Salvatore "Sam" Garozzo, the congenial nephew of restaurateur Mike Garozzo, took over this Independence location formerly run by his uncle and father. A comfortable, intimate trattoria, Sams place offers a few signature items, including a garlic-broiled Tuscan filet and thin-crust St. Louis-style pizza as well as excellent salads, veal dishes and five variations on the broiled chicken innovation known as spiedini. The most decadent dish on the menu is a hunk of beef tenderloin stuffed with lobster in a white wine sauce. But for big eaters on a budget, theres a hefty Three-Way Pasta loaded with ravioli, spaghetti and mostaccioli topped with a fat meatball or Italian sausage. — Charles Ferruzza
Tucked between the Plaza and Westport, the Levee has been around since 1965. It tends to attract a young, buttoned-up crowd, but the vibe is friendly and even rowdy. There are multiple rooms that can double as event spaces, but it's the upstairs bar that tends to be the hub of the action. The Levee has late-night live music on the ground-level that often gets the booties bumpin' and drinks flowin'. House bands include the Good Foot and AZ-One, a reggae cover band that pairs well with the long-standing Thursday-night Red Stripe special. A good spot for happy hour, this KC institution right off Main Street is reasonably priced and is suitable for the pickiest of bar hoppers.