It may have opened in 2022, but Hotel Lombardo – sitting in a stretch of shops on Sydney Road, just north of the Moreland Road intersection – feels like it’s been there forever.
It could be the vintage plates straight out of Nonna’s cupboard, on which to slap down slices of a saucy pizza pie, or the nostalgic black-and-white snapshots of 1970s New York and retro timber panelling on the walls. Maybe it’s the chequerboard carpet, or the in-demand pool table and glimmering disco ball hovering above it. Either way, this moodily lit pizza joint feels lived in, with an aesthetic that’s reminiscent of New York dive bars and your Italian uncle’s pool room.
For owner Travis Lombardo, it was all intentional. He wanted to create a space where people immediately felt at home. The Melburnian spent a decade living in Brooklyn, where he worked as a fashion photographer and clocked time at hospo venues like the boisterous Bushwick nightclub House of Yes and the eclectic Lower East Side bar, nightclub, bandroom and restaurant Pianos. Lombardo describes the latter as “a melting pot of everyone in New York”, an effect he tries to replicate here.
It seems to be working. On any given night, the place is packed with diners of many stripes – huddled in intimate booths, perched on bar stools and sprawled out in the beer garden, which is dressed up with snaking greenery and, after dark, twinkling fairy lights.
If you decide to join in, you might start your meal with a pre-pizza snack of plump ‘nduja arancini, say, or a plate of deli meats with peppers, before moving to the main event: the 72-hour-fermented pies. The classically floppy base and puffy, leopard-spotted crust is a light, chewy vehicle for Italo-American toppings, including the spicy Picante with ‘nduja, sopressa, peppers and stringy mozzarella; a classic pepperoni; and the Calypso Mortadelle with red sauce, crisped up mortadella, pineapple and mozzarella drizzled with golden syrup.
To drink, go for an on-theme Americano or Negroni or a glass of rich and creamy Guinness – an unexpected crowd favourite, according to Lombardo.
Phone: No phone
Gift the experience of Australia's
best restaurants, cafes and bars