Jolly: Take Out Pasta Wars, Carmen’s Cafe versus Garozzo’s

Carmen’s Cafe is new to Leawood on the very cool restaurant strip near Town Center Plaza

They have a great location that’s close to shopping, movies and other restaurants that offer similar upscale cuisine. But Carmen’s does it better, way better than the shadow that may follow them from its Brookside location.

That said, they’re under an even bigger shadow, that of Garozzo’s.

Garozzo’s has four locations in KC, one in Olathe (but who the heck wants to eat there?), another in Overland Park on College and the original on 526 Harrison downtown. The fourth’s in Lee’s Summit.

Who knew if you became a successful restaurateur here you’d open locations in the two most white trash cities in the area?

What, there weren’t any mini-mall spaces available in Independence?

Garozzo’s has been around 22 years, but I haven’t done anything for 22 years except maybe play with my junk and bartend. But Garozzo’s has become the STAPLE for Italian food in KC. Everyone’s heard its owner’s raspy voice on the radio clamoring for people to come to his restaurant during any or all of the holiday’s. So the Garozzo’s three blocks from my OP home was too tempting to pass up.

When I walked into the bar to order to go, I wondered for a second if I was late to my own wedding.

What’s with the tuxedo shirts and ties? It’s even weirder on the chick servers. The staff wears black tuxedo pants and matching shirts – the ones with ruffles worn by the prom date you wish you’d pepper sprayed – with bow ties and the icing on the cake; suspenders.

Did somebody have a 70s garage sale?

Anyway, I walked in wearing plaid shorts and a T-shirt – way underdressed for a Monday – but I was hungry. So I ordered Spiedini di Pollo, chicken wrapped in breading then topped with olive oil and seasoning. It came with a side of pasta in a nice red sauce. Garozzo’s side salad was extra, but worth it.

Most places put the to go salad in a box and with the dressing on the side, which they should. But there’s something about Garozzo’s salad being drenched in dressing that makes it soooooo good. I also asked for a meatball since I heard they were incredible.

Well, let’s get the good news out of the way first. The salad was as good as advertised, and you can buy Garozzo’s dressing in local grocery stores. It was the best side salad I’ve ever had!

Now the bad.

My entree looked like some crackhead did the unthinkable to my fettuccine.

Which by the way was SUPPOSED to come with linguine, but tasted great still. I actually love anything in olive oil. But this meal was so heavy you could actually see the oil trying to fight its way out of my to go box. I’m kinda a fat kid, but that was TOO much. I think the cook making it maybe saw that it was to-go and went, OOOPPSS with the olive oil and then, HA HA.

Remember the meatball I ordered?  Never got it.


However the bartender that waited on me was one of the most professional I’ve ever been served by. That guy was first class, as was most of the staff at Garozzo’s.

Carmen’s Cafe on the other hand was dressed to impress just with its food.

I called in my first ever order and was happier than a ex-Chantix user that just started smoking again. Love this place! I ordered Maggies Pasta and the scallops app. My order also came with a wonderful Caesar salad – not as good as Garozzo’s salad but very good.

Whoever Maggie is, she’s a genius. That pasta was better than Andrew Luck’s family Christmas dinner this year. REALLY GOOD.

And the scallops were even better. They where at least three inches in diameter and didn’t have those weird muscles attached that some restaurants miss when the chef doesn’t separate them. Plus they were sitting in a divine sauce I can only describe as euphoric. And perfectly cooked as only a great chef can do.

Those scallops were so good I wish I hadn’t eaten them, but laid them instead on my Temperpidic mattress and spooned them.

I really wanted to have a serious relationship with that appetizer.

A big plus is Carmen’s Cafe is just as reasonable price-wise as lesser Italian joints like Carabba’s and Macaroni Grill. And a better value than Garozzo’s, with a way better product.

WINNER- Carmen’s Cafe

Garozzo’s-3.5 plastic forks

Camen’s Cafe-4.5 plastic forks

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22 Responses to Jolly: Take Out Pasta Wars, Carmen’s Cafe versus Garozzo’s

  1. Super Dave says:

    Hmmmmm Olive Oil
    Wow was just told about two places to get food and not a mention one of any ho’s or what famous actor was there eating as well.

    Great story Mr. Jolly looking forward to more.

