❖ After months of delays, Laura Norris has at last reopened Italian eatery Ragazza at a new location just off the Plaza (4301 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.). The new space offers 96 seats — a huge jump from the 40 seats at the original location — and features an expanded menu. Be sure to try the Tuscan chingale ragu, the braised lamb with mushroom risotto and the eggplant fries.
❖ After 55 years of filet mignon and lobster tails, Plaza III Steakhouse closed last year to make room for the March opening of veggie-driven True Food Kitchen (4749 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, Mo., truefoodkitchen.com). True Food comes from Phoenix-based restaurateur Sam Fox, whose many projects include North Italia in Leawood. Oprah Winfrey is among its investors. The restaurant’s seasonal menu is based on the “anti-inflammatory food pyramid,” which translates into dishes like the vegan dashi ramen with sweet potato glass noodles and the spaghetti squash casserole.
❖ The Kansas City area has seen a huge influx of new breweries in the area over the past few months, which now includes the first brewpub in Shawnee, Transport Brewing (11113 Johnson Drive, Shawnee, Kan., transportbrewery.com). The tiny six-barrel system takes over a century-old stone building next to a historic theater in the heart of the city. The brewery is owned by four homebrew buddies, all of whom are contributing recipes ranging from an amber ale to a vanilla chai brown ale.
❖ Meanwhile, the Crossroads keeps getting sudsier with the opening of City Barrel Brewing (1740 Holmes St., Kansas City, Mo., 816-298-7008) in February. This ambitious project includes a taproom with seats for 125, a full food menu and on-trend beers such as a double dry-hopped hazy IPA. Check out the beer cocktails made with house brews.
❖ In February, the former Winslow’s BBQ space in the River Market was given new life as Alex Pope and Matt Kafka relocated their outdoor sandwich hut and butcher shop, the Local Pig and Pigwich (20 E. 5th St., Kansas City, Mo., thelocalpig.com) from the East Bottoms. The large, modern space has expanded offerings plus booze.
❖ In March, Percheron Rooftop Bar (2101 Central St., Kansas City, Mo., crossroadshotelkc.com) opened at the Crossroads Hotel, completing the trifecta of restaurants housed in the ambitious space (look for XR and Lazia on the ground floor). The restaurant sits five stories above the street and offers a perfect panorama of the downtown skyline along with a lighter menu than its sister restaurants.
❖ In late January, Crazy Crab & Seafood (3756 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, Mo., crazycrabkcmo.com) opened in the former Chubby’s space in Midtown. Oklahoma restaurateur Liming Zhang’s project features seafood boils sold by the pound with various spice blends, along with hushpuppies, fried shrimp and fried rice.
❖ Chef Brent Gunnels has worked in some of KC’s best kitchens, from Freshwater to Julep. He was also the early pizziola at Il Lazzarone, which figures in his newest project, a reboot of his backyard supper series Cult of Pi (www.pi.church). Gunnels is making wood-fired pizzas in his backyard during an event that is technically a Sunday church service, complete with “communion” wine and a collection plate. Reservations are necessary and mostly booked-out.
❖ If you’ve been looking for a reason to revisit the South Plaza’s classic Raphael Hotel, Chaz on the Plaza (325 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Mo., raphaelkc.com) has a new executive chef, Shawn Hartwig, who has revamped the menu without forgetting its roots. Enjoy a sumptuous crab Wellington or chicken cordon bleu for dinner, or stop in on Sundays for a jazz brunch.
❖ It broke our hearts when beloved Brookside eatery Plate closed two years ago due to a fire. At long last, Christian and Andrea Joseph are reopening their neighborhood Italian eatery on April 12. The new Plate space (701 E. 63rd St., Kansas City, Mo., platekc.com) will be considerably larger and will also boast a cocktail lounge that serves late-night small bites.