If you love Italian food you're in good company. We've done the leg work so that you can easily locate the best places available for top quality Italian cuisine in Kansas City. We've diligently scouted out the top eateries, and we've listened to our readers and their reviews of Kansas City restaurants. We share the places that have received great buzz and we showcase the restaurants that have consistently proven themselves over time. We've located bright and bustling neighborhood joints as well as sleek and sexy restaurants where Sinatra would fit right in. From lunch and dinner to dynamite happy hour pricing or magnificent weekend brunches, there's no shortage of quality Italian fare in this city. There are even a few spots where you can buy authentic Italian ingredients to enjoy at home. We also point out good neighborhoods where you can find Italian restaurants in this metropolitan area - from Kansas City, Missouri to Shawnee, Kansas. When the craving hits, we'll make sure you get your fix!
Find a seat in the dimly lit wooden bar, or sit at a table in the artwork-lined dining room. Carmen's Café offers a comfortable environment with good acoustics, although lighting sometimes makes reading the menu a challenge. The staff is generally knowledgeable and attentive, with many long-time employees. There are plenty of kudos for the food but this restaurant blends Italian cuisine with Latin-inspired dishes. Toasted ravioli, and jumbo scallops with Spanish saffron cream sauce, are favorite starters. A wide array of entrees includes Seafood Diablo, Chicken Lemonnata, Veal Marsala, and gnocchi served with vodka tomato cream sauce, mushrooms and peas. Sweet endings range from spumoni and tiramisu to several versions of cheesecake. (816-333-4048)
Paulo and Bill
It's worth a road trip to Shawnee Mission just to sample the superb Italian fare served at this authentic trattoria. The upscale dining area features dark wood beams, recessed lighting, and Continental-flavored decor. Regulars rave about the appetizers, and no experience is complete without sampling fried calamari with caramelized garlic aioli or grilled scallops. Recommended entrees include fabulous osso buco with roasted fall vegetables; Mona Lisa pasta with Italian sausage, artichokes, and roma tomatoes; and veal parmigiano with fettuccine alfredo. Save room for their delectable dessert offerings. (913-962-9900)
The North End
Newly christened, in recent years, The North End takes a 90-year culinary tradition and infuses it with a new take on old favorites. This is a great place to find rib-sticking Italian appetizers, from Fried Meatballs to Crispy Artichoke Hearts or North End Fries – a tasty combo of seasoned waffle fries smothered in cheese sauce, bacon and jalapanos. There's an expansive menu for pasta lovers too, which includes Lobster Ravioli and Chicken Parmesan accompanied by pasta or eggplant. The North End's sandwiches are also popular. Piled high with capacola, genoa salami and Mortadella, as well as provolone cheese and giardiniera (mixed sliced vegetables), The Trap is a classic Italian meat sandwich. Other favorites include a crisp-tender Homemade Giant Pork Tenderloin sandwich or the Hot Italian Beef "The Don Bosco." Casual surroundings and nice staff make this a pleasant lunch or dinner destination. (816-421-2189)
Cascone's Italian Restaurant
The original Cascone's has served classic Sicilian cuisine for 62 years, in a cozy space with a retro feel. Even when crowded during a weekday lunch hour, seating is quick, and service is typically fast, efficient and friendly. Manicotti Florentine, with veal and spinach, shrimp Alfredo, Jennie Cascone's Canneloni – a delicious combo of ultra-thin pasta paired with creamy ricotta, spicy Italian sausage, sweet tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella – and refreshing lemon drop martinis, are crowd pleasers. Veal lovers will appreciate three tasty options and fish fans will enjoy Norwegian Salmon, which features Cajun honey glaze and a side of Fettuccini Alfredo. Because meals here can sometimes be pricey, the Early Special Menu is a welcome deal that includes choice of entree, bread and butter, soup or salad and spumoni. (816-454-7977)
Fresh pastas and sauces made from scratch, daily, as well as incredible cheesecake, make the original location of this popular deli a fun and flavorful neighborhood gem behind a quaint storefront. The restaurant even appeared on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, with host Guy Fieri swooning over their chicken and prosciutto tortelloni. Other menu favorites include huge slabs of lasagna, sausage and fennel-stuffed ravioli, hot meatball paninis and salads topped with homemade balsamic dressing. Desserts also get rave reviews. There are gluten-free pasta options available, 10 pizza options in three sizes, and a little al fresco dining in the adjacent alley. While customers sometimes complain about service, others give it high praise. (816-753-7662)
