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.
Before the owners of Pie Zano’s Pizzeria opened their restaurant, they knew that their toughest critics would be their own relatives. That’s because they planned for their menu to include the time-tested recipes that were passed down for generations. After receiving high marks in a family taste test, they flung open the doors of the neighborhood eatery to share their creations with the community. For an added touch of freshness, their specialty pizzas, meatball subs, and pastas boast ingredients culled from local sources. The family-owned establishment also shows its dedication to the community by supporting area youth sports programs.
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.
Windows covering the wall let floods of natural light pour across servers who bear trays of pastas and pizzas through Sutera's Italian Restaurant, which has been in business for three decades. As night falls, domed hanging lights glow overhead like hovering spacecraft, illuminating a weathered wooden bar where wall compartments backed in vibrant red contain ranks of bottled wines. At tables, patrons tear into meatball subs and burgers with italian seasoning, causing traders in napkin futures to pull out their cell phones.
Santora's pie masters craft 17 gourmet and signature pizzas entirely from scratch, tossing each crust by hand, slathering it with house-made sauce, and festooning the savory circle with fresh-cut vegetables and locally sourced meats. The margarita pizza begins with a zesty pesto base before piling on fresh slices of tomato, garlic, and basil, whereas Lil Anthony's 8 Cheese pie showcases a gooey synthesis of romano, parmesan, feta, alfredo, mozzarella, cheddar, smoked provolone, and the shop's signature herb blend. Juliana's Taco pie disguises all the components of a taco—salsa, refried beans, fresh ground beef, and sour cream—into a form that is easier to share, but harder to hide under a derby hat. Alternatively, uncover the cornucopia of veggies, pepperoni, hamburger, italian sausage, meatballs, and canadian bacon cleverly concealed beneath the Mamma Mia pizza's extra heap of golden cheese.
The brainchild of New York–native Joseph Palladino, Coal Vines Restaurant centers its Italian-inspired menu around thin-crust pizzas crisped inside a coal-fired oven. Chef T.J. Stack applies his years of culinary expertise working at the landmark Savoy Grill to Coal Vine Restaurant’s menu, which pairs its retinue of cheesy pies, pastas, and sandwiches with an extensive assortment of merlots, cabernets, and chardonnays freshly squeezed from the grape’s udder. The omelet and pancake stations erected during Sunday brunch augment the eatery’s Italian offerings with classic midday fare washed down with seasonal mimosas served by flute or carafe. Daily grinders can unwind during weekday Winedowns, which offer select glasses of wine for $5 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.Wine bottles nestle inside Coal Vines Restaurant’s every nook and cranny, flanking floor-to-ceiling doors that give way to a breezy patio stationed between potted plants and black fencing. In the dining room, floors burnished to a shimmering mocha hue reflect the bright red cushioned chairs that surround each table, and at night, candles illuminate the shiny marble bar laden with vino harvested from an on-site wine vault.