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