Joe started his original pizza restaurant in 1969 under a brother-in-law-owned franchise and a loan from his farmer father. With much work and ingenuity, the franchise slowly took off with new locations opening around Greater Kansas City.
But shortly after that in 2003, Joe broke from the climbing franchise to go on his own. The catch – he had to wait two years before re-opening his place under a new name and menu. But he would keep the original location. During that hiatus, he and his family devised their new name and menu. This review shows how it turned out.
Basic description The revised restaurant is a combined pizza and Italian cafe with a full but simplified menu. Much of its business it takeout. But it also has dining and private rooms, each holding 30 people or so. Its dine-in tables hold the powdered cheeses, hot sauces, and metal racks for the pizzas.
The original place is at 61st & Nieman Road, Shawnee, KS; a second one at 34th & Gibbs Road, Kansas City, KS. Both places have the same lunch/dinner menus and hours (Sun-Thu 11-am to 9-pm; Fri-Sun 11-am to 10-pm).
These cafes offer weekly/daily specials, dollar-saving specials for families or groups, catering, over-the-counter merchandise (e.g., gift certificates, dressing, sauce, and apparel that can all be Internet ordered via PayPal), and coupons that can be printed from their website. We like the 10%-off-dine-in coupon.
Starters: 8 (varied, bread sticks to toasted ravioli; $3 to $8, except for large-crowd servings)
Salads: 10 (varied kinds and sizes, traditional to Italian; $4 to $8 except for a huge salad that serves 8 or more people, $14)
Children’s items: 7 (mini-pizza, spaghetti, mac & cheese etc; $4 ea)
Sandwiches: 11 (varied, traditional and Italian; $7 to $8)
Calzones (3 or more toppings; $6 to $10)
Prairie pizzas: (build your own; small-9″/six-slices to biggin’-18″/16-slices; $8 to $20 depending on the size and toppings; dough made fresh daily)
Specialty pizzas: 21 (varied; $13 to $30, depending on the size)
Pastas: 11 (varied; $8 to $11; w/seafood, $13)
What we chose from the menu
We like the big veggie pizzas, i.e., the Farmers Market or Italian Paradise on which we substitute the artichokes for extra cheese or olives, and, sometimes, pepperoni. We take it home after using the $2-off coupon.
When we eat-in there, we go for the pasta dishes. If celebrating or hungry, we will have the regular pasta dinners with meat by using the buy-one-pasta/get-the-second-at-half-price coupon. More often, however, we have the pasta lunches instead (11-am to 3-pm). These smaller servings come with a soft drink. Recently, we had the Manicotti and Cannelloni, $7 each.
These dishes each comprise a big pasta noodle stuffed with either ricotta cheese or meat, which are then baked in a choice of tomato-meat or creamy-Alfredo sauce plus a three-cheese topping. They arrive at the table in hot-metal plates, each accompanied by two pieces of garlic toast. Somehow, I’m always dipping my toast into that thick baked-down sauce.
Of course, the 10%-off coupon helps here, which makes for an inexpensive lunch out. That spells success for any cafe. For three easy pasta recipes, see this website.