restaurants

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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:

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Hear the story behind a classic Kansas City restaurant, then visit a new cafe that's located inside an antique mall. Plus: our Food Critics search out the best Italian food in and around KC, from beloved old-school favorites to interesting new takes on the cuisine.

Guests:

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.

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Dining out can be a form of entertainment. We take a look at the trends that play into this experience, from communal tables to open kitchens and more.

Then, the Food Critics discuss the latest restaurant news in KC: openings, closing, new menus and chefs.

Guests:

Rob Bertholf / Flickr -- CC

It's one of the best times of the year to be outside. It's officially fall on the calendar, and after a hot September, it has finally cooled down.

In that spirit, KCUR’s Food Critics searched out the best outdoor dining spots on Friday's Central Standard. From a see-and-be-seen sidewalk café to something that's more secluded and romantic, they found a plethora of spots in and around KC to enjoy the outdoors with food and drink in hand.

Here are their recommendations:

Photo from restaurant Facebook Page

Cafe al Dente is closing after 17 years in the River Market, the first business to depart following the purchase of its building and others along Delaware Street by a Denver investor.

The Italian restaurant posted on its Facebook Page this week it was being “kicked out” of its space at 412 Delaware St., observing “the new building owner has decided we don’t meet his vision and will not renew our lease.”

On the 10th anniversary of his eponymous restaurant, chef Michael Smith talks about embarking on a new concept: making his version of Tuscan cuisine. Then, a local filmmaker on his new documentary about the growing conflict between coffee plantation workers and elephants.

Guests:

Pseph / Flickr -- CC

What exactly is healthy food? Definitions can vary. On this show: a visit to T. Loft, then a local scientist says that salt has gotten a bad rap for years; many of us should eat more salt, not less.

We also look into the healthy restaurant trend, and our Food Critics and a dietitian search out the best healthy dishes in and around KC.

Guests:

*There were technical glitches that impacted the recording of this show.

Last month, Cody Hogan was promoted to general manager of Lidia's Kansas City, the restaurant he helped her open back in 1998. We learn about his journey from cattle ranch kid to classical pianist to chef.

Plus, why one woman from Prairie Village, Kansas decided to turn her New York City home into a museum of Kansas furniture and history.

Guests:

Paul Sableman / Wikimedia Commons

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping an eye on the latest news from KC’s restaurant scene.

They shared some of the highlights from this past spring with host Gina Kaufmann:

lidiasitaly.com

Chef Lidia Bastianich has been bringing Italian food to public television viewers since 1998. Now, she's bringing the tastes of Carnevale di Venezia to her Kansas City restaurant. Then, President Trump's executive order suspending entry of refugees and citizens from seven predominately-Muslim countries has been met with controversy.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

After 30 years in its Country Club Plaza location, Houston’s restaurant will be closing its doors for good Tuesday. The closure comes unexpectedly for many, as the restaurant made the announcement Thursday – leaving Kansas City with only days to have one last meal or drink there. 

Houston’s is closing due to issues with the lease, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

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Happy new year! KCUR’s Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping up with the latest news from KC’s restaurant scene.

They shared their picks with guest host Brian Ellison on Friday’s Central Standard.

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A visit to a local olive oil shop, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best pasta dishes in and around KC.

Plus, the latest news from KC's restaurant scene.

Guests:

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Why do you get one Tater Tot in your order of fries at Winstead’s?

According to Kathy Fern, the general manager at the Winstead’s near the Plaza, that’s not a mistake.

About five years ago, they started adding the lone tot as a promotional thing, but then it stuck. It’s something they strive to do with each order, she said, though that renegade tot doesn’t always appear.

Kevin Marsh

Members of Kansas City's service industry and restaurant community are mourning the death of Jennifer Maloney, long-time executive chef of Cafe Sebastienne at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Maloney died Christmas Day at North Kansas City Hospital after a short, sudden illness. The cause of death is still unclear.

Photo illustration by BigStock Images

Ask food critic Charles Ferruzza what restaurants in Kansas City might look like in 30 years, and he envisions places where “farm-to-table” has gone to the extreme.

“Can you see the day people will come in with their very own sorghum from their backyard and ask you to cook it?” Ferruzza asked chef Ted Habiger on a recent episode of Central Standard

Kansas City has made quite a name for itself as a foodie town. We're internationally known for our barbecue, and our chefs are getting nominated for James Beard awards.

