When I first took the job as restaurant reviewer for Lemon Grove Patch, no fewer than three longtime friends suggested a visit to . One remembered going there with his family for special occasions. Another remembered taking his first real date to Lido’s. When I had lunch there this week, my server had heard those stories many times, and added another she hears often: “The first time I ate here, I was in my mother’s stomach.” Well ... not exactly.
The restaurant has been gracing Broadway along the “mile of meals” in Lemon Grove since 1955, with just two owners during all that time. Lido’s serves classic American-Italian food in large portions at decent prices. You are not coming here for trendsetting fusion cuisine; you are here for old-school traditional Italian fare. It’s a comfortable place for pizzas and pasta dishes served in an unpretentious, family-style setting.
I ordered the large pizza Margherita, which was a special of the day for $11.50. It is a classic pie garnished with mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil, representing the colors of the Italian flag. It was a masterfully thin and crispy crust, with an almost sourdough taste reminiscent of pizzas I’ve had in Italy. It had an enjoyable homemade goodness that was far above the predictability of “chain restaurant” pizzas. You could tell it was baked in a very hot oven, then brought out at just the right moment. Molto bene!
My dining cohort went for one of the luncheon specials: a half-order of eggplant parmigiana with a side of pasta for $6.50. She chose the shells in marinara sauce as her pasta, but could have opted for a salad. Also included was a basket of really good garlic bread. Her pronouncement was that the eggplant was cooked perfectly, had very light breading, and a tasty red sauce. A sample proved her right, and the half-order portion was huge.
My 10-year-old daughter—the little vegetarian—would have been proud, as my partner and I ordered a no-meat meal. The only exception was the complimentary snack tray that is included with every pizza. The combination of tiny sliced squares of salami, yellow cheese, and small commercial cheese crackers was strangely comforting, rekindling some long-ago snack memory. My daughter would approve of the kid-friendly appetizer ... she just would not have eaten the salami, or anything that the meat had touched.
Lido’s offers an extensive menu of Italian food, plus a fair sampling of signature dishes. It is a good value for your dining dollar. They feature a full bar, offer daily specials, and have bargain lunch deals from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The restaurant is located at 7252 Broadway, at the corner of Broadway and Vista Avenue. They take credit cards, and are open seven days a week. The hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m.-11 p.m. on Sunday. Food to go is available, and you can call in your order to 619-469-9901. For menus and further information, their website is http://www.lidositalianfoods.com/.
I want to come back to try the baked rigatoni and chicken Florentine. This is a restaurant that has done its thing for over 55 years, and is still packing their dark wood and red Naugahyde booths with happy diners. For good reason, this place just might outlast us all.