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Lombardi's Imports remains a beacon

Northside classic market is still cooking after 39 years:

Lombardi's Italian Imports in Syracuse could possibly be the finest selection of imported Italian foodstuff assembled under one roof in the world for the price.

Seriously.

But there it sits on the corner of Butternut and Lodi in its 39th year, now surrounded by two dollar stores and a couple of pharmacies on Syracuse's northside, a few blocks down from where the Lombardi boys grew up on the corner of Park and Kirkpatrick.

"Five years ago the neighborhood really went down, but it's starting to come back," John Lombardi, a brother and partner said.

The oldest of seven, Dominick, is the brother most often working the delicatessen counter (specialit pronte da mangiare). He said they sell 30 imported Danielli proscuitto to one domestic.

The goods:

Perhaps the most frequent question is what is the best olive oil?

For the Lombardi brothers there is no such thing, as this is a matter of personal taste and usage. One thing is for sure, have at least two in your cupboard - a lighter one for cooking and a fruity one for salads. They have Greek oil too, which they admit is very good.

Lombardi's also hosts an array of imported Italian cold cuts, cheeses, olives (40 types), vinegars, tomatoes, macaroni, peppers, artichoke hearts, capers, anchovies, sardines, tuna, grains, condiments, jams, chocolates, spices, dried fruits, produce, cookware, home-goods for the table and the list goes on. But what is more remarkable is that they have an intimate understanding of every product in that, they can describe in abundant detail: what it is and what to do with it - complete with a romantic recipe that will have your mouthwatering.

John said to make his favorite everyday dish:

Start with a good size pan. It's gotta be low heat, add pure olive oil then put in capers (the ones packed in salt -- don't wash off), then add parsley and basil, maybe chopped red onion for color. Then add pinolli nuts and a small amount of artichoke hearts; obviously add garlic, and melt in a few anchovies.

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