North Kansas City

ilaria / Flickr -- CC

Italian food. Those two words may bring up images of a pasta dish with red sauce, or perhaps a thick square of lasagna. Throw in a glass of wine, and you're set for a cold winter night.

Some local chefs are also putting a creative spin on the cuisine. From old-school favorites to some new takes, our food critics on KCUR’s Central Standard searched out the best Italian food in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Aaron Leimkuehler

Restaurants come and go. On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have kept up with the latest goings-on in our local dining scene from over the past several months.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Talking to fourth graders about saving money for college is very different than talking to their parents, Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt found out Tuesday.

“How do you get money?” asked a student at Crestview Elementary, the first stop on a statewide tour to promote 529 college savings accounts.

When Schmitt replied you get money by working, the girl’s classmate raised his hand to ask, “How much do you get?”

Some have started calling it "Northlandia" — the area around Highway 9 and Armour Road that's become home to cool restaurants, breweries, distilleries and more. We take a closer look at this part of NKC.

Then: the story behind the Northland opposition to tax-funded streetcar expansion on the August 8 ballot, and the new pipe organ, almost 10 years in the making, at a Prairie Village church.

Guests:

Francis Bourgouin / Flickr -- CC

What sets a truly great happy hour apart?

Well, delicious food and drinks, for one. There’s also the vibe of the place.

“The social aspect of this cannot be discounted, even in the discounted world of happy hour,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Plus, she added, it’s just good way to get to familiarize yourself with a new cuisine or try a restaurant that might normally be out of your price range.

Karen Neoh / Flickr -- CC

There’s a lot that can go between two slices of bread.

Portable and fuss-free — no need for utensils — sandwiches are perfect for work lunches or picnics.

Kevin Collison for KCUR

North Kansas City is opening a new “front door” on Armour Road, transforming land once dominated by massive flour mills into a mixed-use district that includes an $8 million jewelry store.

Erin / Flickr -- CC

Brunch can take on many different forms.

There’s the all-you-can-eat buffet, complete with waffle and omelet stations.

And don’t forget the boozy brunch — quite possibly the only time of the week where one could have a drink in the morning without feeling too guilty.

On Friday's Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics took their annual look at the best brunch dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

First, a conversation with the co-hosts of Alien Minute, a podcast that takes a minute-by-minute look at the 1979 science-fiction/horror classic, Alien. Then, former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins talks about his latest collection of poetry, The Rain in Portugal.

Augie Grasis
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Augie Grasis doesn’t shy away from the label “serial entrepreneur.”

“I guess it’s true from the standpoint that I’ve had a number of startups,” says Grasis, the founder of multiple technology companies in Kansas City. “It’s really what interests me the most and what turns me on the most about life and about commerce. It’s innovating and improving the way things are done.”

Grasis is best known for starting up Handmark, which made content apps for the Palm operating system before expanding to other platforms and being acquired by Sprint in 2013.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

It’s the kind of story that’s a little hard to believe until you visit the neighborhood.

Just after 8 a.m., a school bus stops on North Freemont Avenue and kids pile on.

They have their backpacks, lunches and homework. It all seems normal.

Except they only live a few blocks from the school and aren't allowed to walk.

It would take Jessica Andrews’ four kids about five minutes to walk to Maplewood Elementary School in the Northland. “We’re really, really close. Why aren't they walking, it’s so close? There’s no sidewalks. It’s not safe for them to walk."

Kelsey Smith

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in August 2015.

Squirrels can be found just about anywhere in the Kansas City area, from the densest parts of the urban core, to rural prairie or forest settings.

They typically are a grayish color, brown or an orangey red, but recent black squirrels sightings in one Northland neighborhood have residents curious about the origins of their new dark furry neighbors.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

If you've been to Macken Park in North Kansas City recently you may have found yourself suddenly surrounded by food trucks. That's because of a of trial food truck "pod" program the city hopes will bring new tastes and visitors to North Kansas City.

The Northland News reported last week that not everyone from North Kansas City is excited about this new gathering spot.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Everything Bryce Schaffter needed to brew beer commercially, North Kansas City had.

“Mostly industrial buildings work the best, along with the utilities that come to the building,” says Schaffter, Cinder Block Brewery founder. “You need a lot of gas power, electrical and obviously, water.”

North Kansas City has what Schaffter calls “flat” water. He got used to working with it back when he was a homebrewer who lived north of the river.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

A heated feud over the fate of North Kansas City Hospital may soon be coming to a close. Hospital and city leaders are meeting Friday in hopes of resolving their differences. Moreover, recently passed state legislation and newly elected local officials appear to have diffused the controversy.  

wikimedia commons

North Kansas City’s hospital can’t be sold, so long as a dispute over whether the city has the authority to sell it is in court. That’s according to a preliminary injunction issued by a Clay County judge yesterday. While the ruling is good news for the hospital board bringing the lawsuit, the board also took a hit in yesterday’s court decision.