What’s new in KC food and drink: January 2024

An East Coast-style wine bar opens in Brookside

Ryan and Jenny Sciara opened Underdog Wine Co., a wine shop in Brookside’s Crestwood Shops, almost a decade ago. Now, the husband and wife duo are dipping their toes into a new venture—Vita’s Place, an East Coast-inspired wine bar located just a few shops down from their flagship store (5514 Oak St., KCMO).

“After I went to New York, I became obsessed with doing a small neighborhood wine bar in Kansas City because we really don’t have one, outside of Ça Va and Vintage ’78,” Ryan says.

Vita’s Place, named after Ryan’s Italian paternal grandmother, opened in December and features a menu with more than 200 wines. The top floor seats 34 while the basement will seat 20.

“It’s going to be tight,” says Ryan, who wanted a small space to create the feel of a neighborhood bar one might stumble upon in New York or Boston.

With the help of designer and carpenter John O’Brien, who also designed Bacaro Primo, Earl’s Premier and Golden Ox, you’d never know the wine bar was a former hair salon. It looks as if it’s been sitting in the Crestwood Shops strip for years with its rustic dark wooden bar complete with a mustard-yellow subway tile backsplash from local ceramicist Andy Brayman. Pops of brass along the bar and lighting fixtures give its tattered East Coast vibes a polished look.

Vita’s menu overwhelmingly consists of wine, with the exception of Ryan’s personal favorite spirits like gin. Customers will be able to build their own gin and tonics and spritzes.

“I’m adamant that we stay true to being a wine bar,” Ryan says. “I don’t want to become a craft cocktail bar. We’ve got plenty of those. We can make a Manhattan, we can make an old fashioned, but it’s really more about wine-based cocktails like negronis, boulevardiers, plus spritzes.”

The food menu is small but substantial with Italian, Spanish and French influences. 

A Beer Garden is coming to Berkley Riverfront Park

Berkley Riverfront Park has several new developments in the works, including a new beer garden. The Origin Hotel, a boutique five-story hotel, is expected to be finished in 2024, and as of last month, developers broke ground on a new beer garden.

The beer garden, Two Birds, One Stone, will be stationed on the waterfront directly across from the Origin Hotel. Expected to open in the summer of 2024, Two Birds, One Stone is a nearly 8,200-square-foot, two-story structure housed on a portion of the park known as The Grove.

Two Birds, One Stone’s design will use “simple and refined building materials immersing the visitor into the park atmosphere,” according to Port KC. Along with the new beer garden, The Grove will also see extensive new native landscaping and tree plantings.

“The beer garden will offer more outdoor food and entertainment options to residents in the Riverfront neighborhood and Kansas City visitors looking for more outdoor entertainment,  and [it] offers convenient options for both Riverfront event attendees and Origin Hotel guests planning their entertainment, sporting and vacation trips,” the developers say.

Popular chef-driven Food Hall opens third location at a Plaza Hotel

The popular Strang Chef Collective continues to expand, opening a third food hall on the Country Club Plaza with four diverse, chef-driven spots to eat.

The new site opened inside the Marriott’s Cascade Hotel, a boutique hotel that’s part of a $105 million two-hotel development (4600 Wornall Rd., KCMO).

Strang Chef Collective also operates downtown Overland Park’s Strang Hall and Strang Chef Collective at Lightwell. “With exciting flavors from around the world, every location captures unique chef-driven concepts that you can’t find elsewhere in town,” states a Strang Hall Instagram post.

The 11,000-square-foot, two-story space features two full-service bars and four innovative and fresh food vendors—Parma, Gasthaus, Verde and Khai-noy—offering something for everyone.

Parma’s menu is inspired by Tuscany, Sicily and Italy’s coastal regions and serves house-made pasta. Gasthaus is led by chef Bruce Dunseith and, according to a Strang Instagram post, is “geared toward German cuisine with some traditional American dishes.”

Verde showcases Latin-American flavors with menu items like elote salads topped with jerk chicken and loaded tacos.

Chef Chris Jones from Anousone, Strang Hall’s flagship location in Overland Park, helms Khai-noy. Meaning “little egg” in Lao, the food stall is inspired by Southeast Asian cuisine and serves dishes like pork belly platters, chilaquiles, curry fried rice and purple ube cookies.

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