By Kevin Collison
It’s off the beaten path, tucked in a still gritty industrial corner of the East Crossroads next to Tension Envelope, but once you spot the bright Italian colors emblazoned on the cinder-block building, your taste buds will remember the way.
“Once people find us, they know where we are,” said John David DiCapo, co-owner of Italian Gardens Pizza at 901 E. 19th St.
A descendent of the famed Italian Gardens restaurant, a downtown destination at 1110 Baltimore from 1933 to 2003, the Crossroads building had been used to prepare wholesale foods and bake Italian cookies for the past 21 years.
But beginning this year, DiCapo and his father, Carl DiCapo, a longtime civic leader who’s now 93, began serving customers all kinds of dishes from Sicilian-style pan pizza to chicken spedini, spaghetti and meatballs, chili dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and yes, cookies.
They hired Chad Baber to manage the place. He once managed the former Cashew, now the Rockhill Grille.
“We grew up with the Italian Gardens and we have it in our blood,” John DiCapo said.
“Chad owned several bars and restaurants in Kansas City and has lots of concepts. We’re hoping we’ll make a lot of money together.”
One initiative due to roll out in about a month is the return of “Jim’s Famous Hot Tamales,” a popular item DiCapo sold wholesale for years. The plan calls for the tamales to be a Saturday-only treat.
And the DiCapos are working to raise the profile of their place, millennial style, adding a mural to the exterior of an Italian flag with golden wings spreading behind people posing for their Instagram pics.
Hours are Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. As for Jim’s Hot Tamale Saturdays, those hours haven’t been determined yet. People are urged to check the website.
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The pizza and cookies are great! I look forward to trying the rest of the food.
It was a special treat to visit with Carl DiCapo for a little while. It is not every day you run into an Icon of Kansas City.
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