11 Mar 2010 @ 8:53 PM 

*Yes, I know… but really.. it was WEAK!

Greetings Omaha Pizza Lovers….

I have some dismal news… It seems that our week 5 contestants in the Super Bowl of Pizza performed so poorly that we have decided to skip posting their names and results.

Ok, I declined posting the results to my co-workers… but you, my avid, pizza-ravenous readers… YOU CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH!

I will set it for “Read More” as to not to start a blog war…. So you’re going to have to click it to read it.
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Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 23 Mar 2010 @ 06:02 PM

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 11 Mar 2010 @ 8:25 PM 

I would like to apologize to everyone for getting these results out late. 

Our results for last week’s challenge are as follows:



Big Freds


Yuk: 1.75


Yuk: 2



We went to have Pudgy’s Pizza and they were not open for lunch.  So at the last minute we had to scramble to find Pudgy’s stand in.  Oscar’s was at the top of the cut list so we quickly grabbed it.  As such we were surprised to have it knock off Big Fred’s.

Now for my personal feedback:  The majority of us, being in Omaha for years, LOVE Big Fred’s.  You go, you get the stuffed hamburger Pizza and you drink beer and you sit and B.S. with family and friends… We love it.  And the Pizza that we got, was actually rated higher than some of the others that we have rated.  It just didn’t rate high enough.  If Fred’s was in any other bracket so far, I think it may have won out.  No, I know it would have won.  We love it. 

Oscar’s Pizza though… We were floored.  Nobody, and I mean nobody…. expected it to be so damn good.  It was the first time in this contest that I was surprised in a good way.  I liked it so much, that I dragged my family, and my brother and my dad and his wife out to have it.  I even ordered wings and I have to say.. Guinness and their Double Buffed Wings… I was in fat-boy heaven.  (Look for an Oscar’s inspired Hot Wing Challenge soon.)

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 11 Mar 2010 @ 08:30 PM

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 12 Feb 2010 @ 7:29 PM 

Week 3!


Your tasters have indulged and have chosen a winner…

Mama’s Pizza

Johnny Sortino’s



 Johnny Sortino’s holds off Mama’s

Mamma’s Pizza scored a grand total of 116 points while Johnny Sortino’s edged them out with 121.  Yuk Factor for Johnny Sortino’s was a whopping 2.22 while Mama’s oozed further down in the overall score with a rating of 2.77…

 Long live the pie and on to week 4!!!

Random comments:

“Pepperoni was somewhat close, but in hamburger, Mama’s sucked.”

“Mama’s was burnt. (Next portion was edited because of content talking about the less than appealing appearance.) Too much hamburger.  Pepperoni was pretty.  Johnny’s – liked the flavor of the beef and crust.”

“Couldn’t finish the Mama’s beef slice.  Flavorless sauce and bad tasting beef.  Sortino’s tasted good but a bit low on the quantity of Pepperoni.  Beef was good Quantity.”

Now none of those were my comments, just random comments taken from the sheets that came back from rating. 

This week, I was pleasantly surprised.  I actually thought that they were both good and the best week so far for Pizza.  There was plenty of flavor and toppings and pizza to go around.  Everything was fresh and the sauce from both, in my opinion, had some zing.  I was rooting for Johnny Sortino’s all the way… but I didn’t tell anyone this week for fear they would vote the other way for the third straight week.  Normally at Johnny’s I get the Supreme (everything on it) with extra cheese.  After a few slices you fall into a deep coma… Good stuff.  I am excited, because today, even though it lost, I was able to try a new place.  Mama’s, you lost by 5 points.  I think that you have some awesome potential and a good Pizza.  I think Sortino’s was just a hair better.  I think that if you could have not burned the crust, you may have won.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 12 Feb 2010 @ 07:29 PM

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 05 Feb 2010 @ 7:06 PM 

You have again picked a winner!!!

 With an average score of 3.002525253….. and a YUK Score of 2.25  DON CARMELO’S PIZZA!!!!

 With an average score of 2.604651163….. and a YUK score of 3.25  FRANK’S PIZZA!!!!

 My co-workers have chosen Don Carmelo’s Pizza in a head to head challenge in week 2.  


Frank’s Pizza

Don Carmelo’s

Average Score



Average Yuk



Total Score



 Comments from 3 random comments:

“The size of Franks was better, but without a doubt Don Carmelo’s out scored in all categories but ‘YUK’.”

“They Both Taste Pretty Bad, but Don Carmelo’s is much better.  The Spice on Franks made it really bad.”

