Welcome to our list of favorite dining destinations in New York's Hudson Valley and Adirondack regions. We visit restaurants, wineries, barbecues, and a smattering of off the beaten path culinary destinations like maple sugar shacks and fromageries. My friends and I have been dining out together weekly for over twenty years. The locations we write about are our favorite destinations. We are not claiming they are the best, just our favorites. The posts are not "reviews" in the classic sense. - we offer only our picks, not pans. We will leave the criticism to others. We are a happy blog. We much prefer a good bistro to "haute cuisine", especially if they also have a nice bar. We prefer a crock of cassoulet and a bottle of Beaujolais to just about anything else. If you enjoy simple home style rustic cooking with a decent (but not too expensive) bottle of wine, then pull up a chair and join us.

This Month's "Well Said!"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

Ferran Andria

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lombardi's ~ Gardiner, NY

Lombardi's Italian Restaurant
2808 Rte 44/55
Gardiner, NY 12525

Reservations: 845.255.9779

Dinner Wednesday through Monday
Closed Tuesday
No Credit Cards
Restaurant Website

Pasta doesn't get any more "homemade" than this. Right next to the bar, out in the dining room, a long wooden farm table was set with a stand mixer and pasta roller attachment. As I sipped on my wine, kitchen staff emerged to take turns using the roller. The first batch of pasta was stretched out for rows of ravioli, squeezed from a pastry bag, dollop by dollop, teasing me before I even had a chance to look at the menu. Morgan came next, with her own ball of semolina dough, feeding it through the roller, over and over until she was happy with the dimensions. It was hung on the pasta drier when she finished, waiting for the knife that would coax it into delicate strips of fettuccine. I was in heaven, and I did not expect to find it here.

It had been well over twenty years since I had last visited Lombardi's. In those days Lombardi's was the place to stop for a pizza and a beer, maybe a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, maybe a game of pool on the tavern table. It has come a long way. For one thing the pool table is gone. And the menu has been "up-scaled" considerably along with the dining room. What has not changed is the family atmosphere. This is as comfortable as it gets.The current proprietors, Paul and Agatha Foti, continue a family tradition started by Agatha's parents in the early 1970's.      

Morgan's turn at the pasta roller. 

The menu at Lombardi's is what we used to call "red sauce Italian". I hesitate to use the phrase because some people use that phrase pejoratively. They shouldn't.  Many of the offerings are classic Italian - American dishes as opposed to traditional Italian (you won't find veal parmigiana in Italy), but there is nothing wrong with that either. Italian kitchens first starting using tomatoes which were brought back from the Americas, so in my book this Italian cuisine is all still very much a work in progress .  Just enjoy it and call it whatever you want.
Great marketing! How could you NOT order one of these raviolis?

We only had four for dinner last Wednesday so we couldn't try everything on the menu, but we did our best. I started with a dish of insalata di pesce - cruddo style, razor thin slices of shrimp, scungilli and squid, simply dressed with a spritz of lemon and a drizzle of good olive oil with a little garlic. Superb dish. We shared a large platter of antipasto - slices of salumni and soppresata, house made mozzarella and provolone garnished with roasted red peppers and calamata olives. You can also order the mozzarella fresca, plated with tomatoes and artichoke hearts and marinated mushrooms. There were two dishes I want to try on my next visit - a classic clams casino topped with pancetta, and a house specialty of polpette di pesce (seafood cakes) made with chopped shrimp, crab and scallops - and angel hair pasta - seasoned, breaded and fried. Sounds great doesn't it?
Rather than ordering individual salads we ordered a family style Caesar, which the menu forewarned was enhanced with tomatoes, calamata olives and sliced mushrooms. I definitely wanted to sample some of the fresh pasta we had just seen made in front of our eyes, but I saw one of my favorites on the menu - broiled wild Alaska sockeye salmon ($24.95). I love sockeye salmon, and I applaud restaurants that commit to serving wild salmon instead of farm raised. It is worth every penny just for the flavor, and when you consider all of the damage done by open ocean salmon farms, the cost differential is incidental. I will gladly pay the few dollars, and support any restaurateur that serves it. One extra star for the wild salmon. It was plated with some garlicky sauteed spinach. Wonderful stuff. I was happy to hear that the kitchen would gladly add a side dish of the fresh fettuccine, which came topped with a brightly flavored marinara sauce. A plate of cavatelli / $17.95 (homemade of course) were tiny gnocchi like dumplings, stuffed with ricotta.  Other specials included Fettuccine Alfredo ($16.95), Beef Braciole ($19.95), and home made (of course) lasagna ($17.95)
The regular menu selections were expansive covering everything from pasta bolognese, to eggplant / chicken / veal prepared parmigiana, or marsala, or picata style. All done with house made sauces, and farm fresh vegetables. Even the wine list had a local flare with selections of Whitecliff Vineyards, Brotherhood, and Robibero Vineyards in New Paltz.
I had definitely waited much too long to get back to my old stomping grounds in Gardiner, but it will definitely not be long until our next visit. I have my eye on some polpette di pesce.

If you do stop in please let our other readers know about your visit in the comments section.
I hope you'll "Like" Rambler on Facebook  
Ideas? Recommendations? Email me at NorthCountryJoe@gmail.com
Lombardi's Italian Rest. on Urbanspoon

No comments: