In a word: Quality and comfort from pizza and pasta.
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JM ate the pizza Lombardino with a Sprecher.
Nichole ate the asparagus alla Milanese, the spaghetti alla Bolognese, a macchiato and a glass of wine.
We split the cannoli.
The bill was $56, or $28/person, plus tip.
JM gave Lombardino's an A-; Nichole gave Lombardino's an A+ (see our grading rubric).
Lombardino's is a moodily-lit cloth-napkin affair. A place that prides itself on its ability to serve quality nosh at mostly reasonable rates to both "tourists" and local clientele in kind. Of course, mood lighting makes non-flash photos not work so great, but the drop curtain in front of the door that normally blocks out the sun also enveloped a warmth and homey feeling on a cold, rainy night. This was most welcome after an admittedly rough run of L restaurants.
The excellent service really distinguishes Lombardino's. From the time we were greeted to the hostess' offer of extra anise candies on the way out, we were treated to expert but relaxed hospitality.
Nichole asked our server for a "spicy" red wine, and got a Syrah & Nero d'Avola "Benuara," a perfect recommendation. JM was sad they didn't have lemonade, which appears to be a seasonal offering, but enjoyed a Sprecher nonetheless. A basket of warm bread from the brick oven arrived pillowy soft and sweet. It was paired with a very high-quality olive oil that punched that bitter tastebud Nichole likes.
Nichole, in fact, liked just about everything about Lombardino's. When our server set down her starter of asparagus alla Milanese, she said "you'll love this," and she was right. The subtle citrus note and bitter frisee perfectly balanced the rich egg (nothing beats an organic egg, ho ho) and lightly salty, tiny, tender spears of asparagus. Nichole was happy she saved a piece of bread to sop up the yolk, even if doing so was gauche.
Spaghetti alla Bolognese seemed like a good choice for an entree on this depressingly cold spring (ha!) night, both as comfort food and to see how the place did a classic dish. A huge portion arrived with a good balance of noodles and sauce. The ground beef and pork were the most tender we'd ever had in a meat sauce, simmered no doubt for a long time in an understated, sweet tomato base.
JM cannot report the same 100% satisfaction. He's not really complaining so much as he is unsure whether he was unclear on the concept. His pizza experience was for the most part best described as oily. While the arugula provided a good contrast, it wasn't quite enough to diffuse the almost overbearing oil and salt elements. He would have used, perhaps, a different cheese. The crust on the 'za, however, was faboo. The oiliness made him feel that the pizza was not quite Cafe Porta Alba quality, its nearest competitor, but still good.
Sadly, the trio of cannoli were a bit of a letdown. They were not as crispy or flaky as one would like, and discerning the almost too-subtle flavors of chocolate, pistachio and strawberry was a bit like playing 3-cannoli monte. JM thought they were quite good, especially the more delicate flavors. The chocolate cannoli had an almost nutmeg flavor, but not much chocolate to it.
To accompany the cannoli, Nichole had a macchiato. When asked if they had whole milk, our server replied, "All I have is whole milk," securing Lombardino's a place in Nichole's heart forever. A tiny cup of perfect espresso was forthcoming, topped with a light froth infused with the coffee's flavor. It came with a tiny pistachio biscotto.
So, Lombardino's. You should probably go there sometime.