West Bottoms Lucky Boys dive bar owner opens pizzeria just two buildings away

Fortunati's Pep Boi and Spicy Sausage Pizzas / Photo Taken By Tyler Shane

When Lucky Boys (1615 Genessee st., KCMO) added homemade pizza to its menu during the pandemic, the specialty menu item (available only on Tuesdays and Thursdays) became an instant hit. But the West Bottoms dive bar’s small kitchen didn’t lend itself well to large production. Owner Justin Norcross’ solution? Open a pizzeria just two buildings down from Lucky Boys. Fortunati (1623 Genessee St. KCMO), the masculine translation of ‘lucky’ in Italian, opened just last week and slings the popular hand tossed pies Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. 

The pizzas are similar to a New York style. They have a thin crust and keep it traditional with topping staples – pepperoni and jalapenos, vodka sauce and spicy sausage, roasted veggies with a cream sauce and more. However, whereas New York style crust is typically light and blonde with a chewy texture, Fortunati’s dough is more aromatic, nuttier and has an overall more bold flavor. 

Marion Milling flour and a massive 1950s diving arm mixer helps with this process. Unlike a typical standing mixer attached with a dough hook, the diving arm mixer closer emulates the action of kneading dough by hand with one’s forearm “which builds better proteins.” 

“I’m shooting for a heavier protein content, a lot more color, longer bake time and richer, breadier flavor in the dough,” Norcross says. “The one place where I think I can make the biggest impact, or create something that I can’t just buy anywhere else, is focusing on what the bulk of pizza is, which is the dough.”

If you’ve had Lucky Boys’ pizza, you can expect a few “tweeks” to the recipe. 

“It’s been a process but I’m reworking the dough recipe and schedule to kind of emulate what we were doing at Lucky Boys but [trying] to pull that off in a completely different environment.”

The Lucky Boys sister business seats about eighteen to twenty people, but carry out and online ordering for delivery are available here. Six pie flavors currently grace the menu and eventually the neighboring gravel lot next to Fortunati will be turned into a patio.

Norcross is a longtime member of KC’s restaurant world. 

“My mom has worked at Strouds since I was three, I’ve grown up in the KC food scene my entire life,” says the bar owner turned pizzaiolo. Having worked in notable spots like Farm to Market Bread and Local Pig, the bar owner’s background lends itself well to pizza making, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that he began to explore it. 

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