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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.