Our friends Fay and Mark Graham introduced me and my husband, Joe, to Lombardo’s. They have been regulars since before the restaurant moved to its newer, more spacious quarters (from around the corner on 79th Avenue North) to a spot that fronts on U.S. 17 Business.
It’s easy to understand why this place is dear to their hearts. Joe and I came away from our meal there deciding to add it to our list of good places to eat Italian food on the Grand Strand. We also added it to another list – a place to eat small plates at the bar before the theater or when small plates are all that is wanted.
We had a reservation for 6 p.m., and the table was ready early, but we waited at the bar for our friends to arrive. The decor of the bar-area displays is artful and welcoming, and you can look out into the spacious dining room. The wine list has a good number of Italian wines, but other European countries and the United States also are well-represented.
Owner/chef John Lombardo uses his family’s traditional Italian recipes in all of his dishes, and the success of that strategy is confirmed by the taste of his wonderful Italian specialties. It’s homemade, but with the additional panache Lombardo provides. Eggplant rollatini, a small plate, is what I ordered on our most recent visit. I wanted to eat light, so I combined that small plate order with a side salad. The appetizer portion was large as well as delicious. Lombardo’s slices their eggplant thicker than I do at home, but it was cooked perfectly (until tender!). The filling of real ricotta was creamy and lightly seasoned, and the tomato sauce on top was applied in just the right amount, a perfect complement to the eggplant and ricotta combo.
The menu is not huge, but the variety and quality are great. For those of you who do not eat veal, all of the veal dishes can also be prepared using beef or chicken. I’m sure the steaks and other non-Italian specialties on the menu are tasty, too, but I admit it is hard for me to pass up an Italian presentation.
My friend Faye’s favorite menu item is the sausage-stuffed peppers – mini sweet peppers filled with seasoned sausage mix and baked with mozzarella on top, then served on a bed of marinara sauce. On this particular night, she and Mark also tried a salmon daily special that they proclaimed “delicious.” The seafood highlights local catch with Italian preparation. I am looking forward to sampling the flounder pizzaiola (from the regular menu) on a future visit. And maybe those stuffed peppers!
The Lombardo’s website says, “Bring the whole family to enjoy the same recipes my family has enjoyed for over 50 years.” I say, “Good advice! And be sure to make a reservation.”
If you eat
What | Lombardo’s Bistro
Where | 7604 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach
Hours | 4-10 p.m. daily
Contact | Reservations, 497-6699; www.lombardosbistro.com