PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston March 2024

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Page 37 of 131

D allas-based restaurateur Alberto Lombardi h a s o p e n e d t h e second incarnation of Lombardi Cucina Italiana — the first is at The Star in Frisco — in the former stead of The Tasting Room in Uptown Park. You probably know Lombardi's name: The native of Northern Italy has worked more than 40 years in the restaurant industry and brought us Toulouse restaurant in River Oaks District, as well as 10 other dining concepts in the Dallas area, Austin, Atlanta, and even Mexico. At Lombardi Cucina Italiana, amid interiors bathed in shades of ivory, cozy demi-lune style sofas pull up to white-cloth- covered tables illuminated by Venetian- glass chandeliers. Plaster walls envelop the dining room, where a pair of mighty old- growth olive trees take root center stage. On a pretty spring day, diners and day drinkers alike will gravitate to the expansive patio to sip an Italian G+T (Bombay gin, orange THE NEW LOMBARDI CUCINA ITALIANA By Laurann Claridge. Photography Samantha Reynolds. Above: Lombardi Cucina Italiana in Uptown Park. marmalade, lime, and smoked rosemary, $14) or perhaps Barolo by the glass ($18). The menu features traditional Italian favorites inspired by regions north, south, and places in between, but we especially enjoyed the inventive tangents taken by Italian-born chef Stefano Ferrero. Instead of the much-played Caesar salad, the dinner menu offers a playful take on a cacio e pepe salad made with spears of baby gem lettuce and tossed with a pecorino-and-black- pepper dressing inspired by the famed pasta dish ($16). Shareable appetizers include carciofi and zucchine fritti, perfectly fried artichokes and zucchini chips accompanied by a chilly whipped ricotta dip ($18). Next visit, I'll try the Wagyu meatballs, slow-cooked in tomato sauce with grilled sourdough bread — a sort of deconstructed meatball sandwich ($24) — or the prosciutto and INSPIRED ITALIAN burrata, the 24-month- aged prosciutto di parma cut on the gleaming red slicer in the dining room, served tableside with roasted red peppers ($30). I adored the carpaccio di scampi, a shellfish take on carpaccio made with paper-thin slices of Argentinian red shrimp dressed with light citrus vinaigrette ($29). At Lombardi, the pasta is handmade in-house (with gluten-free options, too). Who doesn't love a tableside show. Or, for that matter, the buttery, delicate flavor of Italian grana Padano cheese. Yes, please. Request tagliolini and tartufo, and a waiter will toss those thin strands of noodles around and around in the cheese wheel then crown it with shavings of fragrant fresh black truffle ($48). Other pasta dishes range from a rustic-cut fazzoletti with creamy pesto, pine nuts, and burrata cheese ($28) to risotto al limone and capesante with seared sea scallops napped in a Prosecco butter sauce ($40). Entrees include cioppino Mediteranno, the classic fisherman's stew made with a tomato base doused with Calabrian chiles to bring up the heat and bits of white fish, shrimp, clams, scallops, and blue mussels, with spears of sourdough bread to soak up the sauce ($48). Our Colorado lamb scottadito was herbed, marinated, and seared to a perfect medium rare — don't you dare order it any other way — with stalks of broccolini and mashed potato au gratin ($68). Sweet finales include pistachio tiramisu with nary a dusting of cocoa powder in sight ($14) and Lombardi's clever take on an edible old-fashioned cocktail, the Monte Cristo: a deconstructed dessert featuring creamy milk chocolate budino (essentially, Italian chocolate pudding) topped with cubes of whiskey jelly and an edible caramel-cream-filled "cigar" with delicious chocolate-cookie-crumble ashes ($15). It's completely worth the splurge. Lombardi Cucina Italiana, 1101 Uptown Park Blvd., 36

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