by Michael Kelly   He was a charming Italian named Franco with a little wooden fishing boat. She was a tourist from Omaha named Holly, visiting a small village on the Italian Riviera with a friend. Franco was flirtatious at first when they met in 1982, but he was 15 years older. Their relationship, Holly says, never became romantic.&nb...

Paul Kulik runs some of the best restaurants in Omaha, and the James Beard Award semifinalist is known for his daring, often difficult cuisine. Ethan Bondelid is behind three of the city's most popular craft cocktail bars, and his ability to grab a trend and bring it to Omaha is well documented.   Now the two old friends and former room...

Members of Omaha's Little Italy community cheered and cried Sunday as family and friends celebrated the final day of the Santa Lucia Italian Festival at Lewis & Clark Landing. The four-day festival concluded with members of the Italian-American community walking with an ornate and decorated statue of Santa Lucia through the streets of down...

By Kevin Cole Plaudits came easily Sunday for the food, drink and fun at the 29th annual La Festa Italiana. This was the third and probably final year the festival was at the National Guard Center near 116th Street and Rainwood Road.   "Next year, if we're ready, we will be at our permanent home at 132nd and Fort," said Dr. Ted Bolamperti,...

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Thursday for a new American Italian Heritage Society headquarters in Omaha.   The building, at the corner of North 132nd and Fort streets, will provide space to educate the community about Italian culture and serve as a banquet facility accommodating up to 600 people. The group has been the sole spo...

A task to banish a resident raccoon and unplug a gutter has "snowballed" into an interior makeover of a 125-year-old former firehouse in Omaha's Little Italy neighborhood.    But that's just the beginning. Owners of the narrow two-story structure — which has long been the Santa Lucia Hall — now want to launch a major capital campai...

Italian immigrants entered the Great Plains first as missionaries (Fra Marco da Nizza, 1495-1558 and Eusebio Francisco Kino, 1645-1711 were two) and later as adventurers ( Count Leonetto Cipriani, 1816-1888 and Italian American Charles Siringo, 1855-1928, for example). Since Italy was not a unified country until the Risorgimento (1860-70), early tr...

by Alexandra Stone   The American Italian Heritage Society opened the doors of its new 'il Palazzo' building Thursday. The building is a project 14 years in the making. The name is Italian for "palace." Speakers at the ribbon-cutting said the organization got its start in Omaha in 1980. It began as a small group of Omaha residents...

This is how an Omaha woman named Mary Jo Klusmire makes meatballs. First she gets the coffee on. Then she puts the grandbaby to bed. Next she mixes the bread dough.Then Mary Jo says hi to her 81-year-old mother, Rose, who has just arrived, and gets out her big bowl.Into the bowl go the ground chuck and crushed crackers, the eggs, cheese and water,...

What started as a dining room table discussion more than 30 years ago has evolved into, among other things, the long-running La Festa Italiana. In 1980, eight people sitting around a table hatched the idea of an American Italian Heritage Society, and out of that grew La Festa Italiana, now in its 32nd year.   La Festa Italiana, which wr...