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Omaha Magazine

Choice Cuts With a Side of Charm: How Casanova’s Butchery Turns Customers into Regulars

Feb 24, 2023 10:08AM ● By Kim Carpenter
Casanova's Butchery's Andrew Miller

Casanova's Butchery's Andrew Miller.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

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Jennifer Winter stops by Casanova’s Butchery in Rockbrook Village most Mondays. It’s become a weekly ritual for her, owing to an array of succulent meats and a convivial atmosphere brimming with Old World charm.

This ambience is what turns customers like Winter, who grabs a handful of garlic and onions from a couple of nearby baskets, into devout regulars. 

“I typically come in with my son and pick up meat for most of the week,” she said. “We’re very specific about supporting and eating local. We recently purchased pork chops from Whole Foods, and my son said, ‘It’s crazy how the pork chops look the same but don’t taste the same!’”

The man behind the counter, Andrew Miller, is responsible for Casanova’s exacting standards. Just over a year ago, the 43-year-old brought his passion for high-quality products to his establishment, not named after the legendary Italian paramour, but for his own—Casanova is his wife Alejandra’s maiden name. 

The couple met almost 20 years ago while she was a chef at La Buvette. Miller had just returned from living overseas (fresh off the train) with $80 in his pocket and a dog by his side. 

“I had never been to La Buvette,” Miller recounted. “I just stopped in for a bowl of soup. It was serendipitous.”

By that time, he had already logged significant time working as a butcher. During his late teens, Miller started wielding knives behind the meat counter at Wohlner’s, where he “developed mad butcher skills.” He took those skills on the road in his early 20s. 

“I bought a crappy car, even an old school bus, and a dog,” Miller recalled. “I’ve been all over the States, except Hawaii and Alaska.” 

A friend who had relocated to New Zealand invited Miller to visit. He settled in Kiwi country for nearly five years thereafter.

“It took a ‘roll with it’ approach,” Miller said. “Some people don’t take opportunities. I’ve never been one not to—and it’s paid off.”

Those opportunities involved forays into real estate and running an arborist business for almost 15 years. When he received a buy-out offer in 2019 that was too good to pass up, Miller left tree pruning behind to consider his next move.

“I said to myself, ‘I gotta find something to do.’”

His vision was composed of brick-and-mortar business, a place where his three sons, ages 13, 10, and 6, “could see where their prosperity comes from.” 

After spying an empty storefront in Rockbrook Village, Miller told his wife, “I’m going to open a butcher shop.”

“Oh, are you really?” she replied.

Miller drew up a business plan; three weeks later, on September 24, 2021—by coincidence, his birthday—he signed the papers. Casanova’s Butchery was official. 

He imprinted the business with his own, ineffable style. He and his employees don crisp white button-down shirts, spotless navy aprons (with matching ties), and spitfire caps. Their professional attire elevates the distinct feel of the butchery—bright and airy—that features gleaming white subway tiles accented with dark blue walls.

The beef comes exclusively from Nebraska, while the pork hails from Iowa. For specialty items, Casanova’s uses “appellation d'origine contrôlée” products—those made according to the traditions and customs of the place where they’re produced. For example: Spanish chorizo, German Speck, and Italian prosciutto and guanciale. Additionally, the shop boasts a case of international cheeses, figs, and hard-to-find gourmet items such as Callebaut Belgian baking chocolate.

Casanova’s curated offerings have resonated with the public. In fact, the butchery’s first year has proven so successful that Miller already has plans to expand into the adjacent bay to accommodate surging demand. Among the business’s most popular items are custom charcuterie boards, which typically feature pesto, hummus, Romesco sauce, and tapenades handcrafted on site. 

“We knew the boards were popular, but we had no idea how popular,” Miller observed. “We got a few orders for larger and larger boards, and it just snowballed. We don’t say no to people really well. You gotta take them opportunities.”

The expanded menu will also include select pastries and hot meals to go, such as pesto chicken and lamb cheeks with gnocchi.

“We wanted this to be a place to come and get great things,” Miller emphasized. “Not good things. Great things. There are a lot of places in Omaha to get good things. We wanted people to be able to come in and get exactly what they wanted.”

This sentiment rang true when the next customer, a woman who preferred to remain anonymous, stopped in for an evening meal of choice cuts.

Miller, full of impish charm, asked, “What can I get for you, young lady?” 

After exclaiming over some short ribs (“Oh, those are beauties!”), she settled on oxtails. 

A quick chat ensued about how best to prepare them: “Cook with some vegetables, rosemary, bay leaves, and a bottle of red wine for four to six  hours,” was the consensus.

Like Winter, this customer has made Casanova’s a regular on her shopping circuit. “They have things here that you can’t find elsewhere,” she noted. “They’re special. The meat is more flavorful.”

“I’ll take care of you,” Miller added with a wink. “We’re here to serve the community.”

“And entertain us,” she quipped, heading out the door with a grin, and a parcel of oxtails tucked firmly under her arm. 

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This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To subscribe, click here. 

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.


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