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Chiusano's Brick Oven Pizzeria
1713 Village West Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas, 913-299-8787, chiusanospizza.com
Amore? Offbeat and unexpected topping choices
Signature pie: The KC Chiefs Cheesesteak, with sliced sirloin, green pepper, caramelized onion, mushrooms, cheddar and mozzarella.
Noteworthy deal: A slice of cheese pizza costs $3, but you can get a 9-inch cheese pizza for $7.
Toppings: Elk sausage, brie cheese, Thai pepper peanut sauce, and duck foie gras
By the slice: Yes, but not all of the featured pizzas are offered by the slice.
This independently owned pizzeria is surrounded by acres of chain restaurants. Owner Robert Borberg is proud of his oven — a round, candy-apple-red Remco Millennium 2000 that evokes something out of Blade Runner. The "brick" part of the oven is a heavy, round fired object that mechanically rotates inside the oven at a properly crust-scorching temperature.
616 Ward Parkway, 816-912-2690, coalvines.com
Amore? The dining room is dark and sexy at night, particularly in the balmy months when the windows facing Brush Creek are open.
Signature pie: The White Pizza, topped with mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and oregano.
Noteworthy deal: In addition to the regular menu, there are daily pasta, pizza and seafood specials.
Toppings: The list isn't very extensive, considering the pretensions of this Plaza pizzeria.
By the slice: No
Coal Vines' pizzas are visually pretty here, but as they say in Italy, L'abito non fa il monaco — the cowl does not make the monk.
3904 Bell, 816-531-0550; other locations, see dbronxkc.com
Amore? Off the chart
Signature pie: It all starts with the plain cheese pizza ...
Noteworthy deal: ... which is big (16 inches) but only about $14 with tax.
Toppings: This is where big, grindery meatballs really know how to ball.
By the slice: Yes
Price: From $2.85 cheese slice to $75 for a 30-inch "party" size with a butcher's block of meat on it
Nothing in this cruel, bitter life is certain, but a d'Bronx pizza racks up three facts you can count on: a crisp yet buttery crust, a tangy sauce and smartly proportioned cheese. Is it fair to count these items separately? Is it blasphemy to dissect a little miracle, as though such a thing can be understood? Not everywhere, no. But here, yes, where crust and sauce and cheese make a holy trinity, and we can't remember a slice ever letting us down.
Fun House Pizza & Pub
9120 East 350 Highway, Raytown, 816-356-5141, funhousepizza.com
Amore? Big with kids' sports teams, smokers, and Raytown alumni
Signature pie: Polish and Kraut (Polish sausage and sauerkraut) and the BLT (bacon, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes)
Noteworthy deal: On Thursday, all large pizzas come with a pitcher of soda.
Toppings: Very kid-friendly; few vegetarian selections outside the norm
By the slice: No, but mini pizzas are available for lunch.
Delivery: Raytown only
Price: A small cheese costs $8.55, while a large Big Daddy (ham, pepperoni, Italian sausage, olives, green pepper, onion, tomatoes and beef) costs $21.39.
Much like a trip to Fun House, eating Fun House pizza is a little messy, heavy on sensory overload and surprisingly gratifying. Locals pack the long, family-style tables for pies that hang over the edge of the dish. The crust is crisp on the bottom, with toppings piled high. Pizzas are called out from the counter, so listen closely when the joint is packed. While you wait, kick back with a cold $2.50 domestic draft, watch the kids on the coin-operated horse, and recall the good ol' days when a trip to the pizza parlor with the fam was as good as it got.