Wheat State Pizza! has more kinds of pizza than a high school football coach has inspiring halftime speeches. The abundance comes from a rainbow of options diners mix-and-match to create unique combinations, starting with a whole wheat, white, or gluten-free crust topped with homemade sauces in flavors such as traditional red and whipped cream cheese. On that base, diners can construct a masterpiece pie from a palette of more than 30 toppings including standards such as pepperoni and sausage along with gourmet variants sunflower seeds, avocado, and soy cheese. Though diners don't need to assemble their own combination to enjoy a pie, as, like the Christmas list of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, the menue includes 15 types of specialty pizza. Creations such as the chicken carbonara treat mouths to a velvety blend of alfredo sauce, chicken, mushrooms, mozzarella, and bacon atop a hand-tossed or thin crust. Non-pizza options include the Crispy Chicken Salad and philly cheese steak sandwiches with chicken or beef. Diners can end their meals on a sweet note with one of the restaurant's medley of dessert pizzas, which layer wheat crust with saccharine toppings such as cream-cheese frosting, and apple pie filling.
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.
As the head chefs and owners of The Boot, Aaron Confessori and Richard Wiles draw on Old World inspiration to craft a menu of simple, fresh Italian fare. Though their hand-made meatballs and house-made pastas evoke the rich flavors of the Tuscan countryside, they strive to gather their ingredients from sources closer to home. Kansas City staple Krizman’s House of Sausage, for example, supplies the restaurant’s italian sausage. If guests can pry their attention away from the seared skirt steaks or Prince Edward Island mussels on their plates, they will notice a dining room lined with exposed brick walls and capped with tin ceiling tiles. Long rows of wood-topped tables add a touch of the rustic to an otherwise contemporary setting, which Aaron and Richard styled after their favorite Italian dining spots. Hanging overhead lights cast a soft glow on the bar, whose tenders shake handcrafted cocktails, pour microbrews, and stage gladiatorial bouts with olive spears.
Family is important at Cascone's Restaurants, a fact illustrated by the portraits adorning their lobby walls and the relatives working side by side in the kitchen and dining room since the first eatery opened four generations ago in 1954. Chef Victor Cascone draws from the family's Sicilian heritage to plate traditional pasta and meat dishes. He also draws inspiration from family members young and old to put a fresh spin on time-tested dishes, as evidenced by nachos made from pasta. That sense of camaraderie spreads to the spacious banquet facilities at both restaurants, making them suitable venues for families gathering for birthday parties, rehearsal dinners, and spaghetti-slurping contests.:
Founded in 1964 by a tile maker as an edible canvas on which to practice his square-cutting, Imo’s original St. Louis–style pizza features a thin, cracker-crisp crust topped with homemade sauce and Provel cheese, then sliced into squares. The love child of a culinary fromage a trois between cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses, Provel melts into a soft, creamy pool reminiscent of the delicious dairy lagoons tucked away high in the Swiss Alps, and can be enjoyed on Imo’s pizza for its minimalistic beauty or as a blank canvas for a DIY pizza experience ($12.38–$14.76 base price for a large). Pile on any of Imo’s 14 fresh toppings—including pepperoncini, hamburger, Canadian bacon, and jalapeno—or indulge in one of its popular specialty pies (less than $20 at either location). The all-meat pizza combines sausage, hamburger, bacon, Canadian bacon, and pepperoni, while the veggie deluxe (mushroom, onion, green pepper, and tomato) hosts a stately garden party in one’s mouth.
Emerging from a wood-fired oven framed by brick and white marble, gooey, melted mozzarella bubbles atop a freshly crafted pizza. With this oven as their centerpiece, Open Fire Pizza’s pizzaioli curate a menu of gourmet pizzas and calzones composed of fresh, local, and organic ingredients. The pizzeria strives to make a minimal impact on the environment by powering its eatery with rooftop solar panels, maintaining zero-trash policies, and fueling its ovens with wood from well-hugged trees. Meanwhile, Open Fire Pizza nourishes its surrounding community by hosting regular art openings and open-mic nights.