Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >
Jun 27, 2007 05:32 PM

Cafe Lombardi - Terrible 1/2 star

We decided to try a local ristorante today, Cafe Lombardi.

The atmosphere and menu looked good online.

In person - the atmosphere is very bad, too loud - the tables are very close together. The noise was overwhelming. The tablecloths were like home, flannel and vinyl. No background music.

The service was mediocre/appalling. - we were not asked if we wanted more water, more bread, or how our appetizer was. Our server did not introduce herself. They sat us near the kitchen (which was fine) but out of all the waitresses working only one continually banged the back of my chair each time she came out (her name is Jen). When i asked if that was necessary i was told it was and she proceeded to bang it harder. So we asked to be moved and we were moved but we weren't given the first available table and they expected us to move all our drinks and cutlery.

The menu is very deceptive - in that it bills a la carte items as an Entree....
My Entree was Chicken Marsala for 13.95 - This consisted of 1 chicken breast cut in 3 pieced and pounded paper thin. An extra to this was a piece of chicken bone i discovered when i found something go crunch.

In my mind an Entree consists of a Meat and a side or two - typically perhaps a meat/carb/veg. Not at Cafe Lombardi, these things all must be ordered seperately, unless you order chicken/veal parm. (This is not spelled out on the menu).

Additonally the prices on the web are not the prices in house.

Another item we ordered was Chicken parm, I'm glad i didn't order it, it tasted deep fried.
Another item that was surprisingly good was Rigatoni with lump crab. The same people who were so cheap with the chicken were expansive with the crab.

The sauces were good but a little oily.
When we asked for our pasta al dente we were told that it couldn't be done as all the pasta is cooked ahead of time.

Doesn't all that make you want to rush there?
I have a feeling the new Ristorante opening up the road will take a lot of their business.

If not may i recommend instead of this nightmare:

Macaroni Grill Montgomeryville or Willow Grove- A chain but - a quality chain.

Boccelli's in Lower Gwynedd

La Vita E Bella Ristorante
914 Limekiln Pike
Maple Glen, PA 19002

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I see your point. I have been to Lombardi's fairly often. While I do think the food is pretty good, the service, atmosphere, and portions have a bit to be desired. It is still very popular and has a huge following of regulars. My in-laws love the place! I think it is just one of those places that certain people who are older, or are looking for a family type restuarant, enjoy. That is, if you typically go to Fridays, or the Diner, for your big night out, then Lombardis is great by comparison :)

    If you are looking for good family type italian, I agree there are many better options in the area. I can't say I agree with the rec for Macaroni Grill (I'm a chain-o-phobe), but the others are very good. I'd also add Cafe La Fontana in Hatboro and Caruso's in Huntingdon Valley. Go further out towards Ambler/Springhouse/Montgomeryville, and the options triple.

    What is the new italian restaurant that is opening? I have not heard of anythin. I'm intrigued!

    1 Reply
    1. re: AmblerGirl

      ristorante mediterraneo is what's going in there... saw the colors/design for the new place and it looks like it should be a far cry from the current red/gold old-school feel.

    2. Can you tell us where this restaurant is located?

      1 Reply
      1. re: mschow

        Horsham Pa....I ate here 2 times.....I thought it was not only cold and dank, but the food was not good. I cant understand why anyone would recommend this place. It reminds me of one of those "american -trying to do real Italian" places. Reminds me of lousy bar food....

      2. regarding the atmosphere, it just kind of is what it is. it's not upscale/white-tablecloth, it's a noisy, crowded, local italian place. personally, it doesn't bother me. i have always been very happy with what i've had there...

        ristorante mediterraneo (now across the street, in the shopping center) is the restaurant that is building/moving down the street. it is more upscale, and the food is excellent if you've never been.

        2 Replies
        1. re: missfunkysoul

          I'm a huge fan of Ristorante Meditteraneo and last time my husband and I were there we were talking to the bartender and a server about the new building that is under construction. Later I noticed that the sign on the new place says "Buona Via", so I am wondering if anyone knows whether or not the menu will be changing as well?

          As for Lombardi's, I've been there many times, usually as a last resort when we failed to make reservations someplace else or didn't feel like waiting in line at a chain. It is definitely lacking in atmosphere and the food can often be bland and under-portioned. Once in a while they serve up a special that's pretty decent, but that's about it. I much prefer Ristorante Mediterraneo or Arpeggion in Springhouse. Allegro Grill in Maple Glen is usually pretty good, too, but can be hit or miss.

          1. re: janiceliv

            Have you ever tried Graeme Park Pizza & Cafe in the little shopping center at the corner of Rte 611 and County Line Road? It's just a short drive from Lombardi's. They are surprisingly good! Don't let the outside throw you. They are so much more than a pizza joint! Their pasta dishes are incredible (the gnocchi is a sure hit every time!) and include a salad...not to mention the garlic knots are to die for. They're a really nice alternative to the chains.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. oh your review made me laugh!!!

            last time i heard from the server the pasta was cooked ahead of time (also an answer to an al dente request) was... wait for it... the spaghetti warehouse! :) (we knew what we were in for)

            7 Replies
            1. re: rabidog

              That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard to say that all chicken parm is deep fried... maybe that's the case at shoemaker restaurants. A proper chicken parm is dusted with seasoned flour and pan sauteed. This is another example of the bastardazation of cuisine and culture.

              1. re: sanfrantransplant

                My husband LOVES Cafe Lombardi, and will almost always pick it as his go-to restaurant if we decide to go out on the spur of the moment. I think it's one of those places where a lot of people do the same because we see what appear to be a lot of "regulars" when we go. It is what it is. We've always had good service, and good food (not great), but it IS very crowded and IS very noisy. I've often thought that the owners would do well to put a little noise dampening stuff on the walls and ceiling, however there is a cost involved and whatever they are doing now seems to be working. They appear to have no shortage of customers.

                Vita Bella in Maple Glen is a nice little place -- very good food, but lacking in atmosphere. Definately not as noisy as Lombardi's, but your basic pizza parlor with a lot of seating. The food, however, is many cuts above pizza parlor.

                Haven't been to Bocelli's a a while, but have VERY fond memories of it. Very cute little place with very good food.

                1. re: sanfrantransplant

                  "Shoemaker"....spoken like a true chef! Anyone deep frying chx parm should be handed a cigarette then shot.

                  Here's the thing with pre-cooked pasta....I would guess that most restaurants (who aren't using fresh pasta) pre-cook their pasta. At least any place that's selling a lot of it. However, this is NO excuse for overcooked pasta. Any "Italian" restaurant should be serving al dente pasta. Pre-cooking isn't as heinous as it may sound.....but overcooked is overcooked no matter what the reason. It's very simple and reasonable to do pre-cooked that is served al dente.

                  1. re: Major504

                    Indeed, I recall being told by David Ansill that his - and almost all kitchens - parcooked their pasta back when he was at Lucy's Hat Shop.

                    The key is that they only cook it halfway beforehand, finishing it while reheating for serving.

                    1. re: Major504

                      without going too far off on a tangent... just curious... how do you pre-cook pasta but then also serve pasta that is both hot and al dente? this would come in mad handy at my big family & friends thanksgiving spectacle. :)

                      *edit* haha, nevermind, question answered above!! though if you care to elaborate please feel free... do you drain it? how to keep it from continuing to cook?

                      1. re: rabidog

                        You cook the pasta in the normal fashion....but plunge it into a bath of ice water to stop the cooking (like your green veggies..aka "shocking"). Toss it with a bit of oil to keep it from sticking. It should be only that when it gets heated again at the time of service it will be al dente.

                        1. re: Major504

                          woohoo thanks! i'm going to have to test this out. :)