We were told that it was first-come, first-serve and no reservations were allowed, so we showed up a little early. The only spot they had for us were on stools right across from the hostess stand (i.e. right by the door). It was that packed!
Lombardo's is right below the Paramount / Scotiabank Theaters, between Azia and Earl's. Offering an assortment of pizzas, pastas, and chicken entrees, I'm sure a lot of people drop by for a bite before or after an evening movie. When you walk in, you enter the bar area, and have a great view of the wood-fired pizza oven. Looking up, you'll see a half-floor balcony above, with wrought-iron detail. It makes for an energizing, lively decorum, and the restaurant is well staffed and run.
We ordered an assortment of pizzas and pastas: Pizza Contadina, with ripe tomatoes, mozza, ham, salami, mushrooms and sliced green peppers, gnocchi with creamy meat sauce, baked lasagna, and Al Due Formaggi pizza, with tomatoes, two cheeses (we were guessing mozza & quark?), salami, ham and mushrooms. R also ordered some foccacia.
The foccacia looked great - light, bubbly, with herbs on top and a side of balsamic and olive oil on the side for dipping. I ordered gnocchi; while the texture of the gnocchi was a perfectly chewy and tender, it seemed to have been under-seasoned. There was no salt! Barring that, the creamy meat sauce that the waiter suggested was great. Chunks of meat in a hearty rose sauce, garnished with parsley. It was incredibly filling too - I packed a portion of it to go. Meanwhile, Ike who had ordered the same dish as I finished every last morsel on his plate.
H ordered lasagna. I told her that once I heard that we were going to an Italian restaurant, I *knew* she'd be having lasagna! She seemed to appreciated it, but from where I was sitting, it was a little burnt on one side.
J & O ordered the pizzas. These boys are definite carnivores - the pizzas arrived in tandem were thin-crusted creations with delicately sliced toppings. I'd made pizzas at home all week, so I just didn't feel like pizza, but if I had the chance to go again, I'd probably order a pizza.
R also ordered a tiramisu - she said it was extremely creamy and she could taste the rum. At one point, she said it was almost like butter - "I can't believe it's not bu-aaaah!" lol!
Sadly, Lombardo's downtown location will be closing on June 15th, 2009. The restaurant will be renovated, and a new menu and a new facelift, Lombardo's will opened under a new name. If you get a chance, try them out before they close!
970 Smithe Street [map]