1905 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
“Iowa is the heartland and I hear farmers and agricultural friends of mine say, ‘We’re feeding the world,” Josh Holderness says.
When Holderness recently opened Gusto Pizza Co. (1905 Ingersoll Ave.) with friends Joe McConville and Tony Lemmo in February of 2011, the Des Moines native knew he wanted to serve food from local farmers.
“[Farms] are a great part of our economy,” Holderness explains. “At the same time, you have the benefit of knowing where your product is from, knowing what’s going into it and knowing that your money’s going back into the local or state economy.”
Holderness admits that cost is an issue. However, with smaller distributors, quality is his main consideration.
“When dealing with locally sourced products, the factors that go into your decision are different,” Holderness says. “Prices are always a concern, but you know that you’re getting a great product. Your focus shifts more to quality than price.”
While Holderness feels good supporting his local economy and forming relationships with Iowa farmers, he says that the main reason he uses local, quality food is that it’s tastier.
“We use Picket Fence cream in our cannoli and the quality is there, it’s just so much better,” Holderness says.
Locally sourced products can be found atop many of Gusto’s signature pizzas. The Il Figaro pizza showcases paper thin slices of La Quercia prosciutto and pairs perfectly with a crisp, citrusy Pale Ale from Hub City Brewery. For a spicier pie, the Spartacus is a deliciously flavorful pizza topped with banana peppers and crumbles of Graziano Brothers Italian sausage.
In the summer, Gusto will open its back patio and Holderness hopes to showcase some Iowa wines along with an array of local produce. Once growing season is in full swing in Iowa, Holderness believes Gusto will serve almost exclusively local produce. Until then, the restaurant sources products from local producers whenever possible.