Walking into the Boot is such a pleasant experience. Someone will quickly greet you and guide you to your table while you look around and take in the very charming interior. The side walls are brick. Old wooden ladders hang sideways and their rungs are interspersed with flower vases. On one wall sits a painting that hung in proprietor Aaron Confessori’s dining room when he was growing up. On another is artwork that was created by an employee, and the back wall is covered with white subway tile. In the middle of the room is a communal table where diners sit in candy- cane red chairs making new friends. The vibe is energetic but not ear-splitting.
Front-of-the-house man Confessori and chef Rich Wiles own both the Boot, Westport Cafe and Bar, and also the Westport Street Fare, a food truck parked just down the street from their brick and mortar restaurants. I recently wrote a story for the Kansas City Star about these up-and-comers.
The Boot strives to be for Italian fare what the Westport Cafe is for French food–the restaurateurs want to provide simple and hearty meals in a casual setting.
Menu items include antipasti, Krizman’s sausages, meatballs, pizza, pasta and a handful of entrees. Based on my several trips there, I’ve found the best way to approach the menu is to order (depending on the size of your group), a couple of dishes in each category and then share them among your table mates. My favorite dishes include the handmade pulled mozzarella with beets and mushrooms, a riff on the more traditional caprese salad with mozzarella and tomatoes, the sheep’s milk ricotta with chile oil (addictive slathered on bread), braised short rib with polenta, and the skirt steak with salsa verde. Pasta dishes worth trying include the Parpadelle with red sauce and squid, and the Risotto Raggio, a not-very-pretty-looking but flavorful mushroom risotto. Both of these are based on recipes from the owners’ families. Other offerings that win praise are the short rib ravioli and the meatball sub.
The Boot recently started serving brunch on weekends, utilizing the same enticing deal as the Westport Cafe of offering a free mimosa or Bloody Mary with the purchase of an entrée. Both restaurants are becoming the place to be on Sunday mornings–especially the older crowd coming in early after church as well for twenty-somethings who roll out of bed at noon and want a hangover cure.
Aaron and Rich are very personable and aim to please, essential attributes for building a loyal clientele.