Food Critics: The Best Pizza In Kansas City 2015

Apr 3, 2015

Thick or thin crust, red or white sauce, square or triangle ... Kansas City offers a plethora of pizza choices for just about everyone.

On this week's show, Erik Borger, chef/owner of Il Lazzarone, shows our Food Critic Charles Ferruzza how to make a certified authentic Neapolitan pizza. Craig Jones also discusses pizza tips for the home cook, and the Food Critics weigh in on the best pizzas in Kansas City.

Charles Ferruzza:

I love pizza: The good, the bad and the ugly...

  • Il Lazzarone — True Neapolitan pizza.
  • SPIN! — I like the offbeat combination options. It's also good cold the next day, especially the ones with apples on it; it's a good morning pizza.
  • Limestone Pizza in Lawrence — Truly sublime. The pizza is really, really good and it serves some creative pizzas that are nice. There are things on the menu I like just as well, so you can have a pretty nice complete meal.
  • Leo's Pizza in Gladstone — Sometimes, I want to eat a pizza that tastes like my old high school cafeteria pizza. Don't ask me why, but Leo's is IT. High school pizza is a little bit thick, a little bit greasy (in good way), and it doesn't have a vast array of toppings (just stuff you'd expect on a high school pizza). It probably tastes really good with a cold beer.
  • Four Seasons Pizza -- It's one of the few places in town where you can get a thick-crust Sicilian pizza, which is a lot more bread-y, like a focaccia bread. The slices are square, and it's definitely  best served as side dish with salad because it's like eating bread as your main course.

Mary Bloch:

  • Pizzabella — My favorites are the potato pizza with gorgonzola and radicchio and the biancoverde with four cheese and arugula.
  • Il Lazzarone — It's all about the crust.
  • Extra Virgin — Monday night is pizza night. Michael Smith (who was the chef behind SPIN!) creates a "pizza of the night," and you can enjoy it with 1/2 price wines all evening (and they have a fabulous wine list).
  • SPIN! — I create my own bianca pizza with fig marmalade and blue cheese.
  • Limestone Pizza — It's worth the drive to have a pie there! The chefs put a basil puree on top, so you can really taste the intensity of the flavor.
  • Prairie Fire Oven food truck — David White makes great pizzas (8-10 inch pizzas).

Jenny Vergara:

  • Pizzabella — This is my favorite hidey-hole. I slide down the Crossroads location to get its proscuitto pizza, Brussels sprouts and butter lettuce salad with a glass of red wine. Adore the atmosphere there!
  • Providence Pizza — They are cooking three different styles of pizza they grew up eating in Providence, RI: New York-style floppy slices, Neapolitan pizza and a thick crust, cut in square slices. New York slices are my favorite.
  • SPIN! — Something for everyone and a wonderful atmosphere. My son loves its five-cheese pizza and gelato. I can get a good glass of wine and their eight-color salad, or I always want to try the pizza of the week. Really fun and cool atmosphere. They have locations around KC, plus a new location that just opened in Crown Center.
  • Grinders — I heart the Bengal Tiger pizza; it's delicious and unique with Indian spices, tandoori chicken, crab meat, hearts of palm and cilantro.
  • Old Shawnee Pizza — Thin crust, just the way I grew up eating and liking pizza. It's a traditional old-fashioned thin crust pizza. They have pizzas with some interesting toppings, but if I'm doing thin crust, I keep it really simple; I tend to get cheese or pepperoni.

Listener recommendations:

  • Papa Keno's — I like the crust and the toppings (they don't overdo it). It sells by the slice. It also has a Papa Pie that's 26 inches and a chicken Tuscan one with cream cheese, roast chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and Romano cheese. The Downtown Overland Park location is owned by Philippe Lechevin, the executive chef at the Dining Experience at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Waldo Pizza is probably the best in town; I like the thin crust and the St. Louis-style pizza. The sauce is always consistent; everything is consistent and the service is great. The atmosphere is like a hometown pizza parlor.
  • Johnny Jo's has the best pizza in town. The owner has made dutch crunch sandwiches. It serves two different styles: A regular NY style and the thicker Neapolitan style.
  • Bella Napoli — I'm from Germany and I grew up with Italian pizza. The quattro fromaggi is my favorite.
  • Mafia Pizzeria Southside serves halal meat. I don't eat pork, and I can get pepperoni pizza that isn't pork-based.
  • 715 in Lawrence has sold balls of pizza dough. Most restaurants will sell if you ask; Trader Joe's also sells pizza dough in a ball. Or you can get Boboli in grocery store and add toppings.
  • Minsky's has a five star medley pizza that includes goat cheese. It's a five cheese pizza with rosemary.
  • Joe's Pizza at the back of Kelly's — I love them for the pizza by the slice. It's also "you're drunk and you're walking around Westport" pizza.
  • Mio Pizzeria in Leawood serves a pizza with caramelized onions, roast mushrooms, bechamel sauce, roasted chicken and a blend of mozzarella and provelone cheese.
  • Pizza 51 has best thin crust in town. It's just right amount of sauce and cheese. I like the pepperoni with sun dried tomatoes and spinach. You can order by the slice.
  • Sutera's in Shawnee — I really like its crust, which is a nice combination of crisp and chewy, toothsome but not thick. You can get either red sauce or white Alfredo sauce, fresh veggies and lots of beer and wine.
  • Rock and Run Brewery by Liberty Square has a Mediterranean pizza that's very nice.
  • 75th Street Brewery serves a deep dish Chicago-style pizza that's excellent. It's baked fresh so it takes 45 min.
  • Avelluto's Italian Delight in Mission. They stand there and spin the dough. Good pizza by the slice; all the food is good. The crust isn't eal thin. By-the-slice is pre-cooked; you order your toppings, it's baked in the over and it comes out really nice. It's a good inexpensive pizza; good lasagna too.
  • Coal Vines — Great pizza, like the North End of Boston.
  • Italian Delight in KCK — Sells by the slice; Neapolitan- and Sicilian-style pies.
  • Rosati's in Overland Park — Good deep dish pizza.
  • Next Door Pizza in Lee's Summit — It has the best Chicago-style pizza I've had in the area. The Chicago style is more of the pie crust/cornmeal-type crust and not the doughy Chicago style of Pizzeria Uno.
  • Limestone in Lawrence is a neo-prairie-style pizza; the toppings are almost all locally sourced and expertly matched with simple sauces. My personal favorite is the Farmer, which has locally-grown sweet corn.
  • I had a chance to eat a Jewish-style pizza at d'Bronx (it didn't mix milk and meat products).