“Don’s pizza is much smaller than Frank’s.  I also didn’t have any Sauce on Don’’s”

Now… I have to weigh in on the subject.  I am a HUGE Fran’s fan.  I personally feel that it has been the best pizza in town… but lately… something has happened to the sauce…  It’s gotten a little weak.  It used to be strong and well spiced… now it’s too bright and doesnt have any zing.  I’m sorry guys… you are still my favorite and my go-to pizza place… but I need more out of you.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 05 Feb 2010 @ 07:08 PM

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 29 Jan 2010 @ 10:41 PM 

Recently there was a contest at another branch of the company I work for in Connecticut to crown their king of pizza. Not wanting to be out done by people from the east coast, my office is getting together to do our “Super Bowl” of Pizza. We’re in process of building our “Pizza Grid” of our competitors which we should have out next week.

This week we pitted La Casa against Zios in a 3 pie battle. 

The rules are as follows: 3 Pizzas will be ordered from each location. A hamburger, a pepperoni, and a cheese. Each pizza will be rated on crust, sauce, toppings, cheese, “eww” factor, and general overall like or dislike.

La Casa —————————-Zios
Total 2.878787879                  Total 2.878787879
Yuk 2.875                                   Yuk 2.2857142
Total points: 95                           Total Points: 95
Net Points: 92.125                    Net Points: 92.714

As you can tell Zios squeaked by La Casa.

Comments include: “I didn’t like either, but Zios was better all around. Zios looked like a pizza. La Casa more closely resembled an oil drip pan.”

“La Casa: Too Garlicy Zios: Good, but so-so crust”

“Zios: Crust Limp, Greasy, Cheese is weak”

For the record, my preference is La Casa between the two. Who knew that Zios would win… I will keep you posted.


Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 05 Feb 2010 @ 07:09 PM

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 24 Nov 2009 @ 5:27 AM 

With the economy taking a big dump here lately and comfort food finally getting some of the gourmet recognition it deserves, hamburgers are getting a little bit more press and more of the spotlight. Lately, I had been hearing some buzz from co-workers on two new burger joints going in. One is 5 guys burgers and fries and the other is Smashburger. Funny thing is I have been meaning to go to each and review them… ok.. yeah.. well… Apparently I haven’t reviewed jack squat for a while. To be honest, I haven’t been able to go out much and when I do, I go to places like Hiro because I know what to expect. (Quality food and quality service) but since I have not Posted anything in a while… I figure I should flex my descriptive muscle and start writing again. That being said… Here goes nothing..

The Nebraska Rifle season for Deer opened weekend before last. I had taken the day off of work in hopes of getting all my errands done, get the last trip to Sheels in and then get out to door and make it to the hunting ground and set up shop. What I thought was going to be an early start, got off late. My wife and I had some time to kill and we were driving on L street and decided that perhaps that day was going to be the day to hit Smashburger. We pulled in and crossed the parking lot with plenty of anticipation. It was 11:30AM and we could see that the place was already packed. We walked in and it was standing room only. There was no place to sit. Every table was taken and there was a line to the door. My wife spotted a table that was about to empty and made a B-line for it and claimed it as ours. Meanwhile, I stuck it out at the counter and put in our order. 1 Husker burger and an order of fries. Then a double baja burger and an order of what they call smash fries. Then I ordered two drinks. I received my plastic “10” and two cups. I filled them at the drink station (one diet coke and one coke zero) and then headed off to meet my lovely bride who was fending off a hoard of angry drunken midgets bent on usurping our table(sorry, just kidding). I sat down with her and started talking about kids and work. A few moments later a few ladies showed up with our food. They came out in rectangular metal baskets with paper lining. Our fries rested atop this basket in a conical shaped basket with fries in each. My wife had and order of fries and the husker burger which came with cheese and A-1 . I ordered a double meat Baja burger and smash fries. It was a well played attempt to bring some class to the a common burger.

Smash fries, I must say, were a bit surprising. They are a seasoned fry, using oregano as their primary herb. They were hot, crispy and cooked to perfection. I really liked them. My wife’s fries were good too, but she didn’t have the seasoning. I would say that the smash fries are a win. My burger, the spicy baja, comes with pepper jack, guacamole, veggies, chippotle mayonnaise and jalapenos. I tore into this burger with a vengeance…. it was my breakfast after all. The meat was flavorful and you could see the wonderful crust on the meat from being smashed flat Each bit was seasoned and flavorful. I have to say I got lost in my food until I looked up to this person looking over the wall at me with a mouthful of burger bliss. I could tell by the fact that the line was moving slow and he wanted to try to find a seat. So I snapped out of it and began to rush through my food. My wife rushed through hers. As soon as we were done, we were ambushed by the wait staff trying to get us out the door.