But it wasn't always this way. We used to call ourselves a cowtown, back when steakhouses were our specialty, and only vacations held the promise of 'adventurous' food. So how did we did make it onto the map as an emerging food town, up on, even ahead of, the latest trends?

Guests: 

www.foodnetwork.com

As a contestant on the Food Network's “Cutthroat Kitchen: Tournament of Terror,” local chef Janet Ross had to cook with tools that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie.

“The dishes themselves you think, ‘Well, no problem.’ But it’s a problem if you’re wearing claws that are barely sharp enough to cut and totally curved to where you are just ripping at food,” she told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

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It’s been an especially active summer in the Kansas City food scene.

KCUR’s Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Jill Silva and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping an eye on what’s new and noteworthy in local dining. They shared the highlights with guest host Brian Ellison on Friday’s Central Standard.

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A quiet debate is raging over liquor licensing laws in the Crossroads District. Does it matter, to the character of a neighborhood, what time bars and restaurants issue that famous last call? If you don't have to go home but you can't stay here, what are your options, and who's making those choices?

Guests:

Pittsburgh Craft Beers / Flickr

Bar food: it's salty, it's starchy, and you can usually pick it up with your hands. Beyond that, we make up our own rules. Whether it's by breaking the rules at the speakeasies of yesteryear, or enjoying a sandwich called a fluffernutter that's like a late-night pre-teen cabinet raid. A visit to Tom's Town Distilling Co., a spring-cheese tasting with a certified cheese expert and a critics roundtable on the best bar food in town.

Guests:

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Valentine’s Day is Sunday, which means you and your lover (or lovers!) can enjoy an entire romantic weekend together.

If a romantic weekend together sounds like a terrible idea, consider finding another significant other, or just keep reading. I promise I’ve put together an entirely un-cheesy, love-tastic weekend.

Friday Evening

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

In December, an often-called iconic Kansas City steakhouse shut its doors.

The Golden Ox Restaurant & Lounge, which was one of the oldest restaurants in Kansas City, will see new life next fall under new ownership

But what makes a Kansas City restaurant iconic? It depends on who you ask.

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

EBT. For some Kansas Citians the acronym has no particular meaning, but for long-time residents it's a reminder of the former downtown department store, Emery, Bird, Thayer & Company — or the restaurant that takes its name and some of its decor from this former Kansas City institution. EBT the restaurant announced to staffers Monday that it would close on December 31.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

If you’ve ever wondered what food tasted like 100 years ago, Dixon’s Famous Chili on Highway 40 is like a culinary time capsule.

With its red décor, bar stools and historic photos, it looks like a 1960s-style diner, and that’s when this particular restaurant opened near the stadiums on U.S. Highway 40.

In 1919, Vergne Dixon opened the original location at 15th and Olive streets just east of downtown, which makes it one of the oldest family-run establishments in the Kansas City metro; Dixon’s Chili eventually became a chain of 13 restaurants, including one in Minnesota. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Pickling is a trend picking up all over the country, and Elise Landry, sous chef at Ça Va in Kansas City's Westport neighborhood, is pickling everything. Turnips, husk cherries, shallots … you name it, she’s pickled it.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Hot peppers, tomato wedges, onions and a pickle spear. That's a Chicago dog.

Mustard, kraut and onion — that's New York.

But what's on a Kansas City hot dog? Is it tangy barbeque sauce or simply a Boulevard beer to wash it down? As of now, there isn't a universal version of a KC-style dog. So we asked three local eateries to invent their signature Kansas City dogs. Here's what they created:

Alex Pope, The Local Pig, 2618 Guinotte Ave., Kansas City, Missouri. 

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

Tucked up on a hill in Kansas City's historic Westside neighborhood, Novel looks more like a house than a restaurant. But, very few of the dishes on the menu will remind you of mama’s home cooking — at least at first glance.

Chef and owner Ryan Brazeal serves a lot of offal, which, despite it's pronunciation, is not a judgment on his cooking.

 

Restaurant Week in Kansas City is a great opportunity to try new menus all over the city at a great price, but for those behind the scenes preparing and serving those meals, it can be the most exhausting week of the year. Steve Kraske talks to restaurant industry professionals about the unique challenges they face during the week. 

Guests:

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