Lombardo’s Pizzeria and Ristorante – Giulia Lombardo.
Vancouver has a long beloved history with the Italian culture. So much so that in 2016 the city of Vancouver finally and unanimously declared a stretch of Commercial Drive now officially known as Little Italy. After 60 years of Italian settlement, we are still grateful to visit and experience many long-standing Italian merchants in retail, service, and cuisine. Italian food is definitely a huge draw. The street authentically provides some of city’s finest Italian shops and restaurants and with Italian Day Festival coming this June 9th, the street is gearing up for one of the city’s greatest parties, all thanks to a community heritage that has consistently showered us with great Italian fare and flavors.
Inside the Il Mercato Mall at 1641 Commercial Drive stands one of the building’s first tenants, Lomboardo’s Pizzeria and Ristorante. It is also noted that when they opened back in 1986, Lombardo’s would own a piece of Vancouver history by opening the first wood fire oven concept to making their popular pizza.
Chef Giulia Lombardo recalls her childhood growing up in the restaurant world and realizing that culinary energy was an inevitable influence. From helping the front of house in her early teens to now being at the front line of the kitchen as a chef, Giulia herself has had an inspirational journey thus far in the world food chain.
After setting her sights on living and working in London, England, she was hired as a pastry chef to work for Wolfgang Puck’s first restaurant in Europe. Amid the temptation of staying and working abroad, eventually she would return home and contribute to the thriving family business. Impressively, we also learn that one of Giulia’s favorite desserts to make is the classic “banana crème pie”, a recipe which Wolfgang himself is world renowned for.
Giulia thrives in her love of making delicious food. A likely trait since making great Italian food is ingrained in her roots.
“Using quality ingredients and keeping it simple is a recipe for success,” adds Giulia. “We use full fat mozzarella cheese, imported tomatoes from Italy, and add those staple ingredients to handmade pizza and pastas. The dishes have a way of presenting themselves uniquely as well because everything is handmade. When you are making over 100 pizzas a night, it’s important to keep it consistent and simple.”
With a couple generations now creating, serving, and enjoying their menu, the items have not really changed all that much other than modernizing it a touch.
It also seems fitting since Giulia and her sisters, together with their mother Patti altogether operate the family business, it has also propelled new channels for Giulia to brand herself, the restaurant, and their community.
Now with her own channel “Just Giulia”, she couples her speaking skills along with her kitchen prowess to become a regular media guest on Global BC, CTV, and Breakfast Television. You can also spot her at the Italian supermarket Bosa Foods creating dishes while demoing certain products and recipes.
It is a busy life and career for Giulia. Fulfilled with a special family bond, history, and culinary skills honed to visualize the modern chef and pizzeria business. The next generation’s Italian community will certainly continue celebrating.