Lombardi’s brings winning formula to south county

When I walked into the new Lombardi’s on a recent Saturday night, I immediately felt holiday cheer.

The restaurant is tastefully decorated with cheery ornaments and festive lights. The buzz of the restaurant was pleasant and cozy. My husband and I settled right in; it was impossible to be anything less than cheerful.

I’ve been wanting to try the new Lombardi’s on Highway 527 between Mill Creek and Bothell for a while. It opened in September. I enjoy the Everett location on the waterfront and was curious how it translated to a new location. So, when we got a chance, we headed out for a date night.

After we sat down, the server brought sourdough bread with roasted garlic in oil. The garlic was fabulous. It had been roasted until it was sweet and buttery soft. We smooshed it into the oil with a fork and happily spread copious amounts on the bread. It was so great, we asked for more, which the server promptly brought. Then we made sure not to breathe on anyone for the next 24 hours.

Lombardi’s has a seasonal cocktail menu with five drinks. It was impossible to resist, what with the holiday decorations and festive mood. My husband ordered hot buttered rum ($7.50). It smelled simply delectable, especially with the generous sprinkle of cinnamon on top of the whipped cream. The hot buttered rum mix is made in-house and the rum is locally distilled.

I ordered a Christmas tree martini. Yup, you read that right. Christmas tree. It was made with gin and Douglas fir liqueur, something I didn’t even know existed. I loved it. It tasted fresh, outdoorsy and surprisingly mellow. It didn’t have the strong alcohol bite I’d expected.

It smelled just like the woods and made me long to go for a snowshoe trip among gently falling snow. It’s probably not for everyone, but if you like gin, you should definitely give it a try.

We ordered a poached pear salad to start. It featured red-wine poached pears with wild greens, goat cheese, walnuts and apple cider vinegar. We both thought it was delicious. It was pleasant to nibble on it while eating the garlic-smeared bread and sipping our cocktails.

The greens were fabulously fresh and the poached pears were delicious. I could have gone for a bit more goat cheese, though.

My husband ordered the lamb chops ($20.95) with rosemary and cheesy polenta. The lamb was tasty and tender and had a lovely rosemary flavor. The gravy was rich and flavorful. We both loved the polenta, which was creamy and had a great texture.

I ordered the chicken saltimbocca. The chicken was served with a prosciutto, fontina, sage and roasted garlic mashed potatoes with a side of potatoes. The chicken was tender and juicy. The sage was the ideal flavor for the chicken and prosciutto. I also enjoyed the mashed potatoes, which were rich with a nice, roughly mashed texture.

For dessert, we shared a pine nut and honey tart with salted caramel gelato. The pine nuts on the tart were a great touch. They were just slightly softened from cooking and they tasted great with the honey, slightly tart flavor.

The salted caramel gelato, however, was the real show stopper. I shared it with my husband. But I really didn’t want to. It was sweet and salty and utterly decadent. You can also order the gelato by itself, and I highly recommend it.

I am glad we gave the new Lombardi’s a try. It looks like it has continued its winning formula. While the new location might not have the outward charm of the waterfront, you’ll forget as soon as you’re indoors.

And if you try the Christmas tree martini, you’ll have to tell me if you like it.

Jessi Loerch: 425-339-3425, jloerch@heraldnet.com.

Lombardi’s

19409 Bothell Everett Highway, www.lombardisitalian.com, 425-892-2931.

Specialty: Northwest food.

Hours: Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Alcohol: Full bar.

Vegetarian options: Yes.

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