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In a word: Quality and comfort from pizza and pasta.

The specs: #0335
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Madison Originals profile; reviews at JSOnline, Yelp, Food Racket, Lectori Salutem, 77Squareofficial web site, Lombardino's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Latest Lombardino's news and reviews

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.


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In my experience, Lombardino's is best when eating from the rotating seasonal part of the menu - while there are a few classics that stand up (the orchiette with broccoli rabe and sweet sausage, and the aforementioned bolognese particularly) they really shine when using the seasonal ingredients. I've had a winter duck soup there that was one of the highlights of my eating career, a lovely spring veal tenderloin, and a trio of gelati during the summer that are unsurpassed in town (the brown butter gelato was partcularly fabulous). I've found their more standard fare, particularly the desserts like tiramisu, chocolate tart, etc, a little on the uninspiring side. And I agree - skip the pizza, it's not their forte.

Best salads in town!!!

A very good if slightly overpriced dinner. The eggplant was nice but the portion was small. The calamari was very fresh but a little over-breaded and there was a bit too much horseradish in the tomato sauce. A little can add some nice heat to calamari, but a lot will overwhelm the tomato sauce's natural sweetness. The shrimp were delicious but for over $20 I would expect more than we got. Have to demur from the review on the tiramisu, I thought they were wonderfully nuanced and flavorful, if not overly strong in flavor. Recommended but only for special occasions.

The first dinner my wife and I had in Madison was at Lombardino's. We were staying in the Best Western Inn Towner, and after a long and disappointing day house hunting we wandered across the street for dinner. Given the building exterior, imagine our surprise when we were presented with a wonderful Lombardino's meal! I still remember the curried chocolate mousse dessert as one of the best I've ever had. It made us glad to be moving to Madison, so Lombardino's will always have a warm place in my heart.

Wow, I am completely surprised that you gave this restaurant anything close to an A. I went there twice this winter (the second time only because there was so much glowing praise heaped on this restaurant, I thought maybe I just hit them on a bad night). Both times ALL of the food was greasy, salty, and boring. I ordered mussels with linguini and could barely detect the mussel flavor through all of the salt! The braised short rib tasted like old pot roast, and the tuna was not consistently cooked through the piece. That said, their pastas (like, the actual noodles, not what goes on top) are quite well done.

You're surprised at the A's, given all the glowing reviews you yourself have read/heard? I'd think you'd be surprised at how much you don't like it.

Lombardino's is very near the top of the long list of places I need to get to.

I'd like to say that my wife and I have enjoyed meals at Lombardino's for several years, and it's one of our absolute favorite restaurants anywhere. Our 19 and 21-year old daughters wholeheartedly agree. Their calamari sets the standard in town, and their seasonal stuff is almost universally wonderful. On the dessert front, the boca nera is a chocolate lover's dream.

We love the place!

Just want to say that we had a wonderful dinner here over restaurant week. I love it when places like this actually get better with time.

We finally made it to Lombardino's tonight. I may indeed have a new favorite restaurant. The service was great, the calamari has set a new standard for me, my free range veal saltimbocca with bufala mozzarella was sublime, and when I die, I want to be interred in a vat of the panna cotta. I will let my better half wax rhapsodic about his meal, save to say that he described my panna cotta as ethereal. If I were to have a Groundhog Day experience, this night would be second only to my wedding day.

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