chef and a man

Mediterranean in Midtown

When opportunity knocks, it’s best to answer the door. That’s exactly how Della Costa in Midtown came to be. It’s one of restaurateur Ron Samuelson’s most recent endeavors, which he opened last May in partnership with his nephews Justin and Aaron Halbert. Following on his success with M’s Pub and Vivace downtown, and Herb Sainte in Aksarben Village, Della Costa was many years in the making with the right place and the right time finally coming to fruition.

In the former Brix location at Midtown Crossing, Della Costa offers numerous options for public and private dining. The main room can seat large parties with tables in a variety of configurations, the “Grotta di Nereo” private dining room can seat up to 50, and the outdoor patio overlooking Turner Park is perfect for any occasion. “It’s an easy space to come into and have a really nice dinner,” Ron said. The color scheme, local artwork, and fresh table flowers grown by Ron himself all add to the open comfort of the restaurant.

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Throughout his career, Ron has strived to making dining out “an event,” which is what it was when he was growing up. “Eating out was always celebratory, and I found restaurants to be a fun atmosphere,” he said. “It’s also about building relationships, the energy that people have when they’re enjoying a meal, and being creative in the kitchen.” That creativity is evident at Della Costa with the menu that Chef Shawn Phifer has perfected.

“Fresh, seasonal, interesting seafood” is how he described the dishes. But it’s what he strives for with every ingredient on a plate. “Each dish is highly composed,” he said. “Not because that’s what we have on hand or because the items look nice together. But because those ingredients are interesting and delicious when we’re done with them .” Shawn cooks with products and flavor influences from all different regions: Italian, Spanish, and French to name a few. “We take items that are easily accessible and familiar to people and make them unique.”

For example, the Mediterranean Burger isn’t just ground beef, but rather half beef and half lamb. “A burger is something people are used to eating, but we’ve put our own thumb print on it,” Shawn said. “And it’s one of the better burgers in town.” Some of Shawn’s other favorites include the Linguine di Mare with lobster and scallops, and pan-seared fish such as snapper served with lemon-thyme broth, pancetta, leeks, and heirloom tomatoes. Della Costa also has an in-house bakery, so breads are made fresh on site. In fact, they will be adding a Spanish style café within the restaurant that will serve soups, salads, sandwiches, pastries, and coffees.

Specials change seasonally on the menu and includes a year-round prix fixed menu that takes advantage of items from the local farmers markets as well as fresh fish flown in daily. Catering for private parties is another big part of Della Costa’s offering. “Shawn is gifted at listening to what people want for their event and giving them unique but reasonably priced options,” Ron said. His nephew Aaron is also a sommelier and brings in wines from the same regions that Shawn is drawing from for his dishes so that everything compliments each other perfectly.

In addition to being open for lunch, dinner, and corporate as well as special events, Della Costa is open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and has a happy hour menu and drink specials. “The Midtown neighborhood is a melting pot of people, and we felt the Mediterranean palette would be a good fit,” Ron said. “We like to think of Della Costa as a Chicago-style restaurant with Omaha prices. We have a beautiful space and great people who love to cook.”

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