Kansas City has a rich Italian history. For many decades in the mid-1900s, Italian communities were at the center of our commercial industries and small businesses. The cultural impact they had on Kansas City is significant, and one area where this is extremely noticeable is pizza in Kansas City.
KC pizza has so much to offer. There are mom-and-pop shops offering delicious takes on varying styles of pizza. These pies are unique and tasty, and you can find them all over Kansas City. There’s pizza in the River Market, on 39th Street and in Waldo. There’s pizza in the Kansas suburbs and Missouri suburbs. North, south, east and west — there are good pizza places in Kansas City no matter where you are.
This guide to KC pizza will put you on the right track to find the perfect pie.
A Brief History of Pizza
Pizza has to be one of humankind’s pinnacle achievements, right? It’s a nearly perfect food. And pizza’s origin story isn’t what you think. Obviously, pizza is an Italian dish. But it was America, not Italy, that sent it skyrocketing to the top of the world’s food scene.
Pizza was conceived in Italy, and it was a working-class food. The blue-collar laborers of Naples needed something cheap and filling. Pizza fit the bill. It wasn’t popular with the top class of Italy, however. Italian authors of the time called it a “disgusting” food.
Americans would gladly pick up what the elite residents of Naples sluffed off. Italian immigrants brought pizza with them, and it became a sensation. The first recorded pizza joint was in New York City. Americans quickly claimed pizza for our own, making it a commonplace meal. The majority of Italy didn’t claim the dish as their own until well after Americans were serving slices by the thousands.
Today, there are hundreds of thousands of pizza restaurants spread out across the country.
Where to Find Pizza Restaurants in Kansas City
KC pizza never developed its own signature style like the thin-crusted New York pizza or deep-dish Chicago pies. Instead, you can find a little bit of everything in the Kansas City pizza scene.
Waldo Pizza has been serving up slices for more than 30 years at 7433 Broadway Boulevard on the south side of Kansas City. This is a KC pizza institution with a creative menu. It shouldn’t be your first stop if you are looking for a traditional Italian pie. But if you are looking for a mouth-watering meal from a local business, Waldo Pizza has you covered.
From Waldo, you can head north to pizza places in Kansas City like d’Bronx. This old-school deli has been serving New York-style pizza and sandwiches on 39th Street for more than 25 years. Look for the big blue awning on the corner building — you can’t miss it.
Keep moving toward downtown and you’ll find The Art of Pizza. Like d’Bronx, The Art of Pizza also serves New York-style pies. You can find this KC pizza shop on 18th Street, just off Baltimore in the heart of the Crossroads. Make sure to check out the daily specials to get the best deal.
On the other side of downtown, you can find Minsky’s Pizza in the historic City Market. Minsky’s has been around Kansas City for more than 40 years and has several locations. They serve thick, cheesy slices of goodness, and you can’t afford to miss it.
And for that 1 a.m. slice of perfection, there may be no better place in the world than Joe’s Pizza. This Kansas City, Mo., pizza joint is located in the heart of Westport, attached to the back of Kelly’s Westport Inn. You can buy a massive slice of thin-crust pizza for only a couple bucks. And while you’re there, you might as well take part in a Joe’s tradition that is a first for many people: dip your pizza in honey. We know, it sounds weird. Just try it and thank us later.
This barely scratches the surface of KC pizza. There are so many more pizza restaurants in Kansas City, and we’ll get to those in just a second. First, there’s a KC pizza tradition you need to know about.
KC Pizza Week
KC Pizza Week is the perfect time to try as many pizza joints as you can. This annual tradition is hosted by The Pitch, Kansas City’s weekly alternative magazine. Participating restaurants serve 10-inch specialty pizzas for $8 for a whole week. A good variety of Kansas City pizza places join in each year. Check with The Pitch for details on the upcoming KC Pizza Week.
More Pizza in Kansas City
If you zoom out far enough on a map of the whole Kansas City metro area, you’ll probably find more pizza places than the casual diner could ever hope to try. Here are several of those pizza places in KC:
- Milwaukee Deli
- Il Lazzarone
- 1889 Pizza Napoletana
- Pizza Bar
- Grinders Pizza
- Chiusano’s Brick Oven Pizzeria
- Caddy Shack
- Square Pizza
- Pizza 51
- Papa Keno’s
- Old Shawnee Pizza
- Johnny Jo’s Pizzeria
- Rosati’s Pizza
- Trezo Mare
- Pizza Shoppe
Good luck getting to all these shops. There’s so much pizza in KCMO. Get out there and order a slice!