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Best of Dallas: Food & Nightlife

The Editors with Rob Brinkley | December 27, 2016 | Feature Features

These are the people and businesses that made our city an exciting vibrant place to live. If this was last year, we can't wait to see what's in store for 2017.
Alberto Lombardi is a legend in the Dallas restaurant scene and is now opening his lively spots across the country.

The Scene Stealer
It’s impossible to live in Dallas and not be a fan of Alberto Lombardi’s restaurants. There’s family-style Penne Pomodoro, the bustling trattoria Taverna, the Parisian-inspired Toulouse and the crowning jewels of Highland Park Village’s nightlife, Bistro 31 and Lounge 31 (named for the year that Highland Park Village was built). Since 1974, the Forli, Italy, native has made his mark on Dallas on his own terms, much as he did in his formative years. A rebel if there ever was one, he was twice kicked out of schools—once from a Franciscan seminary, no less—and worked in the European service industry as a teen and young adult until a job on a cruise ship brought him stateside. His girlfriend’s job as a hairdresser led him to Dallas, and a job as a waiter at The Grape on Greenville Avenue followed (his nickname there: “Speedy Gonzalez”). His first night in Dallas, at a hotel across the street from Lovefield, a fight broke out in the lobby. “I thought, what is this place? Then I found out it was Texas-OU weekend.” Within two years, he opened his namesake restaurant, Lombardi’s, on McKinney Avenue. “I did everything,” says the father of four. “I bought the food and cooked it, and then I would change clothes and work the front of the house.” There are now a total of 12 restaurants located in Atlanta; Houston; Austin; Laguna Beach, Calif.; Fort Worth; Las Vegas; and Akumal, Mexico; and he’s still not finished. Later this year, he opens additional locations of Toulouse and Taverna, as well as debuts his newest concept, the Asian-fusion City Social in the much-buzzed-about Legacy West in Plano. “I’m blessed to have this crazy personality,” he says. “My biggest dream was to become a maitre d’.”


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