Those Neely's are full of shit. The hosts of "Road Tasted with the Neelys", Pat and Gina Neely went to Cupini's when filming in Kansas City. They proceeded to rave on in a Guy Fieri-esque manner about how good the shrimp ravioli is. Well, after trying it myself this past weekend, I'm calling shenanigans.
Though there are five Cupini's locations in the metro, we went to the one at 1809 Westport Road. We wanted to go to Jazz, but unfortunately, there was a 45-minute wait. As we were meeting some friends later at Twin City Tavern, we decided to give Cupini's, which is right next door, a shot. To be honest, it was extremely disappointing after seeing the Food Network hype it up so much.
Virtually empty on a Saturday night, the place looks a bit scuzzy. While the front room with it's deli and kitchen counter has character, the dining room, with it's scarred and dirty walls just looks depressing. As an Italian restaurant, it had the red and white checked tablecloths, which I believe must be required by law. Each table was then covered in a glass top, no doubt for easy cleaning, and underneath, enterprising entrepreneurs (is that redundant?) had tucked their business cards.
Offering a nice selection of Italian fare at decent prices, Natasha went with the seafood ravioli at the recommendation of Gina Neely, while I was in the mood for a sandwich. I chose the Italian Beef Panini. We also split an order of garlic cheese bread.
As I mentioned before, the place was practically deserted. As such, our food arrived rapidly. The seafood ravioli, served in a cream/marinara sauce mixture with red peppers and artichokes, was just okay, reminding me of nothing so much as an entree from the Olive Garden. That is, it had nothing separating it from any other Italian place in the country, rather boring, in fact.
However, as disappointing as that was, I wish I'd ordered the same. My Italian Beef panini was terrible. Comprised of tough, dry roast beef with a splash of aus jus, topped with pepperoncinis and cheese, I practically threw my jaw out of socket trying to chew through it. And on top of that, it was served on toasted French bread. Now I'm no panini expert, but aren't they supposed to be pressed? Hence the term "panini press", I would think.
At any rate, the highlight of the meal was clearly the garlic cheese bread, which was a huge piece of cheesy, garlicky, buttery goodness. Very good, but not enough to save the meal.
I had heard from friends that Cupini's is very hit or miss, but after this experience, it may be some time before I'm willing to try again.