Lombardi’s Seafood Café – 1888 W Fairbanks Ave Winter Park.
Every once in a while, you discover a business that TRULY deserves its success, usually that business has some history and significant, sustained growth from humble beginnings. No food business could be more deserving of this accolade than the Lombardi’s Seafood Operation. I say operation, as the business now has many parts, from the new Seafood Café to the Upscale Market and of course, where would Orlando restaurants be without Lombardi’s amazing Wholesale Seafood supply.
Lombardi’s is a third-generation retail and wholesale Premium Seafood company, founded by Tony Lombardi Sr. who started his seafood career as a deckhand on the Tampa shrimping fleet in the early 1950s. For over 50 years, the company occupied a warehouse on the corner of Orange Avenue and Orlando Avenue but moved to the new location on Fairbanks Avenue in June 2015. This gave them the opportunity not only to display their vast array of amazing fresh seafood but also to try a new venture the Lombardi Seafood Café.
Lombardi’s has always been known as the place to get amazing fresh fish and seafood to take home and cook for yourself, but they are now gaining a fantastic reputation as a fast-casual restaurant / cafe destination who’s “Ocean to Table” menu will have seafood lovers jumping for joy.
The Café is situated to the right of the main entrance to Lombardi’s Market and has a walk up counter for a quick serve operation. Simply order and pay for your meal selection at the counter, take a number and the server will bring your food to the table. A large refectory table centers the dining area (Great for a larger party) with around 10 other tables dotted about, with patio seating available when the weather permits. As you would imagine being part of a bustling Seafood Market, the ambience is “Industrial”, but that’s what makes the dining experience so much the better, you feel you could be sitting just off the dock in San Francisco, the energy from the market just adds to the vibe.
Service is warm, friendly and efficient, and although table service is not available at the moment, their customer care and attention was commendable.
The food here is amazing, no frills, just honest to goodness great fresh seafood, cooked to perfection and at a GREAT price point. Getting quality seafood from the Ocean to your table in the shortest amount of time and with the maximum amount of care is the Lombardi tradition. Couple that with letting the seafood speak for itself by not masking the amazing flavors with unnecessary preparations, just seafood cooking at its finest.
The menu is split into Appetizers, Soups, House Specialties, Steamer Basket, Baskets, Sandwiches and Po Boys with a Lil’ Mates section for the kids. Seafood selections can be Pan Seared, Blackened, Grilled or Fried, but whatever style you choose your selection will be from only the highest quality fresh seafood available in Florida.
What we had to eat, from the appetizers, we chose:
House Made Crab Cakes – Two Maryland style lump Crab meat Crab cakes served over lightly dressed spring salad mix. Definitely not stingy on the Crab, a winner to start the meal!
Sweet Corn Fritters – Lombardi family recipe. It’s what Grandma used to make.
We chose our entrée from the basket selection, where you can Mix & Match from the list of fish and shell fish varieties and have your choice prepared either fried, blackened or grilled.
Fish & Chips – Served with fries, hush puppies and coleslaw. Lightly coated with a crisp exterior batter and soft perfectly cooked fish inside.
USA Salmon – with mixed green salad. We asked for the Salmon to be Blackened and the seasoning did not overpower the translucent and succulent salmon beneath the sear.
Like what you eat? Well you can always drop by the market and take some home to cook yourself. The staff will be delighted to tell you how to best prepare your selection.
No time to cook? The full menu is available for take-out.
Look out for the special of the day.
Visit the Lombardi web site for information on wine pairings and some great recipes.
Lombardi’s knows fish, just talk to Mike Lombardi and you will be left in no doubt as to the passion he and his family have for delivering only the finest quality seafood to customers of every source. He has great vision and excitement for the future of the family business with some amazing plans not only for the development of the Seafood Café but for the whole of the Lombardi Operation.
This Lombardi’s Seafood Café is a bit of a Winter Park secret, but not for long, I overheard many fellow diners commenting not only on the quality of the food but that they had really nailed the price point.
As they say, watch this space!