On a busy day, Lombardi’s Restaurant makes hundreds of pounds of yeast dough—three different kinds—for their bread, pizza and focaccia. Even on a slow day, they make at least 50 pounds, and we should all be very glad. Go there now. Buy a loaf of their peasant bread—a 10” loaf with thick, hearty crust and a delicious chewy, elastic interior full of air holes. When you cut into this treasure you’ll feel as if you’re in a trattoria overlooking Saint Peter’s in Rome. I love to bake bread myself, and when asked, owner Paul Foti said he could share his mother-in-law’s recipe for the bread, but then he would have to kill me or his mother-in-law would kill him. Ah well. I prefer to live, and since this big loaf costs only $3.95, I’ll keep buying it from Lombardi’s. For those who like a lighter crust, there is also the “ring loaf” (also $3.95), equally delicious and somewhat resembling a very large biali.
In our household, we’ve discovered that we can jazz up a meal by bringing home an order of Lombardi’s fantastic garlic bread, and when we sit down and eat at the restaurant, I am a very, very happy person if I get their focaccia and an antipasto platter (salami, fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, etc., in a very generous serving at $11.95 for the small and $13.95 for the large). Focaccia, an Italian flat bread baked with your choice of herbs, garlic, tomato or other toppings, is like a cross between bread and pizza and ranges in price from $8.95 to $14.95, depending on what you want on it. There are a lot of focaccias in the world, most of them largely uninspired, but the Lombardi’s version manages to have just the right springy consistency on the inside, with just the right crunch to the crust. The pizza dough, too, is a cut above—crisp and delicious, with only the freshest ingredients as toppings—and their take-out pies range from $6.50 for a 10” personal, to $12.50 for an 18” large.
My Sicilian taste buds require a bit more oil than most, and if you decide to eat in, the folks at Lombardi’s are always happy to bring some extra extra virgin to the table.
All in all, the focaccia and the antipasto feed two of us (with hearty appetites) and leaves enough to bring home; all for under $35, even if I treat myself to their nifty wine sampler.
Lombardi’s has an extensive menu of traditional and in-novative Italian dishes, but that’s a story for another day. Meanwhile, head over to the corner of Route 44/55 and Bruynswick Road and order something—anything—made of dough. (Re-opening from holiday break on January 27th; thereafter 4pm-9pm Monday through Sunday; closed Tuesdays; 845 255-9779)