Sally and Robert Bennett, their children beside them, stood at the edge of the busy intersection in Overland Park the day after Thanksgiving. They clutched bundles of business cards tied to samples of their homemade chocolate and passed them out to idling drivers. The success of their street-side pitch led to Sweet Perfection Bakery and its display cases of housemade candies and cakes. Aided by a few other bakers, the duo crafts most baked goods from family recipes—such as grandma's sugar cookies and a pie Robert created during his time serving in the Marines. As evidence of the bakery's strong familial ties, family members—such as children and nieces—frequently help with daily kitchen operations.
Much like da Vinci painted a new Mona Lisa each day to keep her from changing her hairstyle, the bakers build cinnamon rolls, fruit pies, and seasonal cakes in-house every morning. Their confectionary delights snub preservatives in favor of real fruit and hearty buttercream frosting. An on-staff cake decorator embellishes lemon-raspberry and german-chocolate cakes with Happy Birthdays and Well Wishes, and blueberry pies garner praise as a customer favorite. Bakers also design custom orders, sometimes completing cakes last-minute when needed, once finishing a decorated cake on the spot for a distraught mother, whose first cake tumbled to the floor less than two hours before her son's birthday party.
On street corners from Texas to North Carolina, Johnny Brusco's Pizza serves up piping-hot slices of New York, and that's not whistling Dixie. It's not even kazooing Yankee. The franchise boasts a lineage that stretches back to 1965, when pie-smith Johnny Pace opened up his pizzeria just outside of Syracuse. Though the menu stays true to Johnny's classic style, today's crust-tossers aren't afraid to switch things up in modern style. Gluten-watchers can dig into a flour-free variant of the crust, and their specialties include such daring choices as a cream cheese pizza, a Philly-esque steak and cheese, and a zesty gourmet pie with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and artichokes. Outside of the round stuff, diners might select a summery strawberry-pecan salad, a classic plate of bruschetta with pesto, mozzarella, and marinara sauce, and a finger-licking dessert of cinna-knots.
At two locations, The Other Place’s staff fires up ovens to bake pizzas, italian subs, and sandwiches to a golden brown—the color of Pharaoh’s mask after he eats a chocolate bar. Atop hand-made pizza crusts made from a 40-year-old recipe, the kitchen team layers toppings such as italian sausage, salami, and sun-dried tomatoes, lubricated by tomato, alfredo, and barbecue sauce. Submarine-shaped bread holds italian meats, veggies, and toppings. In both eateries’ dining areas, more than 50 TVs stream sports games. The Other Place also often entertains guests with karaoke—America’s most underappreciated sport, and the one with the least funding in most school districts.
Aromas of Kansas City–style barbecue and meats smoked over sweet hickory wood in a rotisserie smoker permeate McGuire's Smokehouse. Slabs of ribs are juxtaposed to smoked veggies and homestyle sides such as coleslaw, onion rings, and red beans with rice. Chefs also smoke chicken wings before frying them and launching them into an inflatable pool of various sauces. Bottled beers such as Budweiser chase down eats, and Blue Bunny ice-cream sandwiches cool the tongue after smoky meals.
The chefs at Long Island Pete's are passionate about two things: authentic New York style pizza and real Kansas City-style barbecue. And they aren't content to simply serve their two-specialties side-by-side. Here, barbecue and pizza often go hand-in-hand, creating a delightful fusion of smokey, savory flavors. The shop's signature pie, the Vicki con Vino, features a red-wine crust topped with barbecue beef, barbecue pork, smoked sausage, bacon, and spicy barbecue sauce. For a little extra spice, the cooks can make that pizza?or any of their signature pizzas, for that matter?with a cayenne-pepper laced Italian crust, or add some sweet notes by swapping in a honey wheat crust or a flattened layer cake. Meanwhile, barbecue purists can enjoy sandwiches stuffed with burnt ends and Swiss cheese or beef sliders paired with baby back ribs. Hot and cold subs, salads, and breakfast specialties like biscuits and gravy round out the rest of the menu, along with a selection of lattes, mochas, and cappuccinos, available hot or served over ice.
In 2008, Culinary Institute of America alum Dan Janssen and four friends camped out to secure a spot in the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle. Dan immediately began training for the event, honing his recipes and asking friends and family to taste-test each smoky cut during weekend get-togethers. Great Lenexa, it turned out, was just the tip of the dry-rubbed iceberg. Over the next few years, Dan and his culinary crew refined their dishes, expanded their menu, and began raking in the ribbons?including five awards in the 2013 American Royal Barbeque Contest, taking 3rd place overall in sides and 5th place in beans.
Their barbecue is no longer a competition-only treat. The Rub Bar-B-Que & Catering makes it available to the Olathe area. Alongside classic pulled pork and beef sandwiches, Chef Dan showcases inventive dishes such as burritos filled with burnt ends, jalape?os, and pico de gallo. His menu also sports plenty for rib-enthusiasts, from 1/3 racks to full racks ideal for large groups or one very determined ant.