  2. HARLEY says:

    after having been raised with some of the best food critics and reviewers…i’m sorry to say
    you struck out. First…the story sounds like it was written by an amatuer…the story had no food
    expertise to speak of…how the food was prepared…the ingredients…the presentation so you
    really need to work on that. Just no real food experience was shown in the article.
    Second…anyone who knows good food…knows it should not be taken out. You don’t take out
    a ruth chris or capital grille steak…the excellence in those products is in the fact that they
    are served in an incredible way and carrying great food home in a box is no way to taste test
    food. Whether its fast food or gourmet…great food is enjoyed fresh…hot and not with the grease
    seeping thru the box and bag. You can fix that…don’t worry about carry out unless you are
    tasting applebees (horrible…in side or curbside…yech!)
    Third of all…i told you to “DUCK”…did you not realize the connections of the garrozzo family.
    You not only insulted the man’s food but his family and heritage. NOONE CRITICIZES AN
    Fourth…mike didn’t invent spidini…that recipe came direct from….st. louis.
    And fifth…we’re all gonna give you a break since its your first writing. Glaze has written hundreds
    and noone gives him a break. But you’re young and taking on the kcc challenge is a tough
    act…especially with great writers as hearne (lol)…kelly (hahaha)…jack the german (hahaha)
    and of c ourse the always controversial glaze the giant.
    Good luc..go read bon appetite magazine…work at your craft and never ever talk down an
    italian family restuarant in kc…or else!

  3. Facts says:

    Great story
    Great story Mr Jolly, wlecome to the club, look forward to more.

    Ignore EVERYTHING harley says, he is insane.

  4. KCMonarch says:

    What is proper tipping etiquette for carry out?
    15-20%? All they do is bring the bag of food served up in carcinogenic styrofoam box.

    Also, why is glazer now posting comments under all caps HARLEY and Johnny now?

  5. Smartman says:

    Dreck The Halls
    Garozzo’s is shit. Tell me something good Rufus. Last good meal I had at Garozzo’s was 20 years ago, on Harrison, when all the waiters were men and they sang when they came to your table.

    Even Mike and Charlie’s sucks. Il Centro, Accurso’s and Carmen’s are my favorites, but the BEST Italian food in Kansas City is still in St. Louis at Charlie’s on the Hill where they know who Jimmy Roselli is.

  6. chuck says:

    Very funny, I agree, I love Carmens.
    They will still serve the “Three Way” Spidini if you ask for it.

    The lunch deals are spectacular and it is not too crowded, I go in and sit at the bar (No, really, I sit at the bar.), and gorge. Killer food.

    I’ve never been to Charlie’s On The Hill, sounds cool. Sutera’s, over on Rainbow is another one of my favorites, the food is great imo.

  7. gilmor602 says:

    Nothing compares to FAZOLI’S
    I hear their employees are trained in a school in Tuscany!

    Anyone know the answer to the following math problem:

    9 + 8 = ?

    I really want to post my witty thoughts!

  8. balbonis moleskine says:

    I assume that since you are 22 and can’t write that your mommy is the City Councilwoman?

  9. tiad says:

    tiad says:
    Wow, Hearne, hang on to this guy – you aren’t paying him enough. He’s a national treasure.

  10. harley says:

    down some ambien…drink some nyquil…get some sleep….

  11. Cliffy says:

    Reviewing entrees eaten from styrofoam containers? I guess that’s what they do at the Am Royal BBQ contest but man … get a table … please.

  12. Fcats says:

    Uh, you knuckleheads, I think the idea of these columns is TO GO, TAKE OUT….. I like it….. to go is a great way to save on the hasles of dining in crowded reastauarants, you can save of great bottles of home wine, you dont have to deal with idiot waiters, getting waited on etc etc……

    ANYWAY…… I will offer waht I think is one of the best take out s in KC…. drum roll please…. SMOKESTACK BBQ…… now I will first say, I am a Johnny come latley as far as Smokestack….. it was juts added to my VERY LIMITED BBQ LIST LAST YEAR (only Bryants Gates and a couple of others)…and I only found this palce becasue we could not find Sneads on 135th street…. and were starving so we went to Smokestack…. we ate in and it was good…..ANYWAY..

    ANYWAY…… I ordered more than I could eat so I had my BBQ beans and excess rib meat to go……and dang it was so good I jonesed to go back…… then …. looking at the online meneu I saw where they have this TO GO thing where you call in your order, tell what kind of car you car have and then you drive there, park outside..and they bring it to you….. I have done this on the Plaza and downtown…. it was too easy…and bringing the stuff home to eat was awesome….

    i reccomned ordering a quart of the beans and a pound of their smokey joe mixed meats…… bring em home…mixem together and pig out.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK MR JOLLY…..and again, ignore the idiot comments, glazer has made it common, and popular to hate on this site, galzer breeds hate… it is what he does, it is what he is……. hopefully glazer will leave this site soon, and we can get on with having a positive, happy place to read fun stuff, without glazer’s BS ruining it for everyone.

