claudia kwan/for metro vancouver
Lombardo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant
970 Smithe (and Burrard))
Open at 11 a.m. daily
Dinner for two, including tax, tip and drinks: $57.50
***1/2 (out of 5)
On the hunt for a late night nosh after an evening at a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performance at the Orpheum, we head up to the mini-restaurant corridor on Smithe anchored by a massive Earl’s. Since we want to preserve the Bach and Brahms filling our heads a little longer, a pulsating Top 40 soundtrack simply will not do. Instead, we head into Lombardo’s for some brick oven pizza and pasta.
This satellite of the Lombardo’s on Commercial set up shop downtown almost four months ago, and it’s retained a lot of the laid-back vibe of the original ’hood. The simple, serviceable furniture comes in a common palette of dark brown and black, with taupe walls. An overhead balcony space contains additional seating, and double-height glass windows let you watch the traffic rolling by.
Texture-wise, the baby squid are bang-on, but they would have been much better with some garlic, salt, or spice to add flavour. The sauce for my perfectly al dente penne purports to be made out of white wine, garlic, and cream, but it’s also uni-dimensional. At least it has a generous portion of scallops and tail-on prawns to lean on.
The thin crust on the pizza is as good as it ever was, and the capricciosa is a slam-dunk favourite, with salami, ham, artichokes, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. If I had known that the four left-over pieces were going to be rolled up into a foil bag for us to take home instead of a box, thus rendering the beautiful crust soggy, I would have taken advantage of the half-size options on the menu and only ordered enough to eat in the restaurant.
It’s tough to serve customers in a nearly empty restaurant late on a Monday night — check in too often, and you’re being intrusive; stay away too long and guests are thirsty and waiting for their payments to be processed. Hopefully staffers will gain this fine balance with experience.
At Lombardo’s, you know what you’re getting for a reasonable price. It’s a selling point it will need when there’s so much competition so close by in this new neighbourhood.