First restaurant: The original Lombardi on McKinney Avenue in January 1977
Total restaurants: 11 (Cibus, Taverna, Sangria, Toulouse, La Fiorentina and three Penne Pomodoro locations in Dallas; Taverna in Austin and Fort Worth; and Romagna Mia in Las Vegas)
Closest to our neighborhood: Most Lombardi restaurants are clustered near Knox Street and McKinney Avenue. Its Penne Pomodoro locations are in Lakewood Shopping Center, Snider Plaza and Preston-Forest, and Cibus is at NorthPark Center.
Company philosophy: “We decided after 9/11, instead of opening big restaurants in different towns, to open different concepts in Dallas and to open neighborhood types of places like in Europe — small places, and some of them, they appeal to the family, the kids,” company owner and founder Alberto Lombardi says in his charming Italian accent. Lombardi hails from Forlì, Emilia Romagna, between Tuscany and Venice. After working in Germany, Belgium, Norway, on a cruise ship and in other American cities, he came to Dallas in 1974 and settled here because “I decided I didn’t want to travel too much anymore. Dallas is a beautiful city, and to have restaurants all around, they become very personalized. It’s nice to go to your restaurants and recognize people.”
Expansion plans: Lombardi opened the Tuscan steakhouse La Fiorentina in December, and has plans for one more new concept in Highland Park in spring 2011. After that, “we’re going to be fine,” he says. “It’s enough to keep me busy for a couple of years. It’s nice to slow down, and better to have a few but keep them right.”