Local Italian restaurants have been hitting the road.

Move It, Bambino 

Local Italian restaurants have been hitting the road.

With his new restaurant Gia's (see review), Frank Macaluso isn't the only longtime Kansas City restaurateur making news downtown. The Cascone family -- Frank, George and their sister, Mary Lou Treece -- opened the doors to the new Cascone's Grill at 17 East Fifth Street two weeks ago. After three decades across the street in a 42-seat diner inside the City Market, the siblings took over a much bigger space (it seats nearly 100), installing red-leatherette booths and a TV. Even bigger news: The longtime cash-only business now accepts Visa and MasterCard.

The menu hasn't changed at all, and the open kitchen still has most of the equipment from the old place. The beloved old stainless-steel Curtis Lo-Boil coffee tureen has been replaced by a fancy new model, though.

"It's OK," said one of the restaurant's servers with a shrug. "Some of the customers don't think the coffee tastes exactly the same."

The new venue is the fourth for the family business, which started as a three-stool diner in the 1930s. Sam and Vita Cascone, parents of the current owners, moved the restaurant to the City Market neighborhood in 1955.

On the subject of moving, the rumor that Frank Bushek and his wife, Terry Mason, are looking for new digs for their successful Altizio's Italian Restaurant (10142 West 119th Street in Overland Park) is true. The restaurant, located in the Highland Plaza Shopping Center, will stay put until early next year. "We have too many holiday parties booked to even think of moving before that," Mason says. After January, though, the plan is to turn the Highland Plaza space into a pizza joint and move the more upscale Altizio's into bigger quarters. Bushek would like to move the restaurant farther south to, say, 151st Street, but Mason is worried that they'll lose their midtown customers by moving too far into the suburbs.

"We haven't seen any location yet that we're really in love with," Mason says.

The Altizio's kitchen continues to be run by charismatic New Yorker Mike Saluzzi, who just introduced several new dishes. Fans of Saluzzi's extravagant cooking style should swoon over the new Chicken Bella Mama (a boneless chicken breast baked with buffalo mozzarella in a sweet shiitake-mushroom sauce) and Lasagna Fantasia, for which hand-rolled lasagna towers are stuffed with dungeness crab, then baked in a shrimp-bisque reduction and dappled with caviar-coated goat cheese.

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