This will be the LSU coach’s sixth trip to Omaha for the College World Series, five with LSU (2008, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017) and once with Notre Dame (2002). We asked him to tell us about some of his favorite places in “The Big O”:
Best place for Italian food
“Lo Sole Mio. It’s a family owned restaurant, good food. We take the family there soon after we get there. It reminds me of my favorite restaurant in South Bend (Indiana), Parisi’s.” Mainieri’s go-to dish: the veal parmigiana.
Favorite place to stay
The NCAA assigns teams their hotels instead of allowing them to make their own reservations like when LSU first started going to Omaha. Just so happens LSU was assigned to Mainieri’s favorite Omaha Hotel: the Embassy Suites in the Old Market, just about five minutes from TD Ameritrade Park. “You can go out of the hotel and walk anywhere.”
Mainieri’s favorite steakhouse, the Passport restaurant in the Old Market area, has closed. But he still has a favorite memory from there.
“The night before the championship series in 2009 I took my family to the Passport. We walk in and who’s eating with his entourage but Augie (Garrido, then Texas’ coach). We exchange pleasantries and we go sit on the other side. He sends a bottle of champagne over and I say, ‘Whatever he’s drinking, give him a bottle from me.’ On the way out I say, ‘Augie, thanks for the bottle. I’ll wait until Wednesday night (after the championship series) to open it.’ ”
Best place to get away from it all
Man does not live by baseball alone. Even a coach needs a little break sometime away from the ballpark with the family. For Mainieri it’s Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, adjacent to the site of the CWS’ former home, dearly departed Rosenblatt Stadium. “In 2009 we had three days off so we took the team to the Omaha zoo. It was behind right field at Rosenblatt, and it always intrigued me that it was right there.” A travel website in 2014 voted Henry Doorly the world’s best zoo.