A Conversation with Chef Nick Strawhecker of Dante’s Pizza

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In 2009, renowned chef, Nick Strawhecker opened Dante’s Pizza in Omaha, Nebraska, which has been an epitome and a new face of farm-to-table and seasonal-dining in that region. Strawhecker, who is a native of Omaha, has always been a food lover and has pride in preparing all his meals with nothing less than fresh ingredients, straight from the farm.

Dante Pizza Omaha

He connects his roots with cooking back to his grandmother, who used to prepare the family meals, his father (of Italian origin) in making homemade sausages, and his mother, who had a passion for home gardening where she grew her own produce. As the family did what they had a passion for, they moved to London, where they stayed for a few years. That must certainly have been a journey like no other for Strawhecker as his expedition of new experiences began.

Dante pizza omaha staff and number one pizza

He noted as he got the chance to tour most of the European region, his love for fine dining expanded. From Oysters in Paris to mussels and frites in Brussels, Strawhecker never seized to give up on the opportunity to try something new and unique. Oh, and lets’s not forget the wood-fire pizza and pasta in Italy.

His passion and love for the culinary arts went even further as he attained his associate degree in the same vein from Johnson & Wales of Providence, Rhode Island. He later spent two years working at a small bistro while attending and furthering his studies at Northern Arizona University. He completed his Master’s Chef’s Program at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners, after which he pursued a stint at the Michelin-rated Relais & Chateaux property II Falconiere in Cortona, Tuscany.

Garnering Skills To Change The Way Italian Food Is Made

Strawhecker has gone through the years before opening Dante working with some exceptional and renowned world chefs such as Michele Brogioni and Shawn McClain, James Beard Award winner. He got the chance to experiment with fresh garden produce the restaurant owned as well as other authentic and Italian vineyards. These skills and experiences he garnered, channeled his passion and desire in opening Dante.

Since then, Strawhecker has positioned himself as a naturalist when it comes to preparing his dishes. He has brought his undying love for Italian cuisine into the American culture by investing strong relationships with growers and producers from the Midwest regions to include Nebraska. Strawhecker brought life to the world of Italian food in the area and was also Omaha’s first-ever restaurant to specialize in Neopolitan pizza. He also received the coveted certification by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, Neapolitan pizza’s global arbiters.

Secret Behind Chef Nick Strawhecker’s Taste And Flavors

We can all attest to the fact that many restaurants do prepare the same meal, but they certainly don’t make it the same way. In my small town of just 29,000 people, we have eighteen pizza places.

None of them are the same, use the same ingredients, or make a similar finished product. They all have different motivators. Being a chef myself, it is easy to tell who uses less than fresh ingredients or who takes a lot of shortcuts when preparing their food.

Chef Strawhecker was working to achieve a final product above the rest. Not only did he open a food outlet, but he made it one food lovers will flock to and desire his creations. He prides on hyper-seasonal-style food preparation as well as farm-to-table, which is a huge hit among both travelers and locals alike.

For a first in Nebraska, Strawhecker developed a strong relationship with local farmers to provide the best in taste and style for his customers. Craving for freshness and authentic-style pizzas has seen Dante achieving more awards than ever and, of course, numerous positive feedback.

A Conversation with Chef Nick Strawhecker of Dante

Dating back to when they just opened, Strawhecker admitted he didn’t want to go “fine-dining,” but as the years went by, he got a little bored and needed “more.” That’s when it all got to a level unmatched and brought Omaha on the map in providing world-class mouthwatering cuisine and more.

With this expansion came a higher demand from those who were looking up to him for the best-tastes. He used the inspiration and encouragement to open a sister restaurant known as Forno, which prides in catering to lovers of Neapolitan Pizzas, pasta, mains, and all types of Italian wines.

Chef Nick Strawhecker has added more than just a different flavor to his hometown but a mission that will change the way people view this region in terms of food and incorporating the locals in making the difference.

His menu will change according to the seasons and availability of the items he chooses to use. Whether his local farmers are sharing how the harvest is coming or he is having fresh fish overnighted from the coast, his desire is to bring the best possible tastes, and freshest of ingredients to his customers.

We were treated to a multi-course sampling of some of his favorite dishes on our brief visit. All I can say is, “wow!”

Our Version of Dante’s Pizza Omaha Menu

We were started with butternut squash and apple cider soup – that was dressed with brown butter and shelled pumpkin seeds. I could have lived on just this, along with a piece of nice crusty bread. While I was dismayed by the small sampling, I ended up grateful when plate after plate of food started to arrive…

Dante's PIzza butternut squash and apple soup

Next came the pasta: two different kinds. One doesn’t often think of “rabbit ragu” with fusilli pasta or “wild boar”  WILD BOAR BALANZONI pasta so it was nice to expand the culture of the pallet a bit.

rabbit ragu with fucilli pasta at Dante's pizza

Hands down, I preferred the rabbit. I don’t even care for buffalo meat, so the taste of the boar didn’t surprise me, even if it was expertly prepared.  For me, the show stopper was the next dish: the wood-roasted beets with fried kale.  Butter, bourbon, and brown sugar with hazelnuts enhanced it. The flavors played off each other perfectly and we were all fighting for the last pieces on the serving platter.

Our Version of Dante's Pizza Omaha Menu

Then the star of the meal arrived: the tomato pies. As I am not able to eat bell peppers, I opted to skip the calabrese pepper concoction that looked amazing but thoroughly enjoyed my Margherita slice. The wood-fired pizza oven, when paired with the certain flour that Chef Nick Strawhecker hunted down made for perfection.

margarita pizza at Dante's pizza omaha

According to Chef, pizza accounts for only about twenty percent of their sales, and it is easy to see why: everything they craft is delicious. Dante finished us off with Butterscotch Budino. It felt like a crime to leave almost half of it untouched, as it was that amazing.

butterscotch budino on Dante's pizza menu

If you aren’t sure what that is, it is the best butterscotch pudding you could ever imagine. It’s roll-your-eyes-back-up-in-your-head amazing.

Dante's Pizza Omaha Menu hours

What impressed me the most about our experience? The details. Straws were ecofriendly; condiments are attractively displayed on your table, and solar-powered candles adorn the vases along the ledges. They have a sommelier to help understand the wine menu as well as design craft cocktails.

Let’s not forget that the service is top-notch. Add in how he talks about the “competition” – as if they are all friends? You can get a real sense of the community that is evolving in Omaha, Nebraska. I love that. It means that we all win: both the businesses and the customers.

Don’t take my word for it – give Dante’s Pizza a try next time you are in Omaha or zip over to their sister site: Forno. Be prepared to be amazed.

**Have not covid fears!  Staff wear masks · Staff get temperature checks · Staff required to disinfect surfaces between visits

Dante Pizza Omaha Hours

While closed on Mondays, they are open for lunch and dinner, six days a week.

Tues thru Thursday, 11:30 – 9, Friday is 11:30-9:30, Saturday from 10:00-9:30, and Sunday 10:00 – 9:00 PM

Dante Pizza Omaha Coupon:

Besides checking out your local Groupon, the Omaha Savings Pack gives visitors more $300 in exclusive discounts to top Omaha attractions. With nothing to download, the Savings Pack will be instantly delivered via text and email and allows for easy mobile redemption.

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