  13. harley says:

    Won hung lo has very filling take out
    My personal favorite is the house special Cream of Sum Yung Guy. Now if you will all excuse me ,I’ve got corporations to raid, kings to usurp, and swords to cross.

  14. Mysterious_J says:

    I am laughing, but…
    AT the author, not WITH the author.

  15. Marti says:

    Garozzo’s Shithouse or: Where to get cocaine from a fatboy
    How could anyone even write about an Italian like this hoghead? He is a disgrace to his heritage and sweats even more. He’s not even allowed at Mike and Charlie’s cause he’s a drunk. Just ask Harrah’s management! The boy’s at Carmen’s deserve credit but shouldn’t even be compared to the fat sweaty hog’s place. If you want Dopey’s type of food, go back to the Hill in St. Louis, cause you will only get a garlicky, cheese drenched version here. He’s also well known for his snitching on others. Quit writing about him because he is a disgrace to his own family. His wife is so sweet, it’s a shame she stays with him but she knows what a pig he is and she stays only for her kids. Just look at that picture of him, what a shame!

  16. balbonis moleskine says:

    To Facts: to go is a great way to save on the hasles of dining in crowded reastauarants, you can save of great bottles of home wine, you dont have to deal with idiot waiters, getting waited on etc etc……

    Actually you look too much into it. It is hearne’s way of settling a grudge with Tim Finn from the Star, who was sanctioned for reviewing the restaurants of places that he only ate take-out from.

    Like most things on KCC, it boils down to simple character attacks

  17. chuck says:

    The undead don’t need sleep.

  18. Merle Tagladucci says:

    Best thing that ever happened to me at Garozzo’s was back in ’93 when I took my girlfriend out for her birthday. Five minutes after we sat down, the couple at the table across from us had just paid their tab and were getting up to leave. As the guy stood up, he was putting his money clipped stack of bills in his pocket when a single bill fell to the ground and floated down like a leaf, landing under their table. I waited to see if he noticed it, but he didn’t, so I did the stand-up thing. That’s right. I leaned down, saw that it was a $100 bill, and put it in my pocket. Turned to my girlfriend and said, “Order big.”

  19. Facts says:

    Tim Finn is the greatest
    Tim Finn is the greatest writer in the Kansas City area. Kansas City are lucky to have him. Mr Finn runs one of the the best blogs (of any type) in the world. Tim Finn is also one of the best music reviewer in the world.

    I did not see or know about any sanctions for whatever…but as far as I am concerned, he gets a pass. I am fair, and after many mnay years of being a great guy and doing some good…. people get passes… like Hearne has some passes…. and Timm Finn has some passes…and Jack P does too.

  20. Hearne says:

    Greatest in the world, huh?
    Well, we all need our “passes”

  21. GR says:

    try a little harder; get an editor
    So you like Carmen’s more than Garozza’s for your to-go dinners. If thats all you have to say get it out a little sooner and save us all a little time. If you want to be foodie, food critic, whatever than make it interesting for me, I want to hear it. But that stuff you wrote above is just not any good. An editor would help you a ton. consider it.

  22. Rainbow Man says:

    Italian Restaurants in KC
    First… You have to do everything you can to not think about the egos and shameless self promotion by the owners of these restaurants… and then you can accurately judge them.

    1. Jaspers… By far the best in town. You will never be disappointed. If my best client was coming to Kansas City and told me he wanted the best Italian food in KC… this is where we are going.

    2. Lidia’s… Very fresh and innovative. Surprising and changing menu. Just too Food Networked out.

    3. Garozzo’s on Harrison… The food is solid… but the olive oil used does not seem EV… Still Nice.

    4. Italian Delight in Mission…. Yes I am serious. Best Meatball in town.

    5. Carmen’s…. More of a real Italy feel… not the local celebrity Italian Restaurant owner feel..

    6. Cigar Box… This is required dining for anyone calling themselves a real Kansas Citian. The food is great but you just don’t think about it because of everything happening around you.

    7. V’s in Independence… Awesome Lunch.

    8. Cascone’s North Oak… Always solid.

    9. Anthony’s on Grand….. They now how to do beef dishes better than any other Italian Restaurant in town.

    10. Felitza’s in KCK… I don’t even think the owner is Italian… But the food is well executed.

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