A decade ago, John Milone was passing out free pizza to the businesses on 103rd Street between Wornall and State Line. Back then, he was cooking pies out of his apartment kitchen on 99th and Wornall. He needed 24 hours notice, because he delivered them at night after his day job as a car rental agency manager in Raymore, Missouri.
On May 6, Milone — who has run Johnny Jo’s Pizzeria (1209 W. 47th St.) on the West Plaza for the past two years — will be opening The Pizzeria at 516 West 103rd Street. The Pitch broke the news yesterday.
His new pizza shop, located in the former Rosati’s space in the same shopping plaza as Coach’s Bar & Grill, is a homecoming for Milone. He spent 11 years working for his godfather Leonard Mirabile at Marco Polo’s Italian Market (1201 West 103rd Street). And in 2006, this street was his proof of concept, as neighbors and business owners began ordering pies shortly after receiving his free half-cheese, half-Italian sausage creations.
“This is about going back to my roots. That’s where I started,” Milone says. “My family lives out there. That’s my home and I think it will be fun.”
While The Pizzeria will use the same recipes Milone developed from the cookbook of his late grandparents Richard and Nancy Milone, he’s adamant that opening a second concept won’t change Johnny Jo’s.
“There’s only one Johnny Jo’s and there will only be one Johnny Jo’s,” Milone says. “But this is a Johnny Jo’s product. And I know people enjoy the product, so I want to expand.”
Milone has five sauces in the works, including a pesto margarita pie that he’s thinking will be the first to make it to the menu.
“I’m starting out just like I started here [at Johnny Jo’s]. I need to make sure the pizzas are right,” Milone says.”We might do cream cheese pies. We do it by the slice every once in a while. And maybe a couple crazy toppings.”
What constitutes crazy for Milone?
“Maybe chicken,” he says and laughs.
The Johnny Jo (pepperoni and Italian sausage) will be on the menu and the cheese pie will still be made with a 50-50 blend of mozzarella and provolone, a red sauce with crushed San Marzano tomatoes and the seasonings outlined in his grandparents’ cookbook. Milone is also having a pizza peel made for the new shop because his pizzas are about to get bigger.
“At Johnny Jo’s, we’ll be introducing a 26-inch pie because that’s the biggest size my oven will fit,” Milone says. “At The Pizzeria, the ovens are twice as big so we can do 30-inch pies and then sell them by the slice.”
He envisions the bar crowd at Coach’s coming over for a late night slice. If and when the menu expands, Milone is considering adding pizza knots, stromboli, pasta (rigatoni has been a rare special at Johnny Jo’s) and meatball sandwiches. For dessert, Milone intends to serve the cannolis that debuted at Johnny Jo’s this past December and is working on a cheesecake.
The Pizzeria will have eight to 10 seats, but will focus on carryout. Milone is looking at offering delivery, knowing that the South Kansas City neighborhood is more spread out than his current place in the West Plaza.
The Pizzeria will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.[Images via Facebook: Johnny Jo’s Pizzeria]