by Chrysa Smith

Who is she, you ask? Well, I will tell you. She’s a fondly-remembered Italian grandmother, who apparently was, a grand cook. Her name is on the menu of a very lovely Italian eatery in New Brunswick, New Jersey. An eatery that happens to sit a few steps from a lovely, little theater.

First Things First
If you’re looking for a special evening with an urban vibe, but don’t relish the idea of city traffic and a hefty parking fee, think about New Brunswick (that is, if you’re in the eastern PA/NJ/NY area). It’s urban, it’s revitalized, it’s easy to get to and there’s parking that doesn’t cost as much as your meal. There’s not endless blocks of sightseeing landmarks, but let’s face it. If you’re headed for dinner and a play, that’s about enough for an evening, isn’t it?

I was surprised at the warm, inviting and romantic atmosphere at Catherine Lombardi’s, mostly because, it’s not visible from street level. One level, up, you exit an elevator, turn into a hall and then are pleasantly surprised by a well-appointed dining room: red walls, old family photographs in new, sleek frames, beautiful woodwork and cozy fireplaces. The service, like the menu, is quite fine and old school—no shortage of help tending to your every need. Select several samplings of antipasti or go for the classic, hearty Lasagna—and a bottle of Sangiovese, Chianti or something else offered from an extensive wine list.

The owners are apparently quite accomplished and quite the entrepreneurs. There’s always some sort of special promotion going on which I discover in my email—with a funny twist from a talented wordsmith. The owners, apparently have their own food talk show on radio, and a gourmet chocolate business known as The Restaurant Guys. Check it all out on:

The Entertainment
The State Theater sits down the block from the restaurant. It sure beats my old attempts to do dinner and a play in Philly, where we most always parked twice before sitting down for the show. My husband and I did the duo one holiday season. Pianist Jim Brickman was playing and the theater was clean, nicely done and roomy enough to sit for awhile without leg cramps. Dinner and a show was a nice treat in a bit of a different location. For event info:
I find the cooler weather makes me more anxious for dinner and a show—how about you?