Providing Kansas Citians with authentic Italian ingredients, since 2016, there's always a hustle-and-bustle at this Brookside gem. And it can be downright exciting to sit in the midst of this deli-grocery-restaurant-beloved neighborhood gathering spot. Pizza lovers have a dozen great choices, from Diavola – with spicy salami, mozzarella and spicy oil to Quattro Formaggi (four cheese) or Genovese, with pesto, sundried tomato and mozzarella. Melt-in-your mouth Lasagna Bolognese combines tender lasagna noodles with rich and satisfying house-made Bolognese, while light yet flavorful tomato sauce tops many other pasta dishes. Sandwiches arrive piled high, with prosciutto, Genoa salami, capocolla, fresh cheeses and other Italian favorites. (816-444-5041)
Osteria Il Centro
The well-executed homemade northern Italian fare at this Euro-style bistro is reminiscent of an intimate dining experience in Italy. Paired with a terrific Wine Spectator-awarded wine list and a host of Tuscan vintages, the Brookside restaurant is known for its intimate dining room, excellent service and refined atmosphere. Fabulous seafood pasta dishes, Calamari Fritti with basil pesto and roasted red pepper cocktail sauce, and outstanding lamb chops, are several menu highlights. From orange roughy or ravioli to classic veal meatballs served with spaghettini and marinara, or cannelloni with chicken and spinach, it's a big, broad menu. And Chocolate Decadence Cake with vanilla bean gelato is the ultimate sweet ending to a delicious meal. (816-561-2369)
Garozzo's Ristorante Due
Located in Kansas City's historic Columbus Park 'Italian neighborhood,' dining at Garozzo's Ristorante feels like you have returned to the days of Prohibition. Sinatra croons, dark colors create cozy, intimate surroundings and family photos enhance the old-school ambiance. If these walls could only talk! From stuffed artichoke hearts to ultra-rare steak modiga and the signature Garozzo's chicken spiedini, you'll feel like you're dining inside an authentic Italian trattoria. Owner, Michael Garozzo clearly enjoys hob-knobbing with business people who stop in for indulgent lunches and couples taking a quiet break from the daily grind. House specialties include the veal marsala with peppers and mushrooms, or lasagna with sausage and meatballs. Rich and satisfying, this Garozzo's is a local favorite that is well worth a visit. (816-221-2455)
Old Northern Italian recipes, tweaked for Midwestern customers and prepared with exquisite consistency, have characterized the Lidia's Kansas City kitchen since it opened in the sleepy Freight House District, during the late '90s. Now a romantic flagship restaurant in this bustling neighborhood, it's owned by renowned New York City restaurateur, Lidia Bastianich. Also a best-selling cookbook author, Emmy-award-winning television personality, and author of multiple cookbooks, Bastianich visits the restaurant frequently while her longtime local staff oversees daily operations. A focus on local ingredients means the menu changes frequently. But the Pasta Trio is a customer favorite featuring 'bottomless' portions, served tableside. Gnocchi/housemade potato dumplings with braised duck ragu, and Osso Bucco with barley risotto, are several unusual offerings. And most daily specials are priced at less than $25. (816-221-3722)
The Mirabile family continues a Kansas City Italian culinary tradition initiated by their family, in 1954. Known for his boundless passion and energy, Chef Jasper and his staff offer traditional Sicilian dishes coupled with an Old-World vibe and terrific service. Jasper also pushes himself to new culinary heights through his can't miss monthly 'experiences' – think dinner and a show by one of the city's most affable and talented chefs. You'll also find an incredible wine list, locally sourced ingredients, whenever possible, and annual recognition as winners of the prestigious DiRoNA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) award. Whether you order decadent lobster ravioli, scampi alla livornese with wild rice or Jasper's signature cannoli, you'll long remember this dining experience. (816-941-6600)
About Lisa Waterman Gray
Lisa Waterman Gray moved to the Kansas City area 35 years ago and has written professionally for 20+ years. A member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association, she's excited about the recent local explosion of great food and drink.
Childhood moves and living with international students created Lisa's insatiable interest in travel. She has shared her passion with Midwest Living, msn.com, offbeattravel.com, and AAA Midwest Traveler - to name a few.
When Lisa's not on the road or computer, she sells olive oil and balsamic vinegar and makes dynamite desserts. In October 2014 she'll attend Slow Food International's Terre Madre conference, in Turin, Italy.
Read more about Lisa Waterman Gray here.
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