Monday, June 1, 2009

Lombardi's on the Bay

600 Ocean Ave, Patchogue, NY 11772, 631-654-8970,

Brian and I usually agree on our reviews but Lombardi's has us a bit stumped. We've been there twice and have not been able to reconcile our opinions so we're agreeing to disagree.

The facts:
Lombardi's has a following on the North Shore of the island (Lombardi's on the Sound). Their foray to the South Shore and the Great South Bay follows the departure of Louis XVI, whose beautiful waterfront location they took over.

Louis was sophisticated, elegant and romantic. It was a gastronomical feast and a financial indulgence. Louis was...frequently empty. In contrast, Lombardi's is one big, happy, noisy party and the crowds and long lines prove that the business is out there for the right price.

Where Louis reserved the magnificent outdoor space overlooking the bay for weddings and private receptions, Lombardi's opened it for regular dining when there are no functions and even installed an outdoor bar. We both loved Louis above most restaurants but we always felt they were wrong on this point and Lombardi's is right.

Portions at Lombardi's are HUGE and, for the most part, tasty. We've tried the Beet Salad with walnuts and goat cheese (huge and tasty), the Classic Caesar Salad (huge and tasty) and the Loaded Iceberg Wedge salad with smoked bacon and crumbled blue cheese (huge, a bit old-fashioned and a potential heart attack on a plate but tasty). Another huge salad, a "special" of Mediterranean vegetables and grilled shrimp unfortunately missed the mark with overly large chunks of veggies and weak dressing but an entree of Chilean Sea Bass was expertly prepared (and, yes it was huge) and the Rigatoni with Mamma's Meatballs was cooked exactly right...and huge :)

Desserts...well...we love desserts and we're sure they have some but there was just no way to attempt it and still keep breathing.

Lombardi's does not accept reservations and they fill up early and fast on warm evenings. But if you don't mind the wait, either the indoor or outdoor bars make for delightful people watching while you're sipping a cocktail, eating bar nuts and waiting for your table.

Brian's opinion:
He didn't appreciate the all-you-can eat mentality and the diners that welcome that sort of experience. He was extremely put off by the crowded, noisy wait for a table and the restaurant's perceived mentality of quantity over a more complex palate.

My opinion:
Although I, too, disliked the lack of reservations, crowds and wait time none bothered me to the same extent as my partner in life, love and food. And, although I am way too small to ever finish any dish at Lombardi's, I don't mind taking half of it home with me.

I miss Louis very much but I love having the greater access to the water that Lombardi's provides and I think it's a lovely place to spend a summer's evening. Unfortunately, I'll have to do it with someone else :)

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