There are centuries-old dining establishments in this city that haven’t changed much since the day they opened (see Nikki’s Place review last week), and then there are those that change over time and don’t aren’t afraid to jump on trends or tinker with the formula in an effort to stay relevant. Places like Lombardi Seafood. The fishmonger has served Winter Park and surrounding areas for six decades, but since 2015, he’s reinvented himself in a number of ways: moving to a new location on Fairbanks Avenue; launch of a seafood café in a corner of the market; and, more recently, bringing in a few renowned chefs to boost food operations.
Mike Lombardi, third generation owner of Lombardi’s Seafood, spearheaded most of the initiatives, but his decision to bring in Austin Boyd, who previously served as executive chef of Seito Sushi Baldwin Park, Osprey Tavern and Reyes Mezcaleria, and Yoshio Pintar, chef from the once famous Sushiman restaurant to Dr. Phillips, this is what the local contingent of foodies is buzzing about. Offering sushi from the selection of fresh fish at Lombardi’s disposal seems a no-brainer.
“We’ve been wanting to make sushi for a while, because it suits us so well,” says Lombardi, “and Austin has sushi experience, leadership experience and is a talented chef. Boyd was hired to oversee the cafe, but also to help with retail operations. “We are looking to offer salads, ceviches, boil kits, reheat and dining items, meats and cheeses, as well as new coffee experiences with happy hour specials and an expanded selection. of raw oysters at the bar. ”
Hey, it works for me.
Pintar, or “Chief Yoshi,” as he’s known, came to Lombardi following the COVID layoffs. “I have respected his sushi skills for a long time,” Lombardi exclaims. “He came to me when I wasn’t necessarily looking for another sushi expert, but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work with him.”
Obviously, Lombardi made the right choice. Pintar’s Poke Bowls ($ 12) are masterpieces of artfully arranged slices of cucumber and avocado and wispy sprigs of carrot surrounding cubes of sesame-speckled hamachi (or tuna or salmon, if you prefer). An origami carrot crane gave the blend the “Sushiman” touch. One was also perched on top of a wasabi scoop served with an order of hamachi sashimi ($ 4) and spicy tuna rolls ($ 10) topped with scallions. The fact that the attractive composition was served on an aluminum tray covered with checkerboard sandwich paper made it all the more appealing.
From Boyd’s expanded cafe menu, two sandwiches stood out for me – the Caribbean Mahi ($ 15) served with roasted corn salsa and citrus barbecue sauce, and the Hot Nashville Catfish ($ 10) , the latter being, without a doubt, one of the best new sammies in town. There’s nothing to worry about afterburning from wet rubbing – certainly nothing that one side of coleslaw or sweet corn fritters can’t put out. And if it’s a Tuesday, the $ 2 fish tacos with a mix of blackened mahi and grouper, citrus salad, red onions, carrots and cilantro are an absolute must. Of course, favorites like baskets of groupers and snappers (both fish are caught in Lombardi’s own boat in St. Pete), clam strips, peeled and eaten shrimp, and seasonal stone crab are always offered, just like their house key. lime pie ($ 4), which I find irresistibly difficult to pass up.
Oh, pecan pie and peach cobbler are also on the menu, but every time I fall for this lime pie – hook, line and sinker.