It has been almost a lifelong search for me to experience real Italian food. Not American-Italian, not Filipino Italian, but real Italian.
It was fortunate that I got invited by Lombardi's to have dinner at their 2nd branch, opened last month, at Shangri-la Mall New East Wing. The mostly-red restaurant wasn't difficult to spot even from afar. I love the modern yet rustic interiors of Lombardi's. It somehow reminded me of the restaurant makeovers in Kitchen Nightmares.
Most people in our group was pleasantly surprised that the guy behind the name Lombardi's is actually a real person: Chef Davide Lombardi (pronounced as Da-vee-dei). Chef Davide was born and raised in Milan, Italy, and is currently a chef instructor at the Center for Culinary Arts - Manila.
Before we were served the antipasti or appetizers, we were served the complimentary toasts with olive oil.
For Antipasti Freddi (Cold Starters), we were served Carpaccio Di Tonno (Php 390) and Carpaccio Di Manzo (Php 460).
Carpaccio is the Italian term for thinly-sliced raw meat or fish. Carpaccio Di Tonno is tuna with lemon, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and EVOO while Carpaccio di Manzo is beef marinated with lemon, olive oil, and fresh parmesan. Our table actually had a little argument because we initially thought the tuna was salmon. Both dishes are simple, fresh, and delicious.
For Antipasti Caldi (Hot Starters), we had Mozzarella In Carrozza (Php 230).
It is mozzarella, loaf bread with arrabbiata sauce and mixed green salad with arugula. Like the first two starters, this dish was gone in seconds. However, I wished it was toasted a little more.
Then we were served the pizzas. We first had Quattro Formaggi (Php 420) and Pizza Ai Salumi (Php 500).
Quattro Formaggi is topped with four types of Italian cheese: Provolone, Fontina, Gorgonzola, and Mozzarella while Pizza Ai Salumi has tomato sauce and mozzarella with Italian Hams: Prosciutto, Mortadella, Salame Milano and Coppa. I have the utmost love for anything meaty and cheesy hence these pizzas got me really impressed.
We were also served Alla Siciliana (Php 310) and Vegetariana (Php 310).
Alla Siciliana has tomato sauce, mozzarella topped with anchovies, capers, and black olives while Vegetariana is an all-veggie pizza with zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, and bell pepper. I love the salty kick of the anchovies on the Alla Siciliana and I liked the simplicity of the Vegetariana.
The pasta dishes are divided into two types: pasta secca (dry pasta) and pasta fresca (fresh pasta).
For Pasta Secca, we had Spaghetti Frutti Di Mare (Php 400) and Fettuccine Alla Carbonara (Php 340). Our carbonara was actually requested by a fellow foodie -- without the cream.
This is the take: authentic Italian carbonara has eggs, cheese, pancetta, and no cream. Our fellow foodie requested Chef Davide to whip him up the real carbonara and voila! Flavorful and filling even without the cream. I'll never look at carbonara the same way again.
For Pasta Fresca, we got Lasagne Della Casa (Php 310) and Tagliatelle Amatriciana (Php 380).
Lasagne Della Casa has stewed tomato, layers of bolognese, and a thick amount of bechamel sauce on top while Tagliatelle Amatriciana has stewed tomato, Italian pancetta, and basil. I was astounded by the bechamel sauce on the lasagne, it balances the acidity from the tomato perfectly.
Italian food isn't limited to pizza and pasta. They also have Tagliata di Manzo (Php 1200), imported thinly sliced seared ribeye steak, baked in the oven with rosemary and served with mashed potatoes and caramelized balsamic sauce.
It was served with a side sampler, which was supposed to be a surprise for the guest. (oops..hehe). Anyway, the steak was extremely tender and juicy.
Lombardi's has a variety of Italian wines and Italian beers, like the Moretti Baffo D'oro and Ortonese Sangiovese Merlot Daunia.
To finish our Italian dinner, we were served samples of Pannacotta Del Piemonte (Php 160) by Chef Davide.
I was ready to choose a scoop from the Gelato Della Casa (Php 120) on display, but then we were presented the Barca de Gelato.
Five scoops of different gelato flavors with whipped cream and other toppings, it definitely an awesome way to end a meal. I particularly liked the pistachio and the hazelnut.
I never thought I would get to find real Italian food without flying out of the country, but I think I found it here at Lombardi's. I may have overused the word 'simple' throughout this post, but nothing ever describes the dishes more perfectly than simple. With the freshest ingredients, one never goes wrong, like Lombardi's.
This place will get another visit from me soon.
Thanks to Mitzi Navarro, Kathleen Lombardi Eleazar, and Chef Davide Lombardi for having us.
Level 4, East Wing
Shangri-la Plaza Mall
Another branch is at Robinson's Magnolia