Lidia Bastianich knows Italian food. Real Italian food. In fact, she may be the foremost female authority on Italian cooking in the entire world. And lucky for us Kansas Citians, she graced us with her culinary expertise by opening a restaurant in the heart of the city. While her restaurant has been open since 1997, people still routinely flock to this place located in the Crossroads district. Why? Because the food is consistently good.
The restaurant is in a historic former railroad building known as the Freight House. While the high ceilings provide an open air feel, there are lots of tables in the dining area. Almost too many, in fact. We were sat in a high traffic area where busboys, waiters and guests endlessly passed our table. It was actually quite distracting and took something away from the meal. I really like the architecture, design and feel of the Freight House, but the multitude and close proximity of tables detracts from the atmosphere.
|Quaglia al Mattone|
Our first course was the Quaglia al Mattone, which is the quail version of "chicken under a brick." Roasted quail paired with fresh corn, grilled figs and a balsamic glaze.
A great summer appetizer. You can't go wrong with fresh corn. The sweet, crispy corn pairs well with the velvety, rich figs. And the quail was beautifully roasted.
|Wild Boar Ravioli with Rosemary Infused Sauce|
Being from Kansas City, I've eaten my fair share of BBQ, especially pork. So a wild boar filled ravioli calls my name. In so many Italian restaurants, when you order ravioli, you receive a massive serving of pasta coated with canned tomato sauce. Not here.
Five sand-dollar sized ravioli with a duo of light tomato and rosemary-infused citrus sauces adorn the pasta. Lots of depths of flavor here. The boar is rich but offset by the delicate sauces.
One of the best offerings on the menu is the three-course all-you-can-eat pasta tasting, which changes nightly. The tasting included: Fettuccine with traditional bolognese, Ziti with Salsa Crudo and Cheese stuffed Ravioli with Basil Pesto.
The Ziti with Salsa Crudo was our favorite. It is paired with an "uncooked" sauce (hence the name Salsa Crudo) consisting of fresh basil, tomatoes and garlic. It made for a great summer pasta.
Though known for BBQ, Kansas City has an abundance of great Italian joints. And Lidia's is one of the best. Since it has been around for a while, it sometimes slips my mind when deciding on dining out. However, I'm always pleasantly reassured as to why it is always busy. The authentic Italian food that Lidia's serves is reason enough to return. And return I will.
Food: 8.0 / 10
Atmosphere: 6.5 / 10
Service: 7.5 / 10
101 W. 22nd Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64108