Familiar restaurant names and faces take residency in Parkville

  • During happy hour at the new Cafe Italia, a pizza calabrese topped with spinach, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, olives and feta, is offered for $9.95.

Somehow, miraculously, a few of the tropical fish in the big tank behind the bar in the former Shogun Japanese Steakhouse building at 601 English Landing Drive in downtown Parkville survived, even after the building sat empty for months. “I don’t know if the bigger fish ate the smaller fish or what,” one of the servers whispered to me. “But as soon as Guy and Paul took over the building, we got the surviving fish fed and everything in working order again.”

Guy and Paul – Guy Tamburello and Paul Anselmo, who operated the original Cafe Italian on North Oak Trafficway for 17 years – have turned the free-standing brick building into a far more attractive and comfortable trattoria than the original venue ever was, including a terrific outdoor patio. The new Cafe Italia opened last autumn.

Right next door, in the combination frame house and railway car that has been home to numerous short-lived restaurants over the last decade, a former tenant, Colombian-born restaurateur Alfonso “Pancho” Restropo, has returned to the same building, at 100 South Main, where he operated Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant from 1992 to 2003. Last year, his daughter Vicki encouraged Restropo to return to Kansas City when the space became vacant once again; Alfonso was living in Las Vegas. “Three weeks later, I had signed a lease and was getting to reopen the space with my wife and four children,” he says. Since the name Pancho’s was no longer available, Restropo renamed his business Pancho’s Villa. It opened in December.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink