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Omaha Magazine

A Toast to Little Italy: Sips on 10th Pops the Cork Without Breaking the Bank

Aug 22, 2023 02:50PM ● By Sara Wiebold

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

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Sips On 10th is located within Omaha’s historical, yet vibrant, Little Italy neighborhood. The area is undergoing a commercial renaissance, with an influx of exciting new businesses cropping up over the last few years. Sips on 10th stands out as a versatile space ready to welcome longtime locals as well as new-to-the-area and Blue Barn showtime patrons. This cherished building has been a cornerstone of the community for over half a century, with roots dating back to the 1890s and a legacy steeped in hospitality that has borne witness to the evolution of Omaha's urban sprawl. Today, Sips On 10th carries on that tradition with odes to the neighborhood’s heritage while reinvigorating the space with an approachable, yet aesthetically artisanal menu of drinks and food.

At Sips On 10th, one’s culinary journey could begin early in the morning or extend into the late hours of the night, making it a go-to spot for both brunch enthusiasts and late-night revelers. The menu is a trove of tantalizing options depending on the hour and one’s appetite, featuring a range of staple dishes along with a few surprises. My dining experience began with a late-night drop-in and the always welcome surprise of reverse happy hour.  

The interior is a mix of exposed brick and quartz high-top tables, melding classic and modern design elements. The bar sits off the front entrance, enticing passersby to wander in before or after a theater performance. Past the bar is the lower dining room and patio areas, where large garage doors open to let in the gentle summer breeze over a round of drinks and snacks. The weekend vibe was energetic and fun, as large portraits of Warren Buffett and Lady Gaga peer over the bar as hip hop plays over speakers, punctuated by the sounds of cocktail tins rattling and wine bottles popping.

I typically like to start with a cocktail but always glance at the wine list to come up with a game plan. Here, I stopped pursuing the former and immediately took notice of how approachable the prices were. This affordability extended to the cocktails and spirits as well. I find a lot of enjoyment in getting great value on a wine list—it’s also a sure way to get me to happily spend more than I was planning…it seems this is a cornerstone of their wine program, providing an amazing drinking experience at a lower price point for all to enjoy. 

After probing the staff about the wine list, specifically the champagne section, I settled on the Laurent Perrier Rosé, and we were off to a bubbly start. The list also included an impressive selection of sparkling wines from all over the world, as well as the traditional cabernet-chardonnay-pinot noir-sauvignon blanc heavy hitters from both classic and cult producers. Most restaurants do not carry large formats of sparkling wine, let alone renowned multi-generational champagne houses. Combine this with the price points and there’s plenty to sip, and celebrate. Service was prompt and friendly from beginning to end, albeit some of my more nuanced wine questions went unanswered. Sips on 10th has only been open since March of this year, and its potential is obvious.

The menu is small enough—you get the sense everything is house made, but large enough to represent a variety of palates. A standout dish is the Venice Inn Escargot (the Caniglia family restaurant namesakes just one example of how the restaurant pays homage to Omaha's culinary tradition) a classic favorite that isn’t seen on every menu. Here, it was perfectly broiled, with a balanced butter-to-cheese ratio—an ideal, rich accompaniment to our sparkling wine. Dare I say they give the traditional M’s Pub escargot starter a run for their money! 

If you're looking for a side dish to accompany your meal, the ‘Sidewinders’ are a must-try. These crispy potato spirals, expertly fried to perfection, came served in a heaping pile with three delectable sauces (bacon jam, champagne aioli, and homemade ketchup). For those craving a touch of sophistication with their late-night bites, the lamb lollipops are an absolute knockout, served in portions of four. Tender and succulent, these were cooked to perfection at 10pm—that isn’t a ‘gimme.’ They self-describe the menu as “upscale bar snacks,” and Sips On 10th certainly makes good on that promise. 

The thoughtful preservation of this space showcases this restaurant group's commitment to maintaining Omaha's landmarks while transforming it into a vibrant hub for social gatherings. Whether you're seeking a leisurely brunch or a late-night indulgence, this menu is sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you thinking about your next stop in. I am excited to see the neighborhood continue to rise, and with it the first (unofficial) champagne bar in the city. 

Run, don’t walk. Cheers! 

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This article originally appeared in the September 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

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