Best Italian Restaurants in Kansas City
Satisfy your Italian cravings at any of these Italian gems.
$$$ | 101 W 22nd Street, Kansas City, MO | lidias-kc.com
Most restaurants don’t get to celebrate their 20th birthday, so it says something that Lidia’s – which opened in September 1998, as the only Midwestern branch of celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich’s culinary empire – is not only surviving, but thriving. Two decades ago, the Northern Italian menu at Lidia’s gave diners a taste of something new; today, this Kansas City mainstay proves that good food never goes out of style.
Best bet: Lidia’s famed pasta trio (an unlimited serving of three different pastas) is the most obvious choice, but if you feel like branching out, try the Croatian-inspired sarme: cabbage rolls filled with beef and pork and braised in sauerkraut and tomato.
$$ | 526 Harrison Street Kansas City, MO | garozzos.com
You can’t talk about Italian food in Kansas City without mentioning Michael Garozzo's empire. In 1989, the St. Louis native opened his first restaurant – bearing his family name – in Columbus Park. Nearly three decades later, the Garozzo’s empire is still going strong. Today, there are two locations: the original Columbus Park restaurant and one in Overland Park (at one point, there were also locations in Lee’s Summit and Olathe).
But it’s not just the years that make Garozzo’s such an iconic Kansas City establishment: It’s those epic portions (calorie-counting is strictly forbidden) and the familial camaraderie you get to experience when you sit down at that soon-to-be-sauce-splattered white tablecloth. And, of course, it’s the chicken spiedini – a Garozzo’s original concoction of skewered chicken breast, rolled in Italian spices and breadcrumbs and grilled, served atop a heaping pile of pasta and baptized in a rich sauce.
Best bet: Once you taste your way through the chicken spiedini options, go for the Sophia Marie veal spiedini: veal rolled with Genoa salami, fontina cheese, pine nuts, tomatoes, red onions and breadcrumbs, grilled and topped with your choice of sauce and sautéed mushrooms.
The North End
$ | 910 E 5th Street, Kansas City, MO | thenorthendkc.com
The North End is a legendary historic Italian neighborhood north of the river, and the North End restaurant fits in so well you might think it’s been around since Kansas City’s “little Italy” popped up. While there’s a long history of food being served out of this cozy, unpretentious tavern, the North End restaurant itself has only been open since 2013 (it was formerly La Sala’s Deli).
Whether you’re here for the friendly, no-nonsense bar staff, the jumbo meatball sandwich or the prime rib dinner, you’re guaranteed to leave happy.
Best bet: The North End muffuletta is a thing of beauty, but if you want something really special, pop in on Saturday nights: The fried chicken dinner here is one of Kansas City’s best-kept secrets.
$$ | 4579 W 119th Street #101, Leawood, KS | northitaliarestaurant.com
There’s something for everyone at North Italia in Leawood, with a menu of greatest hits Italian dishes in a posh setting with rustic farmhouse accents. Phoenix-based Fox Restaurant Concepts is the owner of North Italia, an upscale-casual chain which includes over 20 locations – but the Leawood restaurant never feels impersonal, and the food never disappoints.
Best bet: The Bolognese is one of the house specialties, but the bacon and egg pizza gets us every time (and there’s gluten-free crust, too). Pro tip: Go on Sunday and Wednesday, where select bottles of wine are half-off.
$$ | 6229 Brookside Boulevard Kansas City, MO | kcbellanapoli.com
Since it opened in 2001, we’ve counted on Brookside darling Bella Napoli to satisfy a number of lunch and dinner Italian cravings, from Neapolitan-style pizza to gourmet pastas to deli sandwiches crafted with high quality meats and cheeses imported from Italy.
Best bet: Parks and Rec fans will appreciate a good calzone, and Bella Napoli is one of the few places around that we trust to pull off this essential hand pie-pizza combination.