When the Bluejays take the court, you can expect to see a sea of bright blue shirts at the Sam & Louie's at the corner of 24th and Cuming in Omaha. The location has been one of Creighton University's homes away from home since it opened in 1994, but its welcoming atmosphere is found at each of the eatery's 24 locations. There, friends and families bond over great conversation and an eclectic mix of casual cuisine from a menu inspired by traditional New York–style pizzerias. Eighteen specialty pizzas are hand tossed into thin-crust pies before being decorated with more than 35 toppings such as creamy alfredo sauce, sliced Italian meatballs, and canadian bacon. In deference to those with special dietary needs, almost all of these specialty pizzas are available in gluten-free pizzas.
In addition to pizzas, cooks also craft their daily-made dough into calzones and strombolis, which ooze with mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. The menu culminates in five third-pound Black Angus burgers, Italian hoagies, and eight types of pastas. In addition to hosting guests inside their welcoming pizzerias for both lunch and dinner, the cooks at Sam and Louie's also take their food on the road, offering catering services for events both large and not-so-large.
Like the organizer of an eternal neighborhood picnic, 9 South Chargrill mixes together a bounty of Southern-style barbecue and comfort food with a homey ambiance created by red-painted brick walls and deep-navy tablecloths to draw friends together. This combination has worked on such devotees as Jeff Korbelik of the Lincoln Journal Star, prompting him to place the eatery atop his 2010 list of the Top 5 Neighborhood Restaurants, where he called it his "favorite out-of-the-way place." Although the chefs embrace homespun cooking by churning their signature barbecue sauce and chipotle aioli in-house, many of their entrees look beyond regional and national borders. Texas-size loaded potatoes, certified Angus steaks, and Memphis-style pulled-pork sandwiches feature a range of distinctively American flavors, but lighter continental alternatives, such as an Italian-inspired spinach fettuccine dish, spotlight the chopped tomatoes and fresh basil found in Old-World favorites and inventive toddlers' Easy Bake Ovens.
There's a dish to satisfy every taste at Spaghetti Works, where diners can customize meals to their hearts’ and mouths’ content. Plates of fettuccini or whole-wheat mostaccioli can be enjoyed with sweet italian sausage, beer-cheese sauce, and a wide variety of other toppings. Meanwhile, the restaurant's cooks also prepare classic Italian dishes, such as homemade lasagna and shrimp scampi, and craft gluten-free pizzas and pasta bowls. Diners can cap meals with beer, wine, a cocktail, or more than 20 flavors of Italian sodas.
Known as a family-friendly establishment, Spaghetti Works delights both children and adults with its quirky decor. All three locations feature red-checkered tablecloths and vintage model T trucks, the backs of which hold salad bars with all the fixings. And at all three locations, guests can admire the setting sun from an outdoor patio—a sight almost as beautiful as that of a kitten hatching from its shell.
Nestled in the historic Haymarket area, JTK Cuisine & Cocktails works to preserve the traditions of American cooking. Chefs keep their menus short, using only fresh ingredients that are in season. As they follow the cooling or warming of the air throughout the year, they change up the menu three or four times to introduce new weather-appropriate dishes and plot twists in the story of Appetizer and Entree. Their menus have focused on elements of modern American cuisine from both land and sea, while accommodating vegetarian, gluten-free, and other diets. Culinary teams shape burgers from American Wagyu beef, marinate cuts of New York strip and flatiron steak, and sear duck and chicken breasts. They also drizzle glazes and seasonings atop scallops, Atlantic salmon, and shrimp. These dishes pair with the restaurant's wines, which include bottles from around the world that represent a range of grape varietals and regions.
Like any beloved neighborhood pizza joint, Lazzari's Pizza often sees lines snaking out the door, populated with customers eager to sink their teeth into a spicy chicken and cream cheese Randy Ross pizza or a handmade ricotta-stuffed calzone. The bustling restaurant takes its moniker from the Italian name for street urchins, who, legend has it, originally perfected the pizza as we know it today, eventually bringing it to the shores of the United States in a floating pizza box. Lazzari's menu shines in its selection of freshly baked pies, crowned with up to seven different cheeses and a bounty of traditional meat and veggie toppings. To complement the core cuisine, garlic bread makes a tasty side, creamy pesto seduces the palate, and spicy sausage makes an appearance in the eatery's pastas.
The family behind Grisanti's draws upon nearly four decades in business while crafting Italian dishes from recipes they’ve developed through the years. Wreaths of steam twist around chefs as they sprinkle spices into homemade soups, and eggplant parmesan cooks to the golden color of an alchemist’s business card. Hickory-smoked gouda, parmesan, and romano cheeses melt across pizzas, complemented by red and white wines from California and Italy. The glasses sing together in toasts in the restaurant's open storefront or private dining rooms modeled after scenic Italian locales such as a Venetian courtyard and Super Mario's chalet.:m]]