It’s family style at Lombardo’s of Bay Ridge, but we’re not talking about the portions.
For owner Manny Lombardo, a Bensonhurst native, it’s all about the feeling of home and “keeping it simple.” To that end, mismatched seating, paper and plastic utensils, and even vintage collectibles line the restaurant, located just off of Third Avenue at 71st Street, an homage, Lombardo said, to his own elders.
“A lot of this stuff came from my mother’s basement,” said the owner, a longtime restaurateur who’d left the business to have a family. Now, with his children ages three and seven, he and his wife are all in on Lombardo’s.
He also pointed to an original “Casablanca” movie poster in the corner that came from his wife’s grandfather’s collection. “My wife is a teacher and she’s in here on the weekends running the floor, so when it came down to hooking up the phones, we said ‘What about T.V.s?’ and she said, ‘No, let’s get some board games.'”
And so, a stack of games — old and new — call another corner of the restaurant home.
“My wife said, ‘I don’t want to see people on their phones, I want to see them talking,'” Lombardo said. “And the parents, they thank me. They say, you know, ‘Usually my kids break my chops but they ate good and they played Candy Land.'”
As for the food, it was just as impressive as the eatery’s interior. Lombardo’s makes use of only the finest ingredients, all of which are cooked in its seasoned, Italian-imported stone flamed brick oven, bringing to life the perfect Italian artisan pizza.
First we sampled a Traditional Margherita pie ($22), which was topped with buffalo mozzarella and wood fired to perfection (so perfect that a reader – without knowing we had scheduled a dining review at Lombardo’s – e-mailed us to rave about it). Next we sampled the same traditional pie but topped with pepperoni (one of many add-ons available for just $3 a pop). The topping’s kick only upped the ante, each of us going back for seconds (and thirds – but who’s counting?).
Of course, that wasn’t all.
Next, we tasted two of Lombardo’s specials (which, the restaurateur said, change often) – one adorned with meatball and ricotta, another sprinkled with fennel sausage and roasted peppers. Both bursting with flavor – and substance, we couldn’t help ourselves. They were absolutely out of this world.
We can’t forget that to start, Lombardo brought us a bowl of the eatery’s Spring Mix Salad. Priced at just $9, the appetizer (or entrée, if you’re not into pizza) is topped with granny smith apples, sun dried cranberries, walnuts and an exquisite balsamic fig glaze. We loved it so much we almost forgot there was more coming.
Finally, against the will of our full stomachs, we dug into Lombardo’s already fan and kid-favorite Nutella Pie. Smothered in strawberries, whipped cream and – you guessed it – everybody’s favorite hazelnut spread, this dessert had the word “wow” written all over it. And it came home with us for seconds when we could squeeze them.
For now, Lombardo’s is in the process of trying to obtain its license to serve beer and wine, as well as its permits for sidewalk cafe seating — a bright side, the owner said, to being just off the avenue. “We really just want to generate business and make people happy,” Lombardo said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
LOMBARDO’S OF BAY RIDGE
279 71st Street
Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 5-11 p.m.
Thursdays and Fridays: 5 p.m.-12 a.m.
Saturdays: 12 p.m.-12 a.m.
Sundays: 12-9 p.m.