Caniglia family's history in Omaha restaurant scene spans nearly a century - Omaha.com
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Third generation owners, from left: Bob Caniglia, Chuck Caniglia and Ron Caniglia at Caniglia's in 2002.


Caniglia family's history in Omaha restaurant scene spans nearly a century



Here's a run-through of the family history.

The Parents

Giovanna and Cirino Caniglia were born in Carlentini, Sicily, and married in Omaha in the 1910s. They ran the bakery his father began in Omaha's Little Italy neighborhood, and had a daughter and five sons. The sons helped build and operate Caniglia's Pizzaria, which later became a full-service steakhouse called the Original Caniglia's, near Seventh and Pierce Streets in 1946.

The Children

Grace Caniglia married Tony Piccolo Sr., and together they founded Piccolo Petes in 1934. They lived in an apartment above the restaurant until her death in 2008. Her son, Tony Jr., ran the restaurant, and then in 1999 her daughters Donna Sheehan and Dee Graves, took over. The two women operate Piccolo's today.

Ross Caniglia opened the short-lived Palazzo 'Taliano with his brothers Lou and Al in 1960. In the early 1970s, he took over the Original Caniglia's. He died in 1997, and his three sons, Ron, Chuck and Bob, operated the restaurant until it closed in 2005.

Lou Caniglia opened Little Luigi's in 1979 and Luciano's in 1989 along with other restaurants, all now closed. He died in 1990.

Nuncio “Eli” Caniglia got the idea for the family's pizzeria before he returned home from military service in World War II. When he got back to Omaha, he told his parents that the cucurene — a thin, usually double-crusted pastry containing cheese and whatever meats and vegetables were lying around that the family made with dough scraps at the bakery — was a big hit in Baltimore, where it was called pizza. He opened Caniglia's Venice Inn in 1957 and died in 1983. His sons Chuck and Jerry operated the restaurant until its planned closure, in 2014.

Sebastiano “Yano” Caniglia bought a drive-in in 1953 and opened it as the Royal Boy in 1954. In 1970, he turned it into Mister C's Steakhouse. The restaurant closed in 2007 and he died in 2013.

Al Caniglia's opened Al Caniglia's Drawing Room in Millard in 1971, the Top of the World at Woodmen Tower (with brother Lou) and other Omaha-area restaurants, all now closed.

-- From The World-Herald archives


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