Restaurant ​Review: Cupini’s

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Perhaps you’re a Kansas City insider who knows where to find the best eats. Or perhaps you tuned into season 18, episode nine of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” entitled “Pork, Pasta and Barbeque.” Either way, you’ve probably heard of the Westport staple, Cupini’s, that serves up glorious Italian fare.

I found Cupini’s on my quest to find the perfect carbonara. Most American iterations of the dish add things like peas or mushrooms to the pasta – and while there’s nothing wrong with those ingredients, I was desperate to find a restaurant in Kansas City that came close to the true Roman version.

After several disappointing phone calls with other local Italian restaurants that either didn’t have carbonara on the menu or served only the American version, I began to lose hope. Hungry and almost ready to give up on my search, I called one last place. Of course they have carbonara, the man on the phone told me, they would have my to-go order ready in 15 minutes.

Cupini’s had my food prepared faster than I could get there. When picking up my order, the dessert case called my name – it seems I had no choice but to grab some cannolis for the road. I drove home as fast as legally possible to try the dish I had searched so long to find. I beheld it in all its glory: linguine topped with red onions, pancetta, black pepper and white sauce made with egg.

With that first bite came a love for Cupini’s to which I will forever be committed.

Franco Cupini was born in Rome, Italy and frequently travels back for inspiration for his dishes. He and his son, Eddie, opened Cupini’s in 2003 with a goal to deliver fresh, flavorful pasta to the Kansas City community. In the past 16 years they have been incredibly successful in doing just that. In keeping with their mission, you can buy Cupini’s fresh-made pasta and sauces at their restaurant to make your favorite dish at home.

Not only is the fresh, scratch-made pasta insanely delicious – and available in most any type of noodle you can dream up – it’s affordable too. The average pasta dish on Cupini’s menu will cost you around $10 with enough on the plate to last you two reasonably portioned meals – that is, if you have the self-control to save leftovers. If you aren’t in the mood for their out-of-this-world pasta, the restaurant has other dishes – including pizzas, paninis and various entrees – that are sure to delight.

Photo by Cassie Hayes

Another of my favorite Cupini’s dishes is the chicken and prosciutto tortellini. The perfectly made tortellini are filled to the brim with a well-balanced mixture of chicken and prosciutto then covered in a creamy marinara sauce. One bite of this dish will leave you disappointed you didn’t order two portions.

If you’re in the mood for a rich pasta dish, order the porcini fettuccine – fettuccine noodles in cream sauce with porcini mushrooms, red onions and bacon. Mushrooms are the only food I’ve come across that I don’t like, and this dish made me reconsider my previous disdain for the ingredient.

It’s not a trip to Cupini’s without ordering one of their mouth-watering desserts. The desserts are made by Chef Ishmael and are necessary additions to any Cupini’s meal. In addition to their delectable cannolis – pastry shells filled with sweet ricotta and chocolate chips then topped with powdered sugar – all of their desserts are well worth the indulgence. The restaurant’s tiramisu will, despite the generous serving size, always leave you wanting more of the coffee-infused Italian dessert.

Photo by Cassie Hayes

Since its inception, the restaurant has expanded to offer catering – voted “Best Catering of 2018” in The Pitch – and cooking classes that include a four course meal and take-home recipe cards. Additionally, Franco Cupini often takes food lovers and Cupini’s fans with him on a food tour of Italy to see for themselves the wonders of the Italian culinary world.

From the time of my first bite of Cupini’s to every meal since, not one of my visits fails to please. Everything I have tried at the restaurant is scrumptious and filling. With dishes like chicken and prosciutto tortellini, lasagna and ravioli on the menu, I would be thoroughly surprised if someone told me they left Cupini’s dissatisfied. The restaurant also offers gluten free and vegetarian options to aid in their effort of spreading their delicious food to the masses.

When you visit Cupini’s, be sure to snag a table in their alleyway. The inside of the restaurant has a great ambiance as well, but there’s something about sitting under string lights, surrounded by painted walls and light dinner music that transports you from the Cupini’s alleyway in Westport to a small eatery in Europe. That, after all, is what the restaurant is all about: giving its midwest clientele the taste and experience of Italy.

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