They whole famn damily was down in Kearney, MO a couple of weekends ago to celebrate Ainsley’s 1st Birthday. We rolled into Kearney mid afternoon, settled in and cocktail hour started. Per usual, with my family… a feeding isn’t far behind. The original plan was to hit a local Mexican joint with an audible to a GREAT local Italian joint simply called Gino’s.

THE SCENE – For you Des Moiners reading, Gino’s is basically a casual Tumea & Sons (one of my absolute favorites) but possibly a little more fun. Located in historic downtown Kearney, the birthplace of Jesse James, when you walk down the street you can’t help to wonder what kind of gun slinging was going on back in the day.

When you walking the door you immediately met with picture of Gino with his kids, cousins, and everyone in between. You’re seated and waited by members of Gino’s family. Locals were out in force and our group of 16 plus was treated and served with excellence. Which incidentally is a pretty tough gig to wait on a Young/Uthe party at any restaurant. For those of you who have had the honor, we’re a loud bunch… shocking, I know.

THE FOOD – Very good from reviews around the table. My brother announced (numerous times) that the meat balls there are awesome! As our family rolls, you could hear them saying, “Hey Adam, I hear the meat balls are good here.” Embarrasing my brother on the world wide web aside, he was right. He gets the ravioli and meat balls every time. Damn good. Per my Aunt Barb and others, the deserts were awesome. This coffee tasting dessert was getting huge reviews around the table. I had the fettuccini alfredo with chicken. Great sauce and everything… and the Coors Lights were ice cold…

WHY YOU SHOULD STOP – With good food, friends and family you can never go wrong. But at Gino’s, they treat everyone like the most important guests in the house. Gino himself makes this place a must stop. Rumor was that he’ll sing for you when asked. He stopped by and said, “I got something better! We have a professional singer on our wait staff, let me go get her.” The sound system in this joint starts playing and out comes this waitress singing “Where the Boys Are” by Connie Francis (my mom’s all time favorite song). She was great and is leaving for Branson in a couple of weeks.

Then Gino started singing a couple tunes in honor of Ainsley. She was getting a little tired, but the songs gave her a second wind. After a great rendition of “Ain’t That Kick in the Head”, he stayed to chat and get to know his new big fans from the Hawkeye State.

Anyway…. great host, great place, great food and great times… our family plans make regular stops when we come down to visit. And if you’re on your way to a Royals game, a party weekend in Westport or taking the kids to Worlds of Fun, make a pit stop in Kearney at Gino’s… your peeps will think you some sort of Food Channel stud or something. When in Rome, do what the Romans do... and don’t hassle them, they're local.