About the Restaurant
About Catherine Lombardi
Owner’s Mark Pascal and Francis Schott were two friends from Rutgers who had a shared passion for food and a love for the emerging City of New Brunswick. After graduating from Rutgers and working in other restaurants for a few years, they decided to strike out on their own, opening our sister restaurant, Stage Left.
In 2006, Catherine Lombardi was opened to honor Mark's late grandmother, Catherine Lombardi, with all of her recipes and a dining room modeled after Sunday dinner at her home. With the same remarkable wine list, cocktail program and commitment to using fresh ingredients, this restaurant does fine dining in an inviting, comfortable environment.
Our restaurants have always been greenmarket-driven and seasonal, celebrating the best of what’s local. We’ve always sought out estate-bottled wines from small producers, beer and spirits from craftsmen, and made great cocktails with fresh ingredients from scratch. We were among the first restaurants in the state to follow these principles and we are as passionate about them today as we were back in the early 90s.
But above all of these, our primary goal is to be a warm and welcoming place for New Brunswick locals and visitors from the four corners of the planet. Whether it’s a civilized drink and an appetizer at the bar, or a tasting menu in the dining room, we’re always happy to have you.
Catherine Lombardi's family came to Brooklyn from Naples. Her cooking brought her whole extended family together every Sunday and every holiday from VJ day through the early 1980's. It's Neapolitan-based and heavily Brooklyn-influenced. Generations of Italian-Americans grew up on this food. You see the names of these dishes on restaurant menus today, but they are often pale imitations of the food that inspired them. It takes days to make the gravy just right, to make the eggplant just so, to make the bracciola sing and the mozzarella spring and spit.
Mark Pascal is Catherine Lombardi's grandson. Her traditions have been passed on to him. The food will meet her exacting standards. Catherine Lombardi always cooked with the best ingredients. Did she ever say the words "organic, free-range chicken?" No. But back then of course, it was all organic and free-ranging.
To get ingredients up to Catherine's standards, we have to work a little harder today. Our chickens are organic and free ranging and from local farms. Our NJ tomatoes are from Indyke Farms in Monroe, Baker Farms in East Brunswick and Dreyer Farms in Cranford. We put them up every summer summer. Our heritage pork is from small farms across America.
We start with the best and we take no shortcuts. That's what sets us apart. We hope that Catherine would be proud and we hope it helps to bring you and yours closer like it did for the Lombardi and their kin for generations. And don't forget the artichokes.
Both Catherine Lombardi Restaurant and Stage Left Restaurant offer the same wine list. The Italian section of the list by itself is one of the finest Italian wine lists anywhere.
Wine Spectator's Restaurant Wine List Awards recognize restaurants whose wine lists offer interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers.
Best of Award of Excellence recognizes restaurants that clearly exceed the requirements of the Award of Excellence. These lists typically offer 400 or more selections, along with superior presentation, and display either vintage depth, with several vertical offerings of top wines, or excellent breadth across several wine regions.