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V's Italiano Ristorante
10819 East Highway 40, Independence, 816-353-1241, vsrestaurant.com
Amore? A classic 1960s Italian restaurant with an arbor of plastic grapes and the best early-bird dinner deal in town
Signature pie: The Super Deluxe, topped with mushrooms, sliced Italian sausage, pepperoni, hamburger, fresh onion, and black olives
Noteworthy deal: The 7-inch personal pizza is, at $7.95, available during the dinner hour but not listed on the dinner menu.
Toppings: Seafood pesto pizza with crab, shrimp, sautéed spinach and garlic on a white-wine sauce
By the slice: No
The Totta family's pizza recipe is old-school New York Italian: a very thin crust smothered with house-made tomato sauce.
7433 Broadway, 816-363-5242
1543 Northeast Douglas, Lee's Summit, 816-875-2121, waldopizza.net
Amore? This is the Harry S. Truman of local pizza.
Signature pie: Eating the he-man Choice Cut — Scimeca's Italian sausage, bacon, pepperoni, hamburger and Canadian bacon (add spicy beef) — is like doing a set of dumbbell curls.
Noteworthy deal: Various coupons and daily specials, plus that buffet
Toppings: If you've ever hankered to try figs, turkey sausage or taco sauce on a pizza, Waldo is the only place in KC it's going to happen.
By the slice: Yes, if you're here for the buffet, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday–Saturday
Delivery: Yes, and pretty much anywhere in the city, for a sliding-scale fee
Price: $7.50 buys a 10-inch cheese pie; a 16-inch specialty goes for $25
There's no getting bored with the menu at Phil Bourne's KC institution. Waldo's expansive beer list is constantly refined, the place's gluten-free crust has caught on big in a short time, and the pizzas balance well-executed staples (the sausage is Scimeca's) with more exotic choices that reward experimentation. To wit: a wheat-crust pie with spinach and Roma tomatoes and cheddar, excellent for dinner and good again cold for breakfast.
2820 West 47th Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas, 913-281-9000, wheatstatepizza.com
Amore? Ah, Kansas.
Signature pie: The aggressive-sounding "Strangler" asks you to choke down chicken, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, bacon, red onions, mushrooms and a three-cheese blend.
Noteworthy deal: Coupons on the website
By the slice: No
Price: $10 for a small pizza, about $45 for a "Gorilla," which sounds big.
It's a sleazy feeling, the urge to order Papa John's during NFL season. You think: No, I am not going to put money in Camaro-loving, Romney-boosting John H. Schnatter's pocket. Well, here's how you beat the sleaze. Wheat State's doughy crust, pleasantly nondescript sauce and indiscriminate deployment of mozzarella add up to a strong simulacrum of red-state chain product. Which we mean as a compliment, at least during the crucial first five minutes of pizza rage. (As though you need more than five minutes. Please.)