Forty-five seconds into a minute-long plank, as your trainer counts down the time and your sweat pools under your face, you remember why you're really working out. So you can eat more pizza.
This is the last day, you tell yourself, the third of three breakfast-lunch-dinner-snack pizzathons. You and your colleagues are taking on slice after pie after slab, tasting the familiar along with the new. You're wondering how Savannah, Georgia, sneaked onto Travel + Leisure's "Best Cities for Pizza" list two spots ahead of Kansas City. (We're No. 10.) You're thinking you need to eat a lot of salad for the rest of your life.
Together you're trying to eat all the pizza in the metro, and together you're experiencing the same symptoms of what's now a full-on bender. First there was bliss (pizza all the time!). Then disbelief (more? I just flossed!). Today: a nagging shortness of breath and the occasional blackout.
It's worth it. Because you've found proof of what you always knew: In Kansas City, you're never farther than a mile or two from a good pizza. Sometimes, in fact, you're a short walk from a great pizza, a pizza that defies the usual taxonomy - is this New York-style? St. Louis? Why doesn't anyone around here do Providence? - and establishes its own identity. There's no KC-style pizza in Savannah, and that's fine. We've got all the KC-style pizza right here. (All of it except the one that got away, the one we figure you'll tell us about.)
All Star Pizza & Pub
6100 Northwest 63rd Terrace, 816-587-6000, allstarpizzaandpub.com
Amore? Craft-beer and pizza lovers' refuge in the Northland
Signature pie: The Dot.com Special — a weekly selection from creations suggested on the restaurant's website
Noteworthy deal: A salad and mini pizza with two toppings for $7 (11 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday–Friday)
Toppings: Bait (white anchovies), sweet-pepper-pesto and roasted-garlic-butter sauces, grilled squash, avocado and sun-dried tomatoes.
By the slice: No
Price range: A small cheese costs $8, while a large Ultra Mega Combo Supreme is $24.
All Star's bar is inviting, running the length of the restaurant, beneath a ceiling filled with upside-down umbrellas from sports teams. Go for the beer list — 31 taps plus another 10 that will be installed soon — but you'll be ordering pizzas after seeing them come out of the kitchen. The pub pizza is closer to flatbread, with the Thai Pie (a homemade peanut sauce and red-chili chicken) and the Shrimpy (grilled shrimp and chorizo in a jalapeño cream sauce) regularly appearing on plates. The classic pizza has house-made red sauce and a fair bit of grease, but it grows on you after another round.
The Art of Pizza
1801 Baltimore, 816-421-1888, theartofpizzakc.com
Amore? For Art of Pizza fans, a long wait never matters.
Signature pie: The Meataholic, topped with pepperoni, sausage, ham and ground beef, is not for the faint of artery.
Noteworthy deal: All-you-can-eat pasta on Mondays for $5.95
Toppings: Feta is as exotic as Art gets.
By the slice: Yes
Price: From $15.95 for an 18-inch cheese to $22.95 for the Meataholic
This Crossroads pie joint is home to tortured pizza-maker Victor Almo, whose pies reflect his mood swings. When Almo is content, his pizza lives up to the claims that this is the city's best New York–style version. Other days, an order of crackling garlic knots is best. Roll the dice with a $12 carryout special on Fridays (order between 4 and 6 p.m. every week except First Fridays).
11924 West 119th Street, Overland Park, 913-663-4099
16649 Midland Drive, Shawnee, 913-268-5160, barleysbrewhaus.com
Amore? People come for the beer first and the pizza ... not quite first.
Signature pie: The Windy City is the only pizza on the menu.
Noteworthy deal: Plan your pie around whatever beer special is available that day.
Toppings: Meat is a smart choice for the sake of structural integrity.
By the slice: No
Price: $19 (one ingredient) and up
Chicago-style pizza is on few local menus and is done well by even fewer restaurants. The crust on the version at Barley's, light brown and tantalizingly flaky around the top, suggests that someone in the kitchen here knows the basics. But the heavy, chunky sauce and the pie's inner architecture stray from what a purist demands without compensating with strong flavors. On the other hand, you can drink a lot of beer — good beer, given that this is Barley's — in the 40 minutes it takes to bake one of these bastards, by which time this pizza is about cushioning. And claiming to be a purist about Chicago pizza in a KC bar is a dick move anyway.