Update: We’re sad to say Carlo’s Copa Room recently closed its doors after seven years. If you’re still craving, authentic Italian cuisine, check out USA Today’s list of best Italian restaurants in Kansas City.
Care to join us for dinner? We hope you’re in the mood for a delicious dining experience, because we’re on the hunt for the best food in Kansas City. From local eateries to original restaurants to swanky cafes, we’re prepared to try every specialty dish and dessert if we have to.
Our first stop is Italian cuisine in Lenexa, KS. Don’t be shy—dig in!
Where we went: Carlo’s Copa Room (14944 W. 87th Street Parkway Lenexa, KS 66215)
If Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. ever had the opportunity to dine in Lenexa, KS, now we know exactly where they would have gone for a good, old-fashioned Italian meal. While many Italian eateries claim to be authentic, Carlo’s Copa Room is actually run by Carlo himself with the help of his mother, Kathy Fiorello. Chef Fiorello runs the kitchen and cooks every delicious dish to order. So if you’re looking for fast food, you’re going to have to keep looking.
What we ate: Carlo’s Chicken Lemonata will send your taste buds on a flavor rollercoaster to lemon infinity and beyond. This chicken breast dish is served on top of noodles and slathered in a zesty lemon sauce. Of course, the meal wouldn’t be complete without a lemon on top.
If you like your pasta spicy rather than sweet, try the Shrimp Diablo. However, be prepared for a kick in the mouth—in a good way, of course! The spicy marinara sauce served with this dish is not for the faint of heart.
Can’t possibly prioritize your pasta? You won’t have to choose favorites with the “Frank, Dean & Sammy” dish. This Italian trifecta of chicken spiedini, homemade lasagna and creamy pasta Alfredo is triple the taste. Other fan favorites include just about any kind of spiedini (from pork chops to shrimp) and Ravioli (from toasted to seafood).
If you aren’t exactly pro-pasta, there are plenty of anti-pasta platters to satisfy your hunger as well. We’re talking shrimp scampi, fried meatballs and spicy calamari. Browse the menu for more options, including veal, steak and salmon.
Dessert strategists should opt for one of “Dean Martin’s Small Plates” so you’ll surely have room for something sweet. Every small plate—from the Seafood Ravioli to the Pork Chop Spiedini—is $15 or less so you won’t even feel bad splurging on Nani’s Homemade Cheesecake or a scoop of Italian Gelato. And you can’t end a true Italian meal without a cannoli or two!
Pro-tip: Score a lunch punch card and keep in mind Tuesdays are double punch days. Don’t forget to show your KC Originals card, either, and reap the rewards of dining at an independently-owned restaurant.
What we drank: You know the restaurant is going to be good when it has an entire menu dedicated to coffee. Whether you like your cup of joe with brandy, whiskey or simply a dash of whip cream, Carlo can hook you up.
Speaking of whiskey, score sweet—and savory—deals during Happy Hour, Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. We’re talking $2.00 appetizers and half-price wine, martinis, Bellinis, champagne and Long Islands depending on the night.
What we heard: Rumor has it that if you come on the right night, your spiedini dish may come with a side of Sinatra. Yes, more than likely if you drop in on a Saturday evening a live singer will serenade you while your taste buds dance with happiness.
If your carb-craving hits you at lunchtime, don’t worry you’ll still get your Sinatra fix. Paintings and photo collages of the Rat Pack speckle the walls while classic 40s tunes hum softly in the background of the dimly lit restaurant. The romantic mood is perfect for quiet conversation and, dare we say, a potential Lady and the Tramp spaghetti moment.
What we learned: Apparently Frank, Dean, Sammy and the rest of the Rat Pack used to frequent the original Copa Room in Las Vegas back in the day. In 2004, Carlo brought the “Copa concept” closer to home in Kansas City at 34th and Broadway. Then in 2008 he brought it even closer when he moved the restaurant to Lenexa. Now it’s never been more convenient for Italian enthusiasts to get their pasta and spiedini fix.
Have you tried Carlo’s Copa Room yet? Dish about your favorite Italian meal in the comments below.