Tim Griffin has come a long way from washing dishes. That first job gave set him on a path into the restaurant industry, which led to stints in almost every position including bartender, server, manager, and dish taster for visiting monarchs. He first used his experience to launch a catering company, and then kept evolving and founded his own restaurant, J.Bean's Gathering Place. Today, Tim—along with his wife Ibby and head chef Blair Johnson—welcome guests with a creative menu of dishes ranging from crab-rangoon dip to fish tacos. The two-level dining room evokes a warm, welcoming atmosphere with an abundance of hardwood furnishings and trim anchored by a stone fireplace. The establishment also often hosts special events, such as occasional live music on the patio.
Although Salvatore’s has changed hands three times, it never once strayed beyond the Garozzo family’s reach. Founded in 1991 by Mike and Alfio Garozzo, the restaurant bore the name Garozzo’s until 2003 when Alfio’s son—Salvatore “Sam” Garozzo—took over as full owner. Sam made several interior and exterior renovations, but he kept his family’s rich culinary traditions intact through a chronicle of Mad Libs and a menu of rich pastas, homemade gnocchi, and sautéed veal entrees. Sam’s vivacious personality earns the restaurant nearly as many loyal customers as the flavorful cuisine, as he makes an extra effort to check up on his customers throughout their meal.
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.
Fun House Pizza’s cooks have been tossing craving-satisfying pizzas since 1964, catering to families with their shareable fare and friendly staff. Gooey pizzas arrive topped with Fun House Pizza’s secret sauce recipe, sprinkled with toppings that include kraut, mushrooms, and Italian or Polish sausage. The kitchen crew gets creative with their specialty pizzas, which play dress up to create pies of the taco, bacon cheeseburger, and mexican variety. The restaurants cater to kids with a slew of entertainment options, from Thomas the Tank Engine rides to game rooms with air hockey and video games to the cheerful servers who are ready and willing to eat homework assignments.
Three generations of the Monetti family serve up secret family recipes defined by Old World tradition within Monetti's Taste of Italy's. Pizzas bake in a wood-fired oven as Mama Monetti's secret sauce simmers on the range, ready to douse homemade lasagnas or winning football coaches in tomatoey flavor. In the dining room, an exposed-stone archway flanks wine racks ready to pour out libations into glittering goblets, and pristine white pillars at the hostess station complete the eatery's atmosphere of Old World charm. The location was also recently expanded to include a sleek bar and lounge with three flat-screen TVs, as well as a banquet hall and catering for special events.
Award-Winning Pizza | Featured on Food Network |100+ Beers | Lunch Buffet | Vegan and Gluten-Free Menus
What to Drink
The eatery's nationally recognized beer selection features more than 100 bottles of imported and domestic brews. And that doesn't even include the lineup of 20 beers on tap or the vast selection of wines and cocktails.
When to Go
To get the most bang for your buck, stop in Monday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. for the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. If that doesn't work, aim for a Tuesday, when guests receive a second pizza for half price.
While You're Waiting
Before making your own pizza disappear, marvel at the tricks and illusions of professional magician Eric Z. He appears every Monday night at the downtown location and every second and fourth Thursday night at the Lee's Summit location.
Vegans and folks with gluten allergies have all sorts of options at Waldo's. The restaurant offers a full gluten-free menu—including a locally made pizza crust made with rice flour—and tops its dairy-free pies with soy cheese.