Pluses: Darn good burgers. Great fries. Food came out fast

Minuses: SMALL dining area and not enough seating.

Overall Impression: It was a fantastic burger experience that I will do again. I would love to rate them higher but I felt we were rushed out to get out rable. They should have made it bigger from the start. I will suggest this place to anyone that wants a good burger.


Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 24 Nov 2009 @ 05:27 AM

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 27 Mar 2009 @ 5:40 PM 

Ok, so much for the stupid title.  Bella’s is a little Greek fast food place serving up Gyros, Burgers, Salads, and Philly Sandwiches.  They have more than that too… Just check out their website. 

That being said, I have been in and out of Bella’s as well as through their drive through.   They have a very small dining room, with booths and a bar with stools at the window for those on the go.   Now I don’t have one specific experience that I’m writing about here, since my wife has lived off of Bella’s for the majority of her pregnancy.  She’s brought me home Gyro salad after salad and burgers galore.  I have never once had an item from Bella’s that left me feeling like I got a mediocre meal or not worth what I paid.  I love their cheese burgers I have to say.  Honestly though… I have been eating a ton of their gyro meat salads.  I’m doing the whole low-carb thing and meat and lettuce work for me.  I have about 1 or two of them a week.

One of the things that struck me though, when I go through the drive through and when I dine in, is the fact that their kitchen is always clean.  Not just tidy, but clean.  Aren’t all Greek places supposed to be nasty?  I have never been sick from eating at Bella’s and I hope that never changes.

Ok, I know this isn’t a worth-while review.. I didn’t describe the food, but c’mon.  I am in drive through 99% of the time.  I will say this about Bella’s.  They are generous with their coupons, and the food is always hot and fresh.  I think the anyone wanting a good Gyro at a reasonable price would do well with Bella’s.

Plusses: CLEAN!  Good Value! Nice staff!

Minuses: the double drive through, where you pay at one side and pick up your food on the other is a little confusing.

Overall Impression:  I like the place and I would recommend it to anyone.  The menu is limited, but if you do something well, do over extend yourself.  The staff is nice; they didn’t hire the normal fast food idiots and morons that seem to be multiplying around Omaha. Good job Bella’s.  Keep it up.

~The Omaha Critic


Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 27 Mar 2009 @ 05:40 PM

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 29 Sep 2008 @ 3:20 PM 

Ok, since I finally remembered how to log into this thing, I’m going to write the first official Omaha Critic post written by The Critical Wife!  (Yes, you may applaud now.  ;-)  )

Early last week, I was driving in the area of 108th and Q, and noticed a sign for a restaurant I had not seen before.  The sign advertised “Cuba Linda”, a Cuban restaurant.  Fantastic!  My husband LOVES trying new restaurants and also loves Cuban food, so this would be a great choice.  Well – Sunday afternoon rolled around and we needed to find a place for a late lunch/early dinner.  We had a kiddo attending a birthday party at Zzzap! Laser Adventures, which is almost right across the street from the Cuba Linda restaurant, so it all seemed fortuitous that we give the restaurant a try.

When we entered the restaurant, I was impressed by the amount of time and attention that has gone into decorating the place.  Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s a very homey type of decoration.  The walls are painted the colors of the Cuban flag, the seats are draped with seat covers and tied with bows.  It’s just all very pretty and homey.  The bar in the corner is even more festive, and I’m sure, were I not pregnant, that a lovely Cuban cocktail would have really hit the spot!

From reading the menu, it seems that Cuba Linda has been in business since 1997, but it must have been at a different location.  In searching online, it appears that the current incarnation opened in March of 2007, so the restaurant does have some history behind it.  It was, however, new to us!

For our meal, we ordered a starter of chicken empanadas, which came out quickly.  I giggled a little bit at the use of ketchup lightning bolts to decorate the plate – but my giggles were soon replaced by groans of ecstasy.  Yes, my friends, they were THAT good.  The dough of the empanadas was fried crispy, and dusted with sugar.  Inside, the shredded chicken mixture blended with potatoes, green olives, corn, and some kind of seasoning, and it was all just truly lovely together.  I also have to admit, just a bit of ketchup with the empanada was exactly the right flavor!  It was fantastic. 

