As you make your way from West Omaha to downtown destinations, you might catch a glimpse of an apple-green sign on the south side of Maple just before 120th Street. There you will find Dolce, a comfortable, classy restaurant in an unassuming strip mall helmed by executive chef and owner Anthony Kueper, serving elevated, creative food and wine to a loyal group of regular customers and those patrons lucky enough to pop in on a whim.
Chef Kueper grew up in a military family, which provided ample opportunity to try foods from around the world. Many of Kueper’s dishes have an Asian flavor profile, and he frequently experiments with distinctive spices, resulting in compelling flavor combinations. He likens his approach to jazz in that it comprises a mix of styles, largely circumventing the notion of rules. Each plate provides a blank canvas on which to use a palette of colors and flavors to surprise and delight diners’ palates. Often customers recognize when Kueper personally plates a dish—he brings a passionate style to every plate.
A graduate of Omaha Gross High School, Kueper pursued a bachelor’s degree but ultimately followed his heart, attending culinary school and notching global experiences that featured stints at Michelin starred restaurants in Germany and time with famed Los Angeles chef Nobu Matsuhisa. After several years in Colorado, he and his family settled back in Omaha, where he worked his way back up through the ranks of local chefs to eventual ownership of Dolce.
“It’s definitely different being the bride instead of the bridesmaid, but I love what I do and that’s why I do it,” shared Kueper. He is a true renaissance man, skilled in nearly every part of the industry from butchery to growing produce to the fine art of pastry. Regular customers are highly valued, and staff is constantly striving to ensure their experiences exceed expectations through thoughtful food and service.
Dolce is well known for its Date Night Menu, a 4-course prix fixe meal highlighting local meats and produce. First course options include a charcuterie platter of house-cured meats, pickled vegetables, mustard, and a pork rillette. Adventurous diners often opt for the Taste of the Moment, a unique appetizer inspired by fresh local ingredients. Risottos are a top seller, providing a flexible canvas for what is appealing and delightful that day. Entrées include a trio of TD Niche pork often accompanied by scratch noodles and complimented by Asian flavors, including house-made Kewpie mayo and bulgogi sauce, and Imperial Wagyu provides mouth-watering beef, served up a perfect medium-rare in the Flatiron steak entrée with Tuscan sauce.
An impressive and affordable wine list makes Dolce a worthwhile destination for couples who want to treat themselves with an evening out. A certified sommelier, Kueper is not interested in storing wine, but rather selling it, captivating customers with less common varietals and unique pairings. This summer, Dolce is offering ingredient-motivated Producer Dinners, for which staff sets a family-style table for 24 in the middle of the restaurant, preparing and serving a multi-course meal intended to expand palates through unique preparation of diverse local ingredients.
While working at the Ritz-Carlton in Kansas City, Kueper had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco and gain additional training as a pastry chef. Diners are the fortunate recipients of this training, savoring memorable, delectable desserts such as an apple-almond cheesecake with caramel and cinnamon meringue or the signature brioche bread pudding, inspired by his grandmother’s recipe.
Kueper and staff never use big purveyors, opting instead for wholly local produce, meats, and other products. “This is where food comes from,” he said about Omaha. “Using local purveyors and ingredients is how things should be.” Dolce boasts a full scratch kitchen, and Kueper is involved in all aspects of the operation, happily smoking meat or gardening at home, and even buying produce from the youngest of local purveyors, his three sons.
Sustainability here is not just a trendy notion, it is ingrained in everything from purchasing seafood from sustainable sources to reducing waste by using every bit of ingredient in creative ways. On your next date night, consider staying closer to home and dining at Dolce, where you will discover an edible expression worthy of the best local ingredients.