It’s only fitting that the newest Boston locale to get your fix of iconic South Shore bar pizza is in Southie.
Housed inside the new Old Colony Ave. location of the Norwood-based Castle Island Brewing Co., Bardo’s Bar Pizza, which opened Sept. 23, puts a unique spin on the beloved, decades-old South Shore delicacy known for its crisp, buttery crust, and the cheddar cheese that, mingling with the sauce, encroaches on the edge of the 10-inch personal pie.
“This is not a style of pizza to mess around with,” said David Lombardo, who co-owns Bardo’s with his sister, Jessica Lombardo Bigge, and his cousin Francesca Lombardo. “We’re not taking it lightly. This is something that we’ve done a tremendous amount of research [on] — I can’t tell you how many pizzas we’ve eaten over the last six or seven months.”
Lombardo is also the general manager of Lombardo’s, a 94-year-old, fourth-generation, family-owned event venue and catering company. When the pandemic hit and decimated the hospitality industry, Lombardo’s set up a kitchen at Castle Island’s outdoor beer garden in Norwood, since the brewery needed to serve food to reopen. When the weather got colder, Lombardo’s moved inside.
“We created a partnership during COVID for them to be able to open and us to be able to get back to work,” explained Lombardo, who said he has been friends with Adam Romanow, Castle Island’s founder, since childhood.
Castle Island signed the lease on the South Boston location over two years ago, but it wasn’t until earlier this year, kicking into high gear, that Lombardo said Romanow asked him to set up an eatery to sling the South Shore staple within the new 9,000-square foot taproom, located at the site of the former Cole Hersee plant. Lombardo was drawn to the idea of “taking our family business in a new direction.”
“We jumped at the opportunity because hospitality is really in our blood, and we love the idea of making pizzas and doing something new,” he said. “So Bardo’s Bar Pizza was born.”
Though Lombardo understands the importance of staying true to form, executive chef Eric Caron was able to cook up some specialty pies you might not find on the coast. The Social Climber pizza, for example, is topped with Mama Lil’s Peppers, red onion, and Lombardo’s homemade Italian sausage — the same recipe used in 1927 when Lombardo’s first opened as a meat market in East Boston. Even the dough has a special ingredient — Castle Island’s signature Keeper beer, creating a “Keeper crust,” as Lombardo calls it.
Most of the prep work for Bardo’s is done at Lombardo’s flagship Randolph location — “it’s really our commissary,” Lombardo said — but all the pies are cooked fresh on-site. Besides pizza, you’ll find chicken cutlets (Lombardo’s grandmother’s recipe), salads, and sandwiches on the menu — plus an array of Castle Island ales, lagers, and IPAs at the ready to wash it all down.
“Our menu is really a tribute to a lot of our family favorites,” Lombardo said. “The heart of our menu is really our family.”
The sweeping space, outfitted with a bright mural and plenty of wooden tables and stools, boasts a 10-barrel innovation brewery, a tasting room, an event space, and a bocce court on its 1,800-square-foot patio.
Lombardo said it is a “surreal and incredible” opportunity to expand his family’s business alongside his cousin and sister — and that, with any luck, it won’t stop here.
“We don’t want Southie to be our only location,” he said. “The idea is we’ll bring the Bardo’s concept to Norwood when we’re ready, and then hopefully beyond that.”
Bardo’s Bar Pizza, 10 Old Colony Ave., South Boston, 617-249-4122, bardospizza.com.
Dana Gerber can be reached at email@example.com