Pasta Al Forno now serving authentic Italian cuisine in Ames

A new authentic Italian eatery has opened on the east side of Ames. 

Pasta Al Forno, located on 13th Street in the same building as Quality Inn & Suites, opened for the first time in April.

After enjoying success over the past 10 years at their sister location, Pasta Bella in Mason City, owners Visar Kelmendi, Valdet Kelmendi, and Aron Dreshaj were excited to open a similar experience in Story County. According to Pasta Al Forno General Manager Morgan Schlichting, the crew thought Ames would be an excellent expansion opportunity for the team, given the diversity of the population and the prime location of the facility. “This is a really good area to bring our cuisine,” she stated. “There are not a lot of Italian places in town.

“We’ve had so many praises and compliments [about Pasta Bella] over the years, so we thought it was about time we open a secondary location in Ames.”

The Kelmendis are originally from Albania, very close to the Italian border. The pair have been in the restaurant industry for the past 20 years. 

Schlichting, who formerly worked at the Mason City location, told StoryCounty.News that popular menu items at the new store include the pasta combo, which samples five varieties of pasta, mahi mahi venedeto, and the seafood combo.

Pasta Al Forno also has “hundreds of special dishes,” according to Schlichting. Lunch and dinner specials are served on a rotation and can be viewed below or on Pasta Al Forno’s Facebook page.

The extensive menu features a variety of authentic Italian dishes. Classics include lasagna, ravioli, and fettuccine alfredo. The restaurant also serves fish filet, shrimp, salmon, lobster ravioli, chicken parmigiana, chicken marsala, sausage arrabiata, and steaks.

“All ingredients are kept on hand, fresh and ready to go,” Schlichting continued. “We also try to be flexible with special requests.” At times, a previously featured menu item may be requested. For example, Schlichting noted that just last week, one guest loved the salmon primavera so much that he asked for it again. “The kitchen was able to make it for him,” she said. “We try to be lenient about that.”

Pasta Al Forno also serves fresh bread, made every day in-house. Schlichting says the smell of the homemade bread is “the best smell in the morning” and that people are “raving about it,” often asking for more than one basket at their table.

Dessert items at Pasta Al Forno include authentic cannolis, along with several other Italian delicacies. “We’ve heard nothing but good things about our tiramisu,” Schlichting explained. “We’ve also been hearing a lot about the Italian cream cake…how rich it is, how good it is.” Gluten free items are also available. 

Pasta Al Forno is conveniently located at 2601 East 13th Street in Ames near Interstate 35. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. You can also place orders over the phone by calling 515-337-1422.

The restaurant is still hiring front house positions, servers, bartenders, and hosts. To apply, visit the store in person or call 515-337-1422.

 “We are so thankful for the support we’ve gotten already and are so excited to welcome more people in to try our authentic Italian cuisine,” Schlichting concluded. “I promise you will not be disappointed.”

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