The history of Omaha steakhouses, past and present

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.

Original Caniglia’s

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.

Mr. C’s

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.

Ross’ Steakhouse

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. 


Johnny’s Cafe 

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.

The Drover 

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.

12 responses to “The history of Omaha steakhouses, past and present”

  1. Barbara Jeffrey Avatar
    Barbara Jeffrey

    What about Caniglia’s Top of the World” on the 28th floor of the Woodman Tower? This was the first place I ever had deep fried ravioli.😊

    1. Cindy Avatar

      I used to work at that restaurant-loved the deep fried ravioli!

  2. Cindy Avatar

    I wish I knew how to make the pizza they served at the Original Caniglia on 6th and Pierce. It was absolutely delicious!! We started going there in the 60’s. My dad loved that place!!!

  3. Mark Feller Avatar
    Mark Feller

    Jerico’s was founded by Jerry Foster with the help of his wife Nancy and CD Foster, his father. CD and Jerry originally owned Dingo’s off of 76th & Pacific.

    1. Bill Avatar

      Was Dingo’s located under the Ground Cow?

    2. Gary Yearian Avatar
      Gary Yearian

      Mark, you are correct! I was Chef at Jerico’s from 1980-1991!

  4. Dee Avatar

    How about Bohemian Cafe? Not a steakhouse but part of Omaha restaurant history.

  5. Stephaney Buick Avatar
    Stephaney Buick

    The Caniglia family should either create a cook book to sell or make, bottle and sell their spaghetti sauce and Sicilian salad dressing. Both are fabulous! My grandmother was a prep chef for them for years at both the original Caniglias and The Palazzo Italiano on 84th!

  6. Vern Avatar

    There were several restaurants on the south side of 72nd Street between
    Pacific and Farnham. One was Ross’s. What were the others.?

  7. Deanna VanEps Avatar
    Deanna VanEps

    My husband and I, when we were dating in the 60’s, would drive from Oakland Iowa to Omaha to see a movie and then have a late night dinner at Caniglias! We remember their steak sandwiches! Served open faced on grilled toast. They were delicious! We were in love and in love with Caniglia’s!

  8. LKava Avatar

    Before Frank Kawa bought the building on South 47th with its sign “Johnny’s Cafe” already in place he served food and bootlegged beer out of a commercial property and my grandmother’s house in the 4500 block of South 27th St at L St. Her husband was Frank Kara’s brother-in-law an early South Omaha Fireman who died in 1927. Frank was one of the infamous Beer Baron(s) of Omaha during probation. Both her commercial building and house were torn down in 1961-62 to build the freeway, then now separates Johnny’s from where it all started just blocks away.

  9. Kim Boryca Avatar
    Kim Boryca

    Luigi’s on 114th and dodge (now it’s a Pizza Hut). It was run by Lou and Pearl Caniglia. I waited tables there, their son tried unsuccessfully to run a restaurant across the street.

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