December 5, 2015 by
Photography by Bill SItzmann

Federico Fellini’s 1960 film, La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life) is best described as a dramedy, a mix of drama and comedy. The story of Dolce, the restaurant, is certainly full of drama, but there’s nothing funny about their growth into a full-service, white tablecloth dining destination replete with multi-course dinners, a full bar, and nicely appointed wine list.

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Dolce started as a pastry shop and bakery that also served a casual lunch. The public raved about their cakes, cupcakes, paninis, and burgers, but wanted more.

The first thing you may notice when you walk into Dolce is how tiny it is. With most tables dressed for two, this attractive space has garnered a reputation as an intimate
date-night eatery.

“Date night” is usually code for dollar signs, but Dolce has carved out a niche as a decidedly affordable experience. How about a nicely arrayed four-course menu for two that starts at just $58? That’s right, 58 bucks!

Executive Chef Anthony Kueper’s “Date Night” for two concept includes a choice of shared appetizer, soups or salads, entrees, and a dessert to split. Dolce is gracious about accommodating substitutions and add-ons. The sweet life, after all, is defined by the choices you make. Add a bottle of great wine and it bumps the bill to a mere $75. It’s very affordable fine dining and one of the best values in town.

On a recent visit my dining partner and I sampled the “Date Night” menu. The hardest part was deciding what to order because of the variety of tasty options. After much deliberation we selected the charcuterie board for an appetizer. The house-cured salamis, pork rillette, spicy mustard, and pickled vegetables were beautifully presented and as good as any I have ever had. But the star of this dish was the house-made rye bread rolls that were hot from the oven.

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Next I tried the soup of the day, which was an amazing puree of roasted sweet onions that were perfectly seasoned and nicely accented by crispy leeks and basil oil. My dining partner selected the warm goat cheese salad, which required a nominal addition to the bill. This dish featured sliced roasted beets, arugula dressed in an orange truffle vinaigrette, and, of course, warm goat cheese, which was breaded and fried. Delicious!

My entree was king salmon, which was perfectly seared and served with cannellini beans, carrots, and spinach. It was all in a sassy saffron broth with a caramelized onion jam. My dining partner had the pan roasted chicken breast, which was perhaps one of the most beautifully presented plates I’ve seen in a while. The chicken breast was juicy with expertly crisped skin plated over garlic gnocchi, seared kale, and roasted tomatoes accompanied by an olive puree and chicken jus that really set everything off. Another stellar dish!

We shared the brioche bread pudding for dessert. It was drizzled with caramel and came with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream just for good measure—a delightful finish for a very enjoyable meal.

The service at Dolce was also top-notch. Our server was a very attentive young man gifted with a near flawless sense of timing.

Omaha is now home to several restaurants that rival the best of the best on the national stage, but most tend to also emulate the price points that go along with such culinary reputations. Dolce is bucking that trend by offering spectacular food and service at an Omaha price point.

And that’s a winning formula for serving up the sweet life.

Cheers!

Visit dolceomaha.com to learn more.

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