Dining With Denise Neil

Entrepreneurs from Wichita ready to open their new Italian restaurant in a familiar spot

If you like Italian food and are willing to drive for it, prepare for a new food adventure.

On Thursday, a restaurant called Pasta and Pasture opened in Toronto, a tiny town 85 miles straight east of Wichita.

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It’s taking over the spot that was previously occupied by Courtney’s Place, an Italian restaurant that had become a small-town Kansas dining destination before it closed in late June.

The new owners are Wichita real estate agent Patrick Kennedy and his wife, Deborah, who have partnered with Wichita businessman Josh Kirkhart. Though they renamed the restaurant, they’re keeping its menu Italian focused. The opening week menu includes dishes like crab with shrimp cannelloni, baked lasagna and chicken Parmigiana as well as a couple of steaks.

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You can see the menu for the opening week below.

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It will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays for dinner and also from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays for a $12.99 buffet that will include things like salad and bread sticks, pasta Alfredo, pasta with meat sauce, spaghetti and meatballs, and barbecue ribs.

Reservations will be required for evening meals by calling 620-637-0175.

The Kennedys and Kirkhart, who owns Auction ICT in Wichita, hired a chef named Tommy Case to run the kitchen. Former owner Courtney Neill also has volunteered to come in and help from time to time.

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In 2004, Neill opened the restaurant at 120 W. Main as a pizza place and bakery in a building on Toronto’s main drag that was originally erected in 1886. In 2010, she and her son turned it into a nice sit-down restaurant with candlelight, table cloths, piano music and a menu of chicken Parmigiana, manicotti and lasagna. The restaurant started to draw visitors from across the state.

When she closed in June, she said that owning and cooking for the restaurant had gotten to be too much, and she was tired.

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Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.
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