Why I can’t stop going back for more of this ‘weird’ pizza in Kansas City

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After a day of moving, I finally had the chance to experience dining in Kansas City.

After I arrived from Texas late on a Thursday in October, I woke up the next day and decided to make a quick stop at Starbucks before heading to my new apartment in the West Bottoms to meet the movers.

After several hours, I found myself feeling completely drained and famished.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon Fortunati Pizza conveniently located just across the street from Hy-Vee Arena. Despite its modest appearance with a small building and an unassuming Fortunati sign, there is a charming little neon pizza sign nestled in the corner of one of its windows.

Inside the unassuming exterior, the real treasure lies within – the enchantment of a truly exceptional pizza. Amidst the array of options, there was one that truly captivated me: the baked potato pizza – a culinary creation that was entirely new to my eyes.

The pizza has a delectable combination of white sauce, mozzarella cheese, and thick-sliced bacon. It is also adorned with sliced potatoes and a flavorful sour cream n’ onion dust.

The sourdough crust truly complements the baked potatoes, making it my go-to order. It’s undeniably the most delicious way to enjoy a baked potato.

I have a weakness for indulging in a 12-inch pizza all by myself. There’s just something incredibly comforting about sinking my teeth into a warm, cheesy slice, especially after a long week at work or when I’m simply too tired to cook.

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Justin Norcross, one of the individuals involved in the opening of the restaurant last summer, shared that his friend Nick Vella, the previous owner of Observation Pizza on the West Side until his passing in 2020, introduced him to the concept of using potatoes as a topping for pizza.

Vella’s family hails from Malta, a picturesque island nation in the Mediterranean. In this country, just like in Italy, it is perfectly normal to have potatoes as a topping on pizza.

Norcross quickly became convinced and his skepticism disappeared.

As soon as I took a bite, I knew this pizza was something special,” he exclaimed. “It surpassed all my expectations and completely redefined what I considered to be good pizza.”

There are only six pizza options available on the menu, which includes a spicy sausage variety with vodka sauce, and a Pep Boi topped with pepperoni, hot honey, and jalapeno. In addition, the restaurant offers custom-made pizza. Norcross mentioned that the menu might undergo changes as the business expands. The baked potato pie is priced at $18 for a 12-inch and $22 for a 16-inch.

The restaurant originated from Norcross’s endeavor to make pizzas for his loved ones during the initial stages of the pandemic. Subsequently, he and his business partners introduced pizza parties on Tuesday and Thursday nights at their establishment, Lucky Boys. The overwhelming success and popularity of their pizza prompted them to open a dedicated pizzeria just two doors away.

“We simply found ourselves thinking, why not give it a shot?” Norcross explained. “We decided to present this idea that initially stemmed from a place of necessity and share it with others.”

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Fortunati, a name that means “lucky” in Italian, is the perfect match for the bar’s ambiance. You can find this charming establishment at 1623 Genessee St. Operating from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays, Fortunati welcomes its patrons with open arms.

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