Lazia isn’t your typical Italian joint. That much becomes clear the moment you realize you’re enjoying tendrils of house-made pasta to a bumping soundtrack of Common and Nas, not a note of Frank Sinatra in earshot.
Located in the posh new Crossroads Hotel, the restaurant is named for old-school KC mafia boss and pal of Tom Pendergast, Johnny Lazia. But its approach is thoroughly modern, blending together Italian and hip hop influences.
Outside the dinner-only spot, a bustling crowd is congregated at XR, the hotel’s trendy all-day lounge for dining and drinking. The din dies down as you cross over into Lazia, where candlesticks melting down into puddles of wax cast a soft, almost eerie, glow.
Like the rest of the hotel it inhabits, Lazia mixes high-end design elements, such as floor-to-ceiling curtains and a spectacularly delicate chandelier, with a more undone aesthetic. Walls and columns sport a deliberately unfinished look that makes the space feel like a glamorous mansion fallen into even more glamorous disrepair.
The intimate bar sits near the entrance, pumping out a few classic Italian cocktails, like an Aperol spritz and a take on a Negroni, as well as a selection of potent whiskey-based concoctions. Lazia also boasts an eclectic wine list (along with sommeliers to help you navigate it).
Shortly after drinks are dropped off, an amuse bouche arrives unannounced: this night it’s a fried ball of smoked trout and a lightly seared scallop served with a swirl of jellied egg yolk and a light pesto. The server explains the dish is something the kitchen has been toying with, as is serving the accompanying loaf of house-made focaccia whole, encouraging guests to literally break bread together.
That willingness to experiment keeps an evening at Lazia interesting. The restaurant underwent a few rounds of menu revisions before welcoming guests at the end of November, and the executive chef Remy Ayesh and company seem ready and willing to continue adjusting their recipe for a Crossroads hotspot.
This iteration of the menu features a carefully edited selection of antipasti, salads, and seafood starters, including the Sea Bream Tartare. Chunks of the light white fish are deliciously balanced out by citrus from blood orange oil and peach vinegar, spice courtesy of Calabrian chili and crunchy morsels of macadamia nut.
Among the entrees served are several steaks cured in-house along with dishes designed for splitting. Guests can also dig into the aptly named F***in’ Delicious Chicken, chicken thighs served over a focaccia and celery heart panzanella with chicken jus, one of the items that survived the menu’s retooling. The night’s special makes use of XR’s massive wood-fired oven, where branzino is roasted whole then served with the fillet plated alongside the fried-fish skeleton.
Of course, no self-respecting Italian menu would be complete without pasta, and Lazia doesn’t disappoint. The decadent bacon and egg carbonara has already become a guest favorite with its blend of testun con grappa, pecorino, Parmesan, and guanciale cream, with an egg yolk on top for good measure. But don’t sleep on the La Mare, a cuttlefish ink spaccatelli with sumptuous pieces of baby octopus, squid, and clams served with saffron cream and Calabrian chili. The generous portion is striking to the eye and on the palate, packing a surprising amount of heat—it’s not for the faint of heart.
Dessert options include a daily selection of gelatos and sorbettos and an impressive tiramisu, which gets a flavor kick courtesy of ladyfingers soaked in J. Rieger’s Caffé Amaro, a tasty hybrid of coffee liqueur and amaro, as well as a light Swiss meringue and a sprinkling of crunchy, buttery toffee.
At least that’s what’s on the menu for now. Given Lazia’s willingness to take risks and try new things at this early stage, there’s no telling what exactly might come next. But we’re excited to find out.