One of the Crossroads' hottest spots is now welcoming guests back inside. XR Cafe, located inside Crossroads Hotel, is firing up its pizza hearth once again, serving up plenty of updated menu items to kick off its reopening.

To start, XR will open each week on Thursday at 4pm, remaining open for dinner and cocktail hours through the weekend. As safety permits and as demand calls for it, the team plans on adding more days until they are back to their full, regular schedule.

Jeremy Bennett, lifestyle director for Crossroads Hotel, believes the reduced schedule will help keep everyone safe: the staff and guests of XR as well as the guests at the hotel. He also thinks the "timed release" of reservations will help ensure a safe environment with the best service possible.

Rather than accepting them at any time, reservations for the upcoming week will go live on the reservation portal Tock at noon each Tuesday. There are two types of reservations to choose from. The cocktail reservation will be more for drinks and small bites in a variety of the cozy, comfy seating that XR offers, while dinner reservations will be a more traditional offering. "Offering different types of reservations and putting them a few days in advance will make it easier for us to staff and provide the best service, all while ensuring everyone stays safe," says Bennett.

If you visited XR in the few months prior to its shutdown in March or have ordered from its "Pizze Di Lazia" to-go concept, you may have noticed a few changes in the food. The core concepts are all still there, but executive chef Ian Wortham is excited to start flexing his creative muscles now that guests will be returning. He started at the restaurant in December, having previously worked as chef de cuisine at the acclaimed Tavernetta in Boulder. He had only just started to tweak the menu at XR when things shut down this spring.

He touts the small plate and antipasti offerings as things that might surprise people: two of his favorites are the butternut squash cannelloni and a roasted octopus with bone marrow. There is also a delicious-looking fried pork rib option that will be sure to satisfy. Of course, XR is probably best known for its pizza, and Wortham has been working on improving that as well.

Wortham loves to experiment in the kitchen, and he's enjoyed putting in the effort to improve XR's already fantastic pizza dough. Both he and Bennett rave about the new recipe, saying that it brings out the best in what people want from Neapolitan-style crust while having a bit more substantial texture of its own. There are a few traditional pizza offerings, as well as a few experimental ones: one features Castelvetrano olives, pickled shallot and a Nduja-style sausage, while another is topped with delicata squash, fennel, apple and finished with a strong apple cider vinegar. It's safe to say that the pizza here will appeal to all palates.

With XR reopening, it is essentially absorbing the "Pizze Di Lazia" concept that has been operating since July. Guests will still be able to put in to-go orders, however. In addition to the food menu, XR will offer five to-go cocktails, each containing two (large) servings for $20. Guests will be able to order plays on a Negroni, Boulevardier, agave-based Old Fashioned and Manhattan, all made with local spirits.

Obviously, plans need to be fluid and evolve as the COVID pandemic continues. That said, XR seems to be in a strong position to provide safe dining and drinks that still provide a top-notch experience to guests. On top of that, Bennett, Wortham and the rest of the staff are excited to help reestablish XR and, eventually, bring Lazia back online as well.

Make sure to mark your calendars every Tuesday at noon – it seems likely that seats will fill up fast.

XR Cafe at Crossroads Hotel, 2101 Central St., Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City, Missouri, 866.531.2400, crossroadshotelkc.com/food-and-drink/xr-cafe/