Garozzo’s Ristorante, Kansas City, Missouri

Ah! Molto bene! Ottimo!

After a great lunch at Chef J Nancy and I drove over to the Truman Library in Independence. We are fans of Presidential Libraries, and this one really captured Truman as a person and as a President. The museum was full of reminders of the extraordinary challenges Truman faced — an overflowing plate even by Presidential standards.

I especially liked Thomas Hart Benton’s mural,

Truman had not been a fan of Thomas Hart Benton’s work, but after few meetings and some bourbon they bonded. I’m gad they did. Even better was this sign:

Note: There is no White House Decision Center exhibit. It’s a classic Truman touch. .

Then it was back to our hotel and then off to a restaurant for which I had high hopes. Spoiler: It exceeded those hopes.

Garozzo’s is in the Columbus Park neighborhood of Kansas City, the old Italian section. It’s bound, you might say protected, by interstates, and all but kept in amber. We did not see one bit of litter in the streets, and the occasional vacant lot had been cleaned up and the grass mowed. Some signs of change, now no larger than a man’s hand, are on the horizon. But there’s also Garozzo’s.

I’ve been in a lot of Old School Italian restaurants, and I’ve enjoyed them all, but none so much as Garozzo’s. Thwarted for Saturday, Nancy and I snagged a reservation for Sunday. We arrived early, parked and walked around the neighborhood for a while. It’s very atmospheric.

Hmm. Not the best framing for that photo. Trust me, there is a G behind the telephone pole.

Nancy and I finished out stroll and walked in shortly before our reserved time. We strolled past a wall full of photos of local and national celebrities and regulars, made our way to the desk, and checked in . Assuming that there’d be a wait, I walked over to the busiest and at the same time the most hyper-efficient bar area I’ve seen in a long life of convivial places. The place was jammed with friendly people inviting each other to their Chiefs game tailgates for Monday night. I thought about joining a conversation to get an invitation, but we had to leave Monday morning. I got our glasses of wine, and almost before we’d taken a sip, our table was ready.

Sepia photographs of decades of weddings, first communions, courtships, and families, the perfect complement to the neighborhood, covered the dining room’s walls. Garozzo’s has many regulars, and there’s a pleasant buzz of conversation, a little chatter from tape to table, and much discussion of what everyone was bringing to the tailgate and who else they should invite. I started rethinking our Monday departure.

I’m not sure which happened first, but the generous bread service arrived hot and crying out for butter. The bread had a fairly light center, and a crust somewhere between French bread and Jewish rye — a serious crust that was, well, al dente.

After the bread came ravioli stuffed with ricotta and graced with a pesto sauce ($9). A little spinach, which dearly loves ricotta, snuck in, too. Here’s one of them.

This dish was remarkable. My notes record, “Nancy going crazy,” something of an exaggeration, but she wouldn’t go near Kansas City again without ordering it.  

On to salads. Nancy’s house salad, which looks pretty plain, had artichoke hearts, onion, pimientos, and Parmigiana, and it was dressed with oil and red wine vinegar ($5.50 with entree). 

The artichoke hearts especially were a big hit, as were the extra-wide anchovies on my well-dressed Caesar salad ($7 with entree).

These were two fine salads.

Nancy’s entree was eggplant parmigiana, which came with a side of penne tossed in sugo.

“How is it? Good!” Also big. Nancy could only eat half of it, but enjoyed every bite. I tested the penne, and the sauce was AOK.

I initially had planned to order Chicken Spiedini, an invention of Michael Garozzo, who moved from The Hill in St. Louis to open his own restaurant many years ago. But you make a plan and God laughs, or reveals to you the wonders of Chicken Vincenzo.  

It arrived preceded by a heavenly fragrance, a breaded paillard covered with sautéed mushrooms, fontina, onions, and, last but hardly least, garlic, and then finished with crushed red pepper and a cognac and cream reduction ($25). It came with sensational linguini with oil and garlic and pepper that by itself was as good as the $24 plate of agilio e olio down the street from me at Sfoglina. This was one of those dishes that I’ll remember, like the crawfish crusted redfish at the Redfish Grill in New Orleans, the Carbonara at Mezza Luna in Orvieto, and the barbecue plate at Sid’s Catering in Beulaville, North Carolina. Regardless of the cuisine, there are times when a restaurant just hits it out of the park. This was one.

Did I mention the service? I mean aside from the astounding efficiency of the bar? I should have. It was very good. Our server was personable and responsive. I enjoyed watching him serving some regulars with knowledge of their preferences and quirks. We were relatively quirk-free, so with us he was “merely” pleasant and professional.

It was too much food, of course, but the only thing I can conceive of dropping would be the salad, and there are so many other things I’d like to try. I managed to share the ravioli, or perhaps Nancy managed, and we shared the bread, but the Vincenzo? You better have eight convicts and a long chain to hold me back.

I had a limoncello to aid my digestion, called a wheelbarrow, and was rolled out the door. Until next time. See you there.


And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box.  Or bookmark us and check in from time to time.  If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the destination city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, often close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event). And stick around for news, all manner of recipeshotels, and the occasional book or movie review and fine arts and architecture commentary.  Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome.  And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.



7 thoughts on “Garozzo’s Ristorante, Kansas City, Missouri

  1. We were there about a year ago and it was amazing (also really enjoyed the Truman library). Food was so good but portions are huge. If you go again try the stuffed artichoke. It’s filled with shrimp, prosciutto and cheese. Unlike anything I’ve had before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John, excellent blog post. Garozzo’s and the Truman Presidential Library are both first-rate. One note: the White House Decision Center at the Truman Library is a space for programming for students and adults, not an exhibit. They do a terrific program where participants role play critical decisions like the Berlin Airlift or the Korean War. The new Truman Library exhibit does an excellent job of showcasing Truman’s tough decisions from 1945-53. We hope you’ll be back in KC again soon! Dean D (Friend of the Truman Library and Garozzo’s patron!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oops. I like my version better. I did go through the critical decision exhibit and found it most impressive. We’ve been to a number of Presidential libraries and this definitely was a favorite. It does a magnificent job of capturing the person and the President.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s