By Design presents dsmDining —
Centro chef George Formaro learned to make Rigatoni alla Norma from his mother, Gina Formaro.


By Wini Moranville

Restaurant Week starts this Friday, Aug. 18, and runs until Aug. 27, with nearly 40 local restaurants participating. This year, $28 brings you two lunches or one three-course dinner. Check out the menus here. I've personally bookmarked these three restaurants for this food-filled week:

• Centro: This year's menu pays homage to long-standing south-side families whose forebears immigrated from Italy. Look for favorite family recipes passed down through the generations, such as Noah Lacona's favorite pasta (with rigatoni, boiled egg, garlic, parsley butter and Parmesan) and pepper steak from Ralph Campiano (of the former Rocky's Steak House). (1003 Locust St.; 515-248-1780;

• Proof: Hats off to Sean Wilson and team for offering plenty of great options in each course (choose from three starters, four entrees and three desserts), all of which admirably showcase the layered and refined food found here. Look for a fascinating combo of global inspiration crossed with Southern touches—smoked tomato gazpacho with succotash, anyone? I personally have my eye on Dijon-crusted pork with chimichurri-coated sea island peas, in a dish that's finished with tarragon and cilantro dust. (Wilson is known for doing amazing things with herbs and spices.) (1301 Locust St., Suite C; 515-244-0655;

• Harbinger: If you haven't yet been to Harbinger, Restaurant Week looks like a great chance to find out what chef Joe Tripp's Southeast Asian-inspired Midwestern farm-to-table small plates are all about. The menu comprises four plates, starting with an heirloom tomato salad, moving on to Japanese eggplant with Sichuan glaze, and then a round of pork belly (braised Chinese style). Summer peaches star in the one-of-a-kind dessert. (2724 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-244-1314;

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Art Center

Yun Shin’s subtle works on paper are created with repeated tracings of shapes, employing carbon paper, pin points, or oil paint stains.


The meticulous work of a South Korean artist who teaches at Northwestern College in Orange City will be featured in a solo exhibit at the Des Moines Art Center. "Iowa Artists 2017: Yun Shin" opens Aug. 25 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m., with remarks by the artist at 6 p.m. The Art Center recommends making a reservation to attend the opening; you can do that here.

Yun Shin's subtle works on paper are created using repeated tracings of the same shapes, employing carbon paper, pin points or oil paint stains. The simple grid-like forms and monotone colors lend the work a sense of minimalism, but the personal nature of her patterns—created by repeatedly copying the calligraphy of her father’s signature or patterns of her mother’s knit work—infuse the drawings with a personal tone amplified by the time-consuming nature of her process.

“Through recreating the objects based on my own personal interpretation, I start to understand the intense process of working alone in contemplation," she says. "The more I personalize my family’s possessions, the more I am able to see myself in them.”

The exhibit continues through Dec. 3.

Project in Progress: Adding Life to an Aging Home
This stately 1935 Federal-style home needed some cosmetic updates to the exterior brick and woodwork. A new carport will accommodate a second car, and a more inviting walkway and porch is underway. We’ll maintain the home’s historic charm while improving curb appeal! ... Read more »

Clean Up
Wild parsnip isn't a native plant, but it's common in Iowa woodlands. It may be pretty, but it's an invasive species with toxic oils.


Everyone wants to make the world a little better these days. One way you can make a difference is to participate in a cleanup project around Gray's Lake this Thursday, Aug. 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The project involves removing invasive plants from the woodlands around the lakeplants that will be "upcycled" into food for animals at the Blank Park Zoo.

Volunteers (ages 14 and older) will meet at the southeast parking lot at Gray's Lake. Recommended: a water bottle, sturdy shoes that can get muddy, plus a hat, gloves and sunscreen.

This is the last in a summerlong series of monthly projects conducted by UpCycle Stewards, a joint effort of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines Parks and Recreation and Trees Forever. Questions? Contact Joe Jayjack: or 515-288-1846, ext. 19.

Global Greens Farm
Explore Global Greens Farm and learn about its mission at two upcoming events.


Global Greens Farm in West Des Moines, where world refugees grow produce as they explore their new life in Iowa, is hosting a free Farm Field Day this Thursday, Aug. 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Valley Community Center, 4444 Fuller Road. You'll get a tour of the farm, an explanation of the program and an opportunity to join these newest neighbors in a potluck meal. Diners are encouraged to bring a dish to share and to try fresh vegetables grown by the farmers. For more information or to register, click here.

The farm is a program of Lutheran Services in Iowa, which offers a variety of services for refugees and immigrants. Plan to join LSI at its annual Empower Luncheon Sept. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. It will include inspiring stories and a celebration of those who have come to Iowa from war-torn and drought-ravaged homelands. "We want to celebrate the accomplishments of our new citizens and to communicate to newcomers that they are welcome," says Nicholas Wuertz, LSI's director of refugee services. Get tickets ($65) and more information here. To meet some of these inspiring individuals, check out this photo project.

Gregory Alan Isakov
Nightfall on the River rolls through August with performers such as singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov.


Singer-songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov and the band Blind Pilots will perform at the Simon Estes Amphitheater downtown Aug. 21. The show is part of the popular Nightfall on the River series, which includes Gov’t Mule this Thursday, Aug. 17, and Michael Franti on Sunday, Aug. 20. Click here for a complete list of performances and ticket information.

Isakov, a native of South Africa, lives in Colorado, where he recorded his most recent album with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. His music echoes the influence Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Joe Phelps and Leonard Cohen.
You can see him in advance on Youtube videos here.

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