For the main course, we ordered arroz con pollo, seafood paella, green plantains with shrimp, and a Cuban pork sandwich.  My only complaint with any of the main dishes is that the rice in the arroz con pollo and paella was dry, but the flavor of everything was really good.  The arroz con pollo is served as yellow rice with spanish olives and onions, with a stewed chicken leg.  It is served in a combination platter with sweet plantains and a fried egg omelette.  The seafood paella, similarly, came stuffed with seafood – mussles and shrimp and all sorts of yumminess, along with the sweet plantains, refried smashed plantains (not sure what these were called) and the omelette. The green plantains are the fried sweet plantains, mashed, and then refried, with a red sauce and shrimp on the top.  Omaha Critic liked the green plantains, but the kids ended up just picking off the shrimp. The Cuban sandwich was stuffed with pork and cheese, and also was very fresh, hot, and tasty.  Of all of the dishes, the Cuban sandwhich was probably the easist for the kids to enjoy, as the flavors weren’t off their radar at all.  The plantains threw them a little!

The one thing we noticed about the restaurant as we sat enjoying our food was that literally EVERYONE around us was speaking Spanish.  At the time we were there, which was about 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon, there were two other tables with patrons, and another table at which either the owners or their friends were sitting.  There was conversation around the restaurant between the different tables, which gave the place a very friendly feeling, as if a bunch of good friends were just sitting around enjoying a meal. 

As far as prices go, Cuba Linda seemed fairly reasonable.  The appetizers ranged from about $3 to $7, and the main courses ranged from about $8 to $15.  Our total before tip for four entrees, one starter, and five drinks (non-alcoholic) was around $47, which we don’t consider to be too bad.  We all left quite full, and everyone, even our children, enjoyed their meal. 

I will complain slightly that we didn’t try the desserts, a grave error which WILL be rectified the next time we go!

Our server was very efficient and friendly, and although Spanish is obviously his primary language, he made every effort to make sure he understood our English.  We felt a little disappointed we couldn’t participate in more of the discussions going on in the restaurant, but it was fun to watch and listen to everyone else interacting.  Having the only English in the place spoken only at your table does make you feel that you’ve stepped into another world for a litte while!

Pluses: The food is a huge plus, everything was very tasty.  Service – our server was fun and friendly.  Ambiance – It’s obvious the owner has put a lot of time and energy into making the little homey restaurant look nice.

Minuses: Like I said, the rice was pretty dry.  The tables are fairly close together, but the restaurant is small.  I would imagine on a Friday or Saturday night, if the place is really busy, that it could feel really crowded.

Overall Impression:  I loved it.  It had a great atmosphere, and great food, and we will definitely go back again!  My rating overall is a solid 3.5 napkins, leaning toward 4. 

~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 29 Sep 2008 @ 03:25 PM

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 22 Aug 2008 @ 11:01 PM 

Yesterday was a rainy, icky, ugly day.  (At least in the morning.)  It was a day of discouraging personal news and the weather seemed to match our mood.  We went to a friend’s house and chatted about lunch.  Since my friend lives near mid-town we wanted to find something close.  That is when my wife suggested the Lithuanian Bakery on 74th and Pacific.  Hex (Our friend) and I didn’t care.  It was close and they supposedly had a Lithuanian Torte which we were all in love with so we shrugged and climbed into the Critic-Mobile.  I took it out of stealth mode and dove.

We pulled up to this old strip mall that had (or is) the site of McKenna’s, and in the corner was this little bakery.  The sign was half gone from the wind storms we’ve had here recently.  I think all it said was “Lithu”.  Anyway, it left me sad that they had not repaired it or at least taken it down.  So we walk in and see a counter full of pastries.  To the right, a set of shelves with various “old world” treats.  To the left was a small and unassuming dining area.  The three of us take a seat and start perusing the menu.

I have to admit, their menu is small.  It’s unassuming, uncomplicated, and unpretentious.  It is what it is.  A small shop selling some great food.  I ordered the “combo plate” that knackwurst, bratwurst, sauerkraut, and a potato salad.  My wife ordered the kielbasa plate and Hex ordered the Pastrami sandwich.  It wasn’t the prettiest food I’ve eaten, but the portions were good size and the flavor was spot on.  The sausages that I sampled had a very smooth and consistent texture and married very well with the mellow sauerkraut.  My wife’s kielbasa reminded me of sausages that I’ve had from small butcher shops in south Texas.  Very tasty and a little smoky.  Hex claimed that her pastrami and swiss was the best one she had ever had.  It was interesting, because it was one of the ugliest sandwiches I have seen.

Our server was attentive, and seemed to be proud of her little shop.  She was eager for our approval and lit up when we talked about how good it was.  We finished off with a slice (My wife and I shared while Hex had her own) of chocolate Lithuanian torte.  It was very flaky and done perfectly.  I wish I had a nice espresso or a cup o’ mud to go with it.  It was very rich and well prepared.  I will definitely go back for more.

