The cream always rises and so does the focaccia at Plate Italiano Moderno. After a few hard knocks and some plot twists along the way, this eatery has risen from literal ashes to serve up a taste of Italy to a receptive clientele at Leawood’s Park Place.
It all began with Christian Joseph, founder & CEO of Plate Restaurant Group and Plate Italiano Moderno. Christian started in the hotel/hospitality industry, with tenures at the Phoenician Resort in Phoenix, Arizona, and with Italian Restaurateur Valter Nassi at Il Sansovino Ristorante in Salt Lake City, Utah.
In 2000, Christian segued back to college to study respiratory therapy, working at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“It’s surprising how close the hospitality industry is to healthcare,” he says.
In 2014, Christian conceived the idea for an Italian restaurant called Piatto (“Plate”), founding the company the following year. Then, tragedy hit.
“The first iteration of Plate was a small bistro in Brookside. We sat a mere 48 people but were very busy. We built a period wine cellar in the basement and had just expanded the dining room when we suffered a total loss due to a fire in 2017.”
But they rebuilt. In May 2019, they reopened in a new larger location in Brookside. But in March, they were shut down again due to COVID.
During the pandemic, Christian worked as a respiratory therapist in ICU at St. Luke’s Plaza. “I was honored to do what I could to help,” he says. “I met so many selfless, wonderful people.”
Christian’s firm belief in overcoming adversity to create a success story helped him negotiate a new restaurant site at Park Place that opened in March 2022.
“There’s a certain sense of duty you adopt both in a 5-star resort and in healthcare—I carry that into my business today,” he states. “Hospitality matters. If we lose sight of this, we lose ourselves.”
Today, Plate Restaurants have 115 employees. The Brookside location offers elevated dining, and the Leawood location is more modern chic, “like a night out in Milan,” Christian says.
Glass dividers keep the ambiance airy while still providing smaller, intimate areas. The large bar has two “tastefully positioned” TVs to catch up on your favorite KC sports team. “Our clientele ranges from the casual diner to date night chic. Come casual or dressed up—you’re always welcome.”
The traditional yet modern Italian menu features house-made pastas and freshly prepared entrees and seafood using high-quality ingredients.
“Plate Italiano Moderno is 100% authentic, 100% scratch,” Christian says. “We bake our bread and make our pasta fresh every day.”
Guest favorites include Pappardelle Pasta with braised pork shoulder, house-made meatballs and truffle garlic bread.
“Brunch is also popular,” he adds. “I love the frittata with an espresso, and my fiancée loves the bacon pizza.”
For lunch, the new menu offers fresh salads, Italian sandwiches, and signature pastas. Takeout is also available. (Try the pear bruschetta, paninos, and pizzas from Margherita to Salsiccia.)
The bar features a happy hour and a lengthy wine list of fine Italian wines, draft craft beers and signature cocktails. “Our bartenders created the craft cocktails with standouts being the Italian Old Fashioned, Negroni and Sbagliato.”
Plate can host private events at either location for up to 30 people. The restaurant also just launched a VIP program to provide guests with instant rewards.
“Happy guests are what drives me,” Christian says. “We will always put the guest first and guarantee a 5-star experience.”
Always looking forward, Christian is planning potential locations in Lee’s Summit or north of the river. And later this year, watch for the launch of Plate Pizzeria, a casual pizzeria offering a little slice of Italy to our lucky neighborhood.
For hours and more info, contact platekc.com.