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Tucked inside Harrah's North Kansas City Casino, Mike Garozzo & Charlie Gitto's Italian Restaurant entices taste buds with a menu of authentic Italian dishes served in a dimly lit dining room with exposed brick. Napkins can clock in for appetizer shifts, where they labor to protect laps from toasted-ravioli crumbs ($8.95) or drips of pesto from the flash-fried mozzarella milanese ($6.95). Plates of signature chicken spiedini land on the eatery's white tablecloths buddied up with a choice of cargo, such as amogio sauce ($16.95), spicy diablo sauce ($17.95), crushed tomato sauce and angel-hair pasta ($17.95), or alfredo sauce and arthichoke hearts ($18.95). Guests can reward their jaws for dutiful service or learning to crack through whole coconuts by shoveling in chicken parmesan with fontina cheese ($16.95) or six sheets of homemade lasagna ($15.95).
After a career of playing professional baseball, Bill Kelso hung up his jersey, tied on his apron, and started the original Kelso’s Pizza in 1969. Located near William Jewell College, the pizzeria quickly became a favorite haunt of the Chiefs players while they attended training camp. Despite relocating the restaurant, the current owners, Jeff and Kelly, still honor their father’s storied sports legacy; vintage photographs, jerseys, and generations of family trophies line the dining room’s walls while six flat-screen televisions play live sports broadcasts or chat with each other about their fantasy baseball teams.
Kelso’s Pizza strives to be more than a sports bar, though. Instead, the family emphasizes serving pizzeria staples in a family-friendly environment. The menu brims with baseball-themed names, like the Grand Slam pizza with eight hearty toppings—including sausage, mushrooms, and julienned stat sheets—and a host of toasted sandwiches, such as the Pennant Winner, a roast beef delight oozing with melted provolone and Kelso’s buttermilk dressing.
In 1963, Vita and Jay Totta opened up their cozy café with a small counter, three tables, and four booths. Within three years, the couple’s following of loyal diners had overgrown their modest space, and they expanded to a larger location with more than twice the seating capacity of the original café. Another steady increase in popularity led the Tottas to create V's Italiano Ristorante as it stands today, which includes a spacious dining room, three private banquet rooms, a lounge, and an outdoor patio. When designing and building the restaurant in 1971, Jay—a professional architect—focused on creating an Old-World atmosphere where guests could enjoy everything from Sunday brunch to romantic candlelight dinners with their tax auditors. Patrons may also venture out to the restaurant's garden patio, where they'll eat by a stone waterfall and under the vines of a grape arbor originally planted by Vita's father.
CheeZies Pizza's dexterous culinary artists festoon fresh, floured canvases with brush strokes of tomato sauce and sprinkles of tantalizing toppings. Transport tongue tenants across the border with bites of the taco pizza, bearing spicy hunks of beef, black olives, and jalapeños on request ($8.99). A deluxe pie lounges under a sultry deluge of pepperoni, green pepper, and mushrooms ($8.99), and a tropical delight ($8.99) dons a multiflavored lei of savory Canadian bacon and sweet pineapple. Piles of barbecue wings ($5.99/8 wings) provide finger-licking substitutes to spherical eats, and hefty calzones ($8.99) volunteer portly packages of meat and cheese to tackle large appetites or fill in for vacationing boat anchors.
The chefs at CJ's Chicago Pizzeria ladle sauce and sprinkle italian cheeses onto homemade dough with a Chicago-inspired pizza menu. The deep-dish stuffed pizza’s golden crust (14", $17) conceals strands of melted cheese within its crispy, parrot-free treasure chest. Add pepperoni, cream cheese, or fresh garlic ($2 per topping) to family-sized thin-crust cheese pizzas ($17) or dress up hand-tossed thick-crust cheese pizzas ($18) with veggies. The preadorned tops of CJ's specialty pizzas, such as the JFK flanked by pepperoni, sausage, hamburger, and canadian bacon ($14.50 for a regular), erect taste monuments more awe inducing than a marinara-doused Stonehenge.
Within a welcoming space accented with landscape murals and Roman busts, the friendly staff of Anthony's Restaurant & Lounge serves up classic Italian cuisine. Chefs tenderize, slice, and roll steak to create Bruzzaluni, insulating each protein-rich sleeping bag with a romano-cheese stuffing ($17.95). Traditional dinner entrees, including lasagna ($14.95) and fettuccine alfredo with peas and mushrooms ($13.95), encompass noodles and an abundance of sauce.