Pluses: Good food at a very reasonable price.  The Sauerkraut wasn’t overpowering and was an excellent accompaniment to the sausages.  Our server was friendly and attentive.

Minuses: I wanted more sauerkraut on the plate, presentation needed a little work, and the sign out front needs fixing.

Overall Impression: I want to go back again and again.  I loved it.  I have to rate it fairly against others, so it won’t score on the high side.  The food took me back to my mothers cooking (when she took the time to do it like her mom).  The torte was to die for and I wanted to eat ALL the pastries that they had in the case.  Everyone was nice and friendly.  I went early on a Thursday so I don’t know how much business they do.  I would hope that after reading this you go try them out.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 22 Aug 2008 @ 11:13 PM

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 01 Aug 2008 @ 11:41 PM 

Lunch.. The final froti… ok.. it was lunch. As a matter of fact it was lunch at Absolutely Fresh Seafood/Shucks Oyster Bar. This is going to be brief. I want to elaborate, especially since I have been called “prejudiced” for bashing my server at Jazz, but it was only lunch and we were in and out in 35 minutes. So, I am going to run down some things kinda fast.

This the history as I know it for Absolutely Fresh Seafood: A few years back, there used to be this truck that was driven up from Louisiana to Omaha full of seafood. It was parked on the corner of 72nd and Dodge, and they used to sell out the entire semi over the weekend. This happened on some schedule that I could never quite figure out. I would buy boudin balls and boudin by the case as well as anything that seemed good at the time. Well, after a while of this someone thought that they should just open a shop in Omaha and fly everything in. Well, they did opened a shop down on 19th and Leavenworth Street and they have the best seafood for purchase in town. So after a while of doing great business, they opened a second location on 119th and Pacific Streets. They did great and wanted to something else. So using their seafood from the shop, and some awesome recipes from Louisiana (WHERE THEY WERE FROM), they opened Shuck’s Oyster Bar.

I have been to Shuck’s many times and I have to say that each time I go, the experience has been fantastic. The service is prompt, the food is out of this world, and the atmosphere is very “hole in the wall’. So much so, that they made a hole in the wall next to their seafood shop to put in Shucks. It’s awesome.

So today my wife and I went out for lunch. We walked in to the place and you can smell the fish, but it’s not overwhelming. You get exactly what it is. It IS a fish market with a oyster bar shoe-horned in it. Nothing pretentious about it. It is what it is. We take our seat at the paper covered table and are immediately greeted and asked for our drink order. There are about 20 or so tables and 3 servers. Each of which covered each others tables. So we get our drinks and place our order. Wife: Fish and chips. Me: Lobster roll and a cup of gumbo. After a few moments, my gumbo hits the table. It has a dark rich chocolate colored roux, with plenty of shrimp, okra, and andouille sausage. There was rice on top with a little file’ sprinkled over it. It has that ‘pop’ that just… MMMmmmm…. I liked the gumbo at Jazz, but it just wasn’t a flavor that went over the top. This had it. Just enough bite to make it warm you, but not to hurt you. The flavor was so deep, you could taste the layers that were built on the roux. It was awesome.

I have had many lobster rolls in my time. Typically they are lobster bits in some mayo on a dried out roll. Small, and just not that good. Today I have found a ‘moment’ on a bun. There were large chunks of fresh lobster claws. The bun was still warm and was toasted. The lobster sang through the mayonnaise instead of drowning in it. It had shredded lettuce that was still crisp and complimented the lobster. The whole experience of eating that thing left me teary eyed. It was a huge lobster roll with huge chunks of lobster in it on a very fresh toasted roll. I thought I was in heaven. It is a MUST HAVE again and again. Our service was spot on. Never an empty drink. The wait staff covered for each other (I said that before I know) and we were served quickly but never felt rushed. It was an A plus experience that I plan on repeating.

Pluses: Great service, great selection, Great GUMBO, and an awesome hole in the wall atmosphere.

Minuses: It’s a hole in the wall. (Yeah, plus and minus) and there was a smell of fish when you came in, but that’s to be expected… it IS a fish market.

Overall Impression: This is one of the great little ‘joints’ in Omaha and I plan on going back again and again. I would suggest the sampler platter appetizer. I had it before and if you like fried things.. MMmmmmm.. You’ll love it. I wish they had a bigger menu, but keeping it simple has kept the quality high and I would be sad if they did anything different. Perhaps an entrance other than into the fish market. I am going to rate this as 4 napkins because it’s a hole in the wall. The food though is a SOLID 5… the service us a SOLID 5… It’s just because of what it is… a hole in the wall.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 02 Aug 2008 @ 01:33 AM

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