Restaurant Review: La Chiesa in Spencer, IA

So on our roundabout trip through Okoboji, Spencer and Wall Lake, Iowa my mother wielded her iPhone and took on the challenge of finding us a great place to eat.  (Click here to read the details of our trip which features a stop at the Grotto of the Redemption).

THE FACTS
La Chiesa (Italian for “the church”) is an Italian restaurant housed on the top floor of the 113 year-old St. Stephens Episcopal church in Spencer, Iowa.   La Chiesa is owned a by Chef Jeremy Neppl and his wife Trisha.  Both have extensive culinary training and experience.  They opened La Chiesa in December 2009 and focus on seasonal fresh prepared Italian specialties.

On arrival it is striking to see the church with the stone and stained glass windows.  The restaurant is on the second floor and there are quite a few stairs with a stair lift chair for those who need or want a ride.  In walking to our table it has an open feel with vaulted ceilings, booths, tables and seating areas.  The bar area is very nice though we were able to get a table right away so did not spend time in the bar.

As we settled in it was clear this was a hot spot with locals as most of the tables around us were filled.  There were large parties and tables of two.  There is a seating area on a patio and people were enjoying eating outside the day we were there.  The tables were covered with white linens and gave a feel of being on the upper end of the scale.  The crowd was made up of typical Midwesterners and all were comfortably dressed.

Our server was very attentive and welcomed us as newcomers to the restaurant.  She led us through the wine list and fulfilled my daughters request for raspberry lemonade.  She guided us expertly through the menu and had a willingness to share her thoughts on various dishes as well as those that were among her favorites.

The menu was varied and had a great selection of unique dishes.  They do not have anything on the menu that is aimed directly for children but there are things on the menu that most children would like such as basic pizza and pasta.

We settled into our plan and each ordered something different so we could sample a variety of dishes.  We ordered…….

  • Eggplant Ravioli which is a spicy eggplant stuffed pasta tossed with tomatoes confit
  • Spaghetti and Housemade Meatballs with marinara and parmesan
  • Mint fettucine with lamb Bolognese and a light white sauce.

There are two salad options that come with the meal so we ordered both. One was a mixed greens salad with sweet corn and pecorino cheese topped with a citrus vinaigrette with the other being a traditional Caesar salad with homemade garlic croutons.

Before the meal our waitress brought warm bread with a pureed garlic northern white bean spread.  We enjoyed our bread and drinks while taking in the view of the Little Sioux River.

THE FAVS
The service was very good!  She was attentive and remained so throughout the meal.  Her willingness to review the menu and provide insight into the dishes is always nice when you are going to a restaurant for the first time.

The spread for the bread was very unique.  I loved the spread for the bread as it was a nice shake up from the traditional butter or dipping oil.  I want to share however that my daughter did not care for the bread spread (but we can perhaps shake that off as coming from an unsophisticated palate).

Of the salads the favorite was the mixed greens salad with citrus vinaigrette.  That being said we lloovveedd the homemade croutons from the Caesar salad.  And when I say loved I mean loved.  When you eat something and after every bite you purr out “uuummm” you are loving it.

The favorite dish was the eggplant ravioli!  Again purr uuumm.

Sorry we did not order dessert this time so cannot provide a review of desserts.

Our bill came to $76.02.  There was quite a bit of food left over.

SUMMARY
Unique location, nice atmosphere, comfortable crowd, excellent service, good variety of wine, unique spread for the bread, standout salad, great main dish, reasonably priced if  you pass on the wine.  I would go back again and would really enjoy taking someone along who likes Italian and has never been there before.  It is worth a drive.

Their website showcases the menus, a facebook link and an email subscriber signup that they use to send out notices of upcoming specials.  Remember that they focus on seasonal dishes so it is possible the items we reviewed may no longer be on the menu.

La Chiesa
24 West Park Street
Spencer, IA 51301
Phone:  712-580-4520
Hours:  Tuesday – Thursday …. 11:00 A.M – 9:00 P.M.
Friday – Saturday …….. 11:00 A.M – 10:00 P.M.
Sunday and Monday …. Closed.
http://www.lachiesarestaurant.com

Check out our Recipes from Kristina’s House including Peanut Butter Cookies, Skinny Macs (lite Big Mac), Easy Chicken Marsala to name a few…..
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La Chiesa on Urbanspoon

 

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