure just south of the I-Cub stadium in Des Moines called Tumea and Sons Restaurant. Every city in the world should have a place like this in their neighborhood. The place recently received a needed facelift in the form of fresh paint, wallpaper and new upholstery on the booths. The wonderful pictures of the family still adorn the walls along with maps of Italy, but they are more artfully arranged than the past, rather scattered display.
Tumea’s has a large bar area which is also the smoking section for dining. There are generally lots of regulars coming and going at the bar and in the restaurant throughout the evening creating a pleasant, almost familial buzz in the place the moment you walk through the door. The non-smoking area is a combination of booths and tables and chairs that can accommodate an intimate party of two on up to a very large group. The wait staff is cordial, professional and non-intrusive. There is piped in music—Dean Martin, Al Martino and others of that ilk but, like the wait staff, it is not intrusive and does not interfere at all with conversations.
The menu is full of Southern Italian favorites including Brashiole, Italian meat stuffed and rolled, served over pasta and Pastachena, a dish made with mostaccioli, meatballs, and hardboiled egg served casserole style. The usual round up of dishes like Scampi, Fettuccini Alfredo and spaghetti and meatballs also appear on the menu along with a big selection of chicken and veal dishes. Portions are generous but if you think you can squeeze in a little extra, try the onion rings as an appetizer. They are among the best in the city. The calamari is also exceptional—crisp, sweet rings served with a nice aioli type sauce. Salads are not exceptional—iceberg with your choice of dressing; the creamy parmesan is the house special and it is good. Hot homemade rolls are served with all dinners and they are delicious, but eat them while they are still warm for maximum enjoyment.
“A’s” favorites here include Tumea’s fried shrimp, chicken DeBurgo and their spaghetti. The fried shrimp are quite large, dipped in a very light batter and fried to a beautiful crisp finish. The chicken deburgo is a nice alternative to the steak version, which Tumea’s also has on the menu. It is served in a good and garlicky wine sauce that is not so rich that it overwhelms the delicacy of the chicken. Tumea’s spaghetti marinara is just a delight. The steaming mound of pasta is never overcooked and the sauce is a nice rich, fresh tasting tomato version seasoned with just the right amount of Italian spices.
“D” is particularly fond of Tumea’s veal dishes, all of which are well prepared using quality veal—pale white and fork tender. Veal Asparagus is a dish that is created with love balancing the delicate veal scallops with perfectly cooked fresh asparagus in a lemon and wine sauce.
Tumea’s offers desserts including their famous ‘peaches,’ a cream filled cake concoction that does look like a peach. Most of the time dinner is so satisfying, dessert is not a high priority. The casual, laid-back atmosphere at Tumea’s creates a comfortable environment for lunch or dinner and is especially enhanced if papa Joe Tumea happens to be in the restaurant. Always the genial host, he stops at each table to inquire about the meal or share a funny story or two. On a recent trip, “D” ordered Veal Asparagus but the meal delivered was Veal Marsala. The error was called to the attention of the waitress who apologized profusely. She rechecked the order she placed with the kitchen and found she had, indeed, ordered the Asparagus. No matter—the correct dish appeared within minutes, again with apologies. Before “D” took the first bite, the manager appeared, apologized for the error and his meal was on the house. This was a gracious and unexpected gesture in today’s world that appears so often to have little care for customer satisfaction.
If you are in the mood for good southern Italian food in a comfortable, homey atmosphere that doesn’t cost a king’s ransom, head over to Tumea’s.