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Fabien Lombardi has created a place for himself. What’s it called? Bambino. The latest addition to a sibling group of six establishments, Bambino’s highly individual identity was inspired by his travels in Japan and Tel Aviv. A multi-faