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May 6, 2009 09:53 AM

Marcello or Lombardo's on Commercial - Vancouver

Which has the better pizza? The better pasta? Need to decide before our next pilgrimage to Commercial street.

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  1. This is a tough one to answer....nowadays, neither would be my pick.

    Marcello's has better pizza - the other food is not good and the service is utterly atrocious. I refuse to go back after one particularly disastrous evening there a few years back. I hear it has not changed at all. BTW Marcello still uses charcoal to heat his oven.

    Lombardo's used to have great pizza - they have slipped badly of late. I was there recently, and their oven was clearly not hot enough resulting in a pale, flavourless crust. It was at lunchtime, maybe they do better during dinner when the pizza oven ( converted to gas) is on full blast all the time.

    If I had to choose between the two - it would be Lombardo's.

    N.B. Marcello used to be the pizzaiolo at Lombardo's before the divorce.

    1. I agree with fmed's comments. Lombardo's downtown is terrific but the location on the Drive has tanked over the last six months - neither the pizza nor the calamari are up to snuff. Technically, Lombardos and Marcello are using the same recipes but I'd give Marcello the edge on food quality. Also, I hate the room at Lombardos - it's too much like sitting in a food court. Edge to Marcello on that one too. Service - Lombardos would have to take that one - Marcello is infuriatingly slow and the waitstaff dish out attitude. If you have the option of choosing when you get there - if Marcello isn't completely packed out - go there, otherwise to the Il Mercato it is!

      2 Replies
      1. re: hrhsheba

        We tried the Lombardo's downtown last year about this time and were underwhelmed. It is a nice if somewhat generic room with a mezzanine seating area that could be fun if they have sorted out their HVAC issues (we boiled even though it was not that warm out). The pizza was okay but we felt pricey for what it was. Haven't been to the Commercial Drive outpost BTW...

        1. re: grayelf

          What a riot! Every time I've been in there, I've had to leave my coat on it's been freezing (maybe they took your comments to heart) :) So, based on your comments, you will heading to Marcello if you make it down to the Drive.

      2. I am fiercely in the Marcello's camp. I find their pizza to be far and away better than Lombardo's -- Marcello's crust is perfect, while Lombardo's gets too thick and, therefore, weirdly gooey. Marcello's also has some excellent pasta dishes -- their gnocchi is some of the best I've had outside of Italy and their linguine w/ clams is always delcious. I also enjoy their salads and appetizers (excellent caprese salad, calamari is delish).

        The service can be a little rough for sure, but I find the quality of the food to be head and shoulders above Lombardo's.

        1. Marcello's all-the-way, IMHO... Take what I have to say with a grain of salt as I'm not a local... I can only visit these places when I'm in town a few times a year. I've been to both places on the Drive a few times over the last few years. I definitely enjoy the decor at Marcello's as it's tastefully done over Lombardo's. And I agree with the previous post that at Lombardo's you feel like you're sitting in a food court.

          As for the food, I didn't find the pizza at Lombardo's to be all that great... not even when I tried it a few years ago (never mind the slip in standards as mentioned by the previous post). The crust at Lombardo's was soggy/gooey whereas at Marcello's it was perfectly crisp each time I've been there. Keep in mind, I always order the same pizza (prosciutto and funghi) so it has nothing to do with the toppings making it soggy.

          The pasta at Marcello's is very consistent each time I went. It was always cooked al dente... never overcooked.

          As for the service.. I have read about the bad service at Marcello's... however, I didn't think it was that bad... On my recent visit this past January, I did notice one of the servers wasn't all that friendly and seem to have a little attitude.. However, I didn't really mind... When I go to Marcello's, it's because I really want to have their pizza and pasta... As long as they get my order right and the food comes out in a timely fashion and the food is fresh and tasty, I'm not that picky with their service as long as they are not blatantly rude or obnoxious. When I go there, it's not like I'm expecting fine dining type of service. If I did, I would go to a fine dining establishment. When I go there, I'm of the mindset that I'm not really expecting superb service (no different than when I go to some of those joints in Chinatown)... I just want quality, tasty fresh food in a timely fashion. I keep on going back to Marcello's when I'm in town because I can't find pizza and pasta as tasty as theirs here in Calgary.

          4 Replies
          1. re: miss.foodie

            I'll definitely concede that Marcello makes much better pizza. I have "three strikes you're out" rule for restaurants....they struck out (service and food). We were served wilted greens, mealy tomatoes (signs of refrigeration), hard, old focacia, and undercooked pasta. A couple of times we waited forever to get served, get our bill...our server just disappeared...another server would not communicate to our server that we needed service. I did complain and they treated me like I was being a trouble maker.

            I can't in good conscience recommend it. However, I am glad you had at least a decent meal there. I may have been unlucky.

            1. re: fmed

              fmed, i'm so sorry to hear that you've had such a bad experience at Marcello's... esp. all in the same meal. If I had that same experience as what you had, I would never go back either... and definitely wouldn't recommend it to others. I know you have high standards (I'm a big fan of your posts) as do I.... I've tried a bunch of places based on your comments here on CH and been very happy with the results.

              As for Marcello's.. I'll keep on going back for their pizza when I'm in town... until one of these days I encounter the bad service and bad food.. and then they will have "struck out" with me as well.

              1. re: miss.foodie

                Thanks miss.foodie. I have lived in the Commericial Dr area for a couple of decades now and I have followed the Lombardo/Marcello's soap opera. I live within a few minutes walking distance from both restaurants. I tried to keep my options open so I patronized both places for a while for years. I had a number of disappointing experiences at Marcello but kept coming back because of the pizza....then three really bad experiences in a row. No more. I do miss that pizza though.

                Lombardo's decline was slow...but accelerated when they opened their new downtown location.

                1. re: fmed

                  Sad to hear about the decline... That used to be some great pie! People would come into Van pretty much just to go to Lombardo's.

                  I worked at Lombardo's back in '95 and it was a soap opera then, too.
                  Sunday night was "staff night." When "Marshmallow" would take the night off.

                  Much more relaxed and smoother running without "The Falcon" in house to amp up the tension!

          2. Marcello's food is better than Lombardo's IMHO. But Marcello's service sucks big time :-(

            9 Replies
            1. re: LotusRapper

              LR, reviving an old thread?
              the lambardo's in DT (Scotia theaters) is now iirc Pacific Pizza. They sold it a couple of years ago, though it's possible he may have some equity in it.
              I actually likes the roast chicken at Marcello's too besides the pizza.
              But like Fmed the inconsistencies at the food was the reason I have not returned.

              Wonder if the new 'Neopolitan" pizza joints will hurt their business.

              1. re: betterthanbourdain

                Bumped this thread after being part of a similar discussion on a different blog, you know ? ;-)

                I've not eaten enough variety at Marcello, nor frequent enough, to really gauge their lack of consistency. But I definitely take yours and Fmed's words for it. Maybe I'm being superficial, but the ambiance at Lombardo's is rather dour. And the last two times I did eat there, the food (and pizza) were ok but didn't wow me.

                Actually I never been to the now-defunct Lombardo's downtown.

                1. re: betterthanbourdain

                  I do love Marcello's gnocchi and their spaghetti with clams. And their pizza is the closest I found in town for NY style.

                  1. re: JEheartbreak

                    Even better & closer than Nat's ?

                    (addicted to Nat's .....)

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      I grew up in New Jersey and lived in the NY-area until I was 25. Marcello's is closest I've found in town. When I brought a friend of mine here who is from NY, he thanked me since he no longer had to 'chase the dragon.' :)

                      1. re: JEheartbreak

                        Cool. Not having been to NYC, that's re-assuring.

                        1. re: JEheartbreak

                          The woman who makes the gnocchi at Marcello's is a real italian nonna from Rome and it IS amazing!

                          I think when Marcello is making the pizza, it's really pretty good but it's inconsistent at best when he's not there. Plus, I just don't think I like him.

                          For NY-style, I am anxiously awaiting the opening of Pizzeria Barberella. It's been great having all these Napoli-style places open but, I tam pretty sure Barberella will kick the ass of any other NY-style in town.

                          1. re: NoMoreSnuggles

                            ditto.. i often get half roasted chicken with gnocchi arrabiatta at Marcello's. and the older lady is a good. not the same when someone else cooks imho.