I am a New York Italian girl. I grew up with my grandmother living in my house and Sunday afternoon pasta dinners. At 1 pm, every Sunday, we gathered together to eat baked ziti, spaghetti and meatballs, or eggplant parmigiana. Some Sundays, my grandmother would even cook all three. So when I moved to Omaha five years ago and looked for a solid authentic Italian restaurant, I was thrilled to find Lo Sole Mio. I remember my first experience there – the large bottles of olive oil on the table, and the random statues of half-naked people scattered among the rooms. I felt at home. That’s the beauty of Lo Sole Mio, you feel as if you have stepped into a little old Italian woman’s house. All it needs is a couch covered in plastic and you have my entire childhood wrapped up in a bow.
So when I learned that Lo Sole Mio was celebrating its 20 year anniversary this year, I decided to put it to the test. With all the new innovative restaurants that have opened recently in Omaha, would a classic restaurant with twenty years of history and recipes be able to stand up to the modern approaches taking over the culinary world these days?
Twenty years ago, a pair of high school sweethearts named Don and Maria, opened Lo Sole Mio. Now, the restaurant is a family business with children, grandchildren and other family and friends keeping those recipes and service alive. The Losole Family picked the name of the restaurant based on an Italian love song praising the beauty of the sun called “O Sole Mio” – from that, they simply added an “L” in front of the first letter in honor of their family name and the restaurant name was created.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Heather Losole, a family member and manager of the restaurant, about what changes the restaurant has made over the past 20 years and she said, “The only thing that they have dabbled with is the bread. We make our own bread here and we recently decided to make it a bit crispier.” Twenty years and the only recipe change is bread. That is a restaurant that stands by their dishes.
After spending the past few years dining at new and modern restaurants, I was thrilled to take a second look at Lo Sole Mio and see if those same recipes I originally loved still stood up to all of the modern and innovative cuisine I’ve tasted recently. I’m thrilled to say that my grandmother would be proud.
Just walking into the restaurant I was reminded of the warmth it brings to all the customers, and how the staff makes you feel like you are coming back from vacation to open arms. We started with the stuffed mozzarella, which is lightly breaded, stuffed with pesto and then served in a bed of marinara sauce. When it arrives to the table, it looks like a plate full of sauce – however, it is wonderful to dig your fork under the sauce and bite into the warmth and melting goodness of the cheese and pesto combination.
For our main dishes, we couldn’t resist sampling Maria’s Best Combination Platter – a selection of her fettuccini alfredo, chicken parmigiana, and lasagna. This is not a dish for those looking for a light, summer fare – I have one of those coming later in the meal. This dish is hearty, creamy and enough to feed a small army. Two people can easily share this dish and enjoy an array of different flavors. From the creamy cheesy taste of the fettuccini alfredo, to the perfectly cooked chicken parmigiana with sweet marinara sauce, there is something for everyone. And for those looking for a lighter option, we also ordered the Pasta Roma, which is chicken, broccoli and roasted tomatoes over a bed of pasta that you
select. I picked the angel hair pasta which only added to its light, crisp flavor. It was a great burst of flavor with the vegetables, chicken and pasta together in one bite.
So can a restaurant with 20 years of history still stand up to all the new, shiny places opening up here in Omaha? Absolutely. Because at the end of the day, it is about the food. And the food at Lo Sole Mio is always dependable, delicious and a perfect family or date night meal. There is just something wonderful about walking into a restaurant and knowing that you are going to be taken care of, that for one night, you get to be their family.