Lombardos open The Ave Restaurant on Hartford Ave.

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David and Jennifer Lombardo may be Rhode Island’s most unique restaurateurs.

David works with his brother – Johnston State Sen. Frank Lombardo – in the family HVC business Frank Lombardo & Sons that their father started many moons ago.

Meanwhile, Jennifer is a skilled chef who graduated form the Johnson & Wales University School of Culinary Arts and works as an Executive Pastry Chef.

Those are, however, just the Lombardo’s day jobs.

At night David and Jennifer Lombardo take on an entirely new face as the proud proprietors of Johnston’s newest eatery, The Ave Restaurant Bar & Grill, located at 1428 Hartford Avenue where they enjoyed a special success during Friday night’s official grand opening.

The Lombardos welcomed dozens of people to their renovated space where their goal is, simply put, “to provide a great dining experience and an evening of entertainment options. Here at The Ave we offer restaurant and bar dining, pool tales and entertainment Wednesday through Saturday.”

Moreover, the menu – which Jennifer Lombardo personally designed – provides a variety of choices for all palates and pocketbooks and all entrees are served with soup and salad.

There’s yet another seemingly unmatched offering at The Ave, where everyone from David Lombardo to Manager Mike Jodoin to hostess Carol Boucher and serving staff makes everyone, as Frank and Patty Lombardo said last Friday evening, “feel as though you’re dining in a neighbor or best friend’s kitchen.”

“Frank, I think your brother and sister-in-law have a great recipe here,” a lady sitting at a nearby booth told the long-serving Johnston State Senator. “The portions are very generous and tasty, too.”

To which Frank Lombardo mused: “I told my brother I think he’s nuts; this is a difficult business and we all certainly wish he and Jennifer well.”

If first appearances hold true, The Ave will be around as long as Hartford Avenue is long.

Although Friday night’s Grand Opening featured a limited menu of seven entrees, people were abuzz about the portions, presentation and dinners like the Fish & Chips, Chicken Francaise, Clams with Linguini and the most incredible cut of prime rib that people were still buzzing about when the night’s entertainment – Dueling Pianos – took center stage.

“What’s that?” a man queried when David Lombardo came out of the kitchen carrying a huge platter that only held the prime rib. He replied: “That’s our 32-ounce cut of prime rib; it’s exceptional!”

People were also abuzz about the stuffies – a.k.a. stuffed quahogs – which is yet another appetizer that is example of Jennifer Lombardo’s skills and are made fresh and never, ever, frozen.

“My sister-in-law also has another skill,” Frank Lombardo added. “Jennifer makes here own desserts and ice cream. You should try the carrot cake and Molton Lava Cake with vanilla gelato or the Berry Cheesecake!”

The Ave also offers Jennifer’s homemade Cannoli’s and a warm chocolate Chip Cookie with vanilla gelato.

There are Early Bird Specials and a daily discount of 5% for senior citizens on entrees only. Starters range from Buffalo Chicken Dip to Smelts to Fried Ravioli to Sausage, Calamari and more.

There are salads and soups and entrees like Veal & Peas to Baked Haddock, Chicken or Veal Rockefeller and Bourbon Glazed Steak Tips, just to name a few.

“All the seafood served here is fresh,” Frank Lombardo boasted about the large serving of beer battered fish & chips served Friday. “He buys his fish several times a week to ensure it’s fresh. He won’t settle for anything less.”

There’s yet another important fact about the food; meals are made to order for what Jennifer will tell you “the best quality and taste; so we ask for your patience. Now, whether you are here with family, friends or for a date night, welcome to our table and thank you for visiting The Ave.”

The Ave is open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 12 noon to 1 a.m. There’s entertainment Wednesday through Saturday and free pool with a minimum purchase Sunday. For reservations call 383-9889.

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