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Kansas City, MO: Exceptional Northern Italian Cuisine Plus Moderate Prices Equals A "Decent Value"
Lidia's Italy 101 W 22nd St Kansas City, MO 64108 Phone number (816) 221-3722 Website: lidias-kc.com Prices: $$$$
We have been going to Lidia's since we moved to Kansas City in 2008 and have never been disappointed. Whether ordering ala carte from the menu or enjoying their fabulous Sunday brunch, the food is always consistent and delicious although a bit pricey.
Antipasti (appetizers) range from $7.50 to $14.00 and include traditional favorites like "frico" (cheese crisp - $12.50), "cozze" (mussels - $12.00), "arancini" (deep fried risotto balls - $12.00), and "pappa al pomodoro" ( a Tuscan tomato and bread soup - $7.50). The frico, for example, is delicious with crispy cheese (usually a higher-fat hard cheeses like Montasio or Asiago) baked in the oven with various decadent ingredients, having originated in the Friuli region of Italy.
Insalate (salads) are normally ordered along with the main course (secondo) when dining in Italy and are not "meal size" as you will find in the United States. At Lidia's they range from $8.00 to $12.50, but I cannot comment on them as I have never ordered one because, other than the Caprese salad - one of my favorites, you should not come to restaurant like Lidia's unless you plan on focusing on pasta and meat/seafood dishes, all of which are quite filling.
Ranging from $17.00 (canneloni) to $22.00 (pasta trio), the prices for their "primi" (first courses - pastas) are Lidia's "Best Value", especially their "pasta trio" which my wife and I have had on numerous occasions. This "all you can eat" medley of three pastas changes daily and includes three different selections (fettucine, penne, ravioli, etc.), each with its own sauce (butter and sage, amatriciana, and other favorites). Servers come around with a large plate of each, giving you as much or as little as you desire so you can sample all three before deciding on which one (or three) you want more of. You can add a caesar salad and choice of dessert for an additional $13, but I would not waste my money and recommend enjoying as much pasta as you can eat instead.
The meat and seafood (secondi) dishes are not cheap at $21 for the lemon chicken to $49.50 for the bone-in rib eye steak, but if you like a traditional Italian meal with antipasto, primo and secondo, you will not be disappointed ... you will, however, be bursting at the seams! Secondi at Lidia's, unlike restaurants in Italy, are accompanied by "contorni" (vegetables and potatoes), making a full meal if you prefer meat and potatoes over pasta. My favorite used to be their "involtini di manzo", rolled beef scallops with pickle, vegetables and mustard (a Northern Italian recipe), accompanied by mashed potatoes, but it has not been on the menu lately.
Their wine list is extensive with nothing under $32 for a bottle (the "Value List" has a nice selection of reds and whites) and ranging up to as high as $495 for a bottle of Lange (2005) Gaja if that is your style. We have ordered from the value list every time we have been there and found the wines quite good and somewhat as the name implies, a "decent" value. They also have a full bar with drinks ranging from $9 to $34.
We have not been there for Sunday brunch in several years, but it used to be an excellent value at $25 (now $29.50). Served buffet style, you can help yourself to a nice selection of antipasti and dolci (desserts), ordering a selection from the wide variety of main courses, including the "Pasta Tasting Menu", frico, porchetta hash, osso buco, and lasagna Bolognese among others.
We have never been there for lunch, but looking at the menu it appears to be a decent value with meal selections reduced by $5 or so compared to the dinner menu and with sandwiches in the $12 to $13 range.
Expect to pay a $100 to $125 for dinner for two, including antipasti and either a primo (pasta) or secondo, a bottle of wine from the value list, and a shared dessert (tip and tax included). We cannot afford to spend that kind of money every time we go out to eat, but for special occasions Lidia's Italy - Kansas City is a decent value with exceptional food, excellent service, and moderate prices.