Omaha’s history with steak dates back a century. Now, as the oldest restaurant in Omaha, Johnny’s Cafe, celebrates its 100th anniversary, we take a look back at the steakhouses of old and tell the stories of those still serving red meat.
1001 Pacific St.
The Pirruccello family moved to Omaha from Sicily and opened Trentino’s. It later became Angie’s.
Original Piccolo Pete’s
2202 S. 20th St.
Grace Caniglia married Tony Piccolo Sr. and together they founded Piccolo Pete’s in 1934. Their son, Tony Jr., ran the steakhouse, and then daughters Donna Sheehan and Dee Graves took over in 1999. They operated Piccolo’s until it closed in 2015.
In 2021, Scott Sheehan, Tony’s grandson, reopened a new version of Piccolo’s in Papillion, near First and Washington Streets. He also runs a Piccolo’s food truck.
4443 S. 13th St.
Louis Marchio, an Italian immigrant, ran Marchio’s in Omaha for decades. His grandson Jeff Marchio runs Marchio’s Grill in Fort Collins, Colorado, using some of the family’s recipes. It is now Howard’s Charro.
Seventh and Pierce streets
Sicilians Cirino and Giovanna Caniglia introduced the city of Omaha to pizza. Cirino started an Italian bakery on the site in 1920, and it was also the location of Caniglia’s Pizzaria.
5319 N. 30th St.
1952, became Mr. C’s in 1970- 2006
What began as Sebastiano and Mary Caniglia’s drive-in called Caniglia’s Royal Boy eventually morphed into the enormous Mr C’s, which at its height could seat 1,400 diners both inside and out.
909 S. 72nd St.
The family who owned Ross’ decided to close rather than sell it to a non-family member.
Eli Caniglia’s Venice Inn
6920 Pacific St.
Nuncio “Eli” Caniglia opened Caniglia’s Venice Inn, and his sons, Jerry and Chuck, started working there as children and ran it until it closed.
7220 F St.
Anthony “Tony” Fucinaro Sr. started his namesake restaurant in 1967. An adjacent lounge, the Ozone, opened in 2005. A fiberglass steer on the roof made Anthony’s an Omaha landmark. It announced its plan to close in early 2022.
1001 Pacific St.
Angie’s closed after owners Jim and Karen Bonofede ran the steakhouse for more than 30 years. The site had been home to a restaurant since the 1930s.
4702 S. 27th St.
Frank Kawa opened Johnny’s as a bar in 1922, and turned it into the icon it is today. Members of the Kawa family, including Frank’s son Jack and his daughters, Sally Kawa and Kari Harding run it today.
4917 Center St.
Louis S. Gorat and his wife, Nettie, opened the restaurant in 1944. Their son, Louis N. “Pal” Gorat, and his wife, Shirley, took over the restaurant in 1960. In 2012, the Gorat family sold the restaurant to Gene Dunn, who remodeled it, restored its historic sign and updated its menu. Dunn sold the steakhouse in 2019 to current owners Jimmy and Tammy Chen.
1620 S. 10th St.
Brothers Joe and Al Cascio opened the steakhouse at its current location in the 1940s after running the Rinky Dink Bar and Grill. Most of the dishes the brothers came up with more than 75 years ago are still on the menu today.
2121 S. 73rd St.
Opened in 1968 as Cork and Cleaver, rebranded in 1979
The Drover became known for its salad bar, one of the first in Omaha, and still attracts customers from across the country with its whiskey-marinated steak. It closed temporarily but then re-opened after a fire in 2018.
Brother Sebastian’s Steakhouse & Winery
1350 S. 119th St.
Owner Loren Koch, inspired by Spanish monasteries in California, opened Brother Sebastian’s in Omaha with a “rustic abbey” theme. Servers wear dark robes and, in the parking lot, guests are greeted with Gregorian chants, and each small dining room has its own fireplace. The restaurant burnt down in a 1996 fire, and it reopened 8 months later with the same look and feel.
11732 W. Dodge Rd.
For years, the late Chuck DiDonato ran Jerico’s, known for its prime rib and dining rooms full of Nebraska Cornhusker memorabilia. He purchased the restaurant in 1989.