It’s been almost five years since my first and only trip to Italy. But every time Lady Akin and I eat dinner at Bella Napoli in Brookside (6229 Brookside Blvd.), we end up recounting the two-week trip.
“Remember the 400 photos you took of the Trevi fountain … Remember leaving the camera in the taxi five minutes after taking 400 photos at the Trevi fountain … Remember that neon-green olive oil … the guanciale pappardelle … the roasted chestnuts … Remember that guy who somehow conned you into a $45 gelato in Florence?” (Note: I do remember that guy who conned me into a $45 gelato in Florence. And if I ever see him again, I’m going to walk straight up to him and … probably get conned again because I’m a stupid American tourist.)
But dining at Bella Napoli is more than just the best-available facsimile of what we experienced in Italy; it’s some of the best Italian food in Kansas City. The staff is knowledgeable and personable. The dining room(s) are quirky (in a good way), meandering from the kitchen, through the dry goods, and into the cafe. But when the weather permits, we always eat at a sidewalk table.
Last Friday night, after a hard week of gluten-free living, both of us really wanted to get our bread on, so we ordered pizza and pasta and beer. The Capricciosa pizza might be my favorite in the city — perfectly chewy-crispy crust with tomato sauce, mozzarella, olives, artichokes, mushrooms, and prosciutto. The pasta special was “rigatoni on steroids” with arugula pesto, shrimp, and cherry tomatoes. And the beer was Moretti, with a frosty mug.
It was all so good it reminded me of this time in Italy …