Carlo’s Copa Room is hidden away near the corner of 87th and Lackman in Lenexa…
That’s right, Lenexa.
This tiny Italian gem is easy to miss because it’s stuffed between Hen House Market and a nail salon. And it’s not like Lenexa, Kansas is well known for nice restaurants let alone anything approaching fine dining. Mostly what you’ll find are pizza buffets, fast food eateries, and an Applebee’s.
Lenexa does have great schools, nice parks, and is a good place to live and raise rugrats, but it’s a wasteland for palate pleasing restaurants. Until, that is, in 2004 when the Carlos family moved to this little family-based city and opened a restaurant that is UNBELIEVABLE.
This is my mother’s favorite restaurant, and I often take her there for lunch. If my mom could cook this good I’d go to more family dinners. Regrettably, she can’t, however Carlo’s mother, Kathy CAN cook and she’s been the head chef there since Day One. Kathy’s there everyday making everything from scratch.
My mother and I arrived at the Copa at 1:00 pm on a Wednesday and were quickly greeted and seated in the back dining area in a circular booth at my mom’s favorite table.
The decor at The Copa Room could use a update. The main bar’s very attractive as is the nearby lounge area that has a few tall tables. But the the bar in the back dining area is not in use anymore and is kind of a eyesore.
This bar was probably in full operation when they first opened, but due to the recession it’s clearly out of service.
There are some spots on the restauant’s walls missing paint and is a wall dividing the two dining rooms that might make some diners in the back feel cut off from all the hustle and bustle of the main dining and bar area. If Gordon Ramsay‘s design team from Kitchen Nightmares came it and did a little touch up, this place would be amazing.
Nonetheless, I don’t usually eat the decor and the food sure doesn’t need fixing.
We ordered bruchetta to start off because neither of us had ever tried it here and it was wonderful. The tomatoes were fresh and the balsamic vinaigrette with onions and garlic danced on our palates.
The accompanying bread was nicely toasted and warm. Next to arrive were our side salads, which come with every meal, and they made competitor’s Italian salads look and taste like dog food. And the salads weren’t soaking wet but rather drizzled with the perfect amount of Carlo’s heavenly dressing.
Our entrees arrived soon after. I ordered Seafood Ravioli from the small plates menu which was the perfect size. There were five huge raviolis stuffed with lobster, scallops, and shrimp all tossed in a white wine tomato basil sauce that reminded me of the first time I had sex…with a women.
My mom ordered Nani’s Lasagna with homemade Sugo sauce which is their signature red sauce. And even though I’ve had this dish many times before, I had to steal a few bites. Thank God my mom’s a light eater….
The Copa Room’s lasagna is by far the best I have EVER had.
And if you dine there, don’t forget to try the complementary bread – it’s warm and baked fresh every day.
By meal’s end we were more stuffed than a minivan schlepping Mexicans across the border but…
I had to try the tiramisu. I had heard about it from the staff and other diners and the mascarpone was sooooo fresh, the lady fingers were light and gently dipped in a coffee goodness that could put Starbucks out of business. That dessert was the best thing to touch my lips since my first prom night.
Carlo’s Copa Room also has live music on Wednesday nights where you can hear all of your favorites from the Rat Pack era. In addition the Copa Room has won accolades for their food from the KC Star and they seem pretty proud of the review they received from the Pitch because they have it posted on their website.
The Pitch gave them 4 ½ stars but I don’t think they did the Copa Room justice – I’ll give them 5!
If you can tear yourself away from the Leawood, Overland Park, or the Plaza, check this place out. It’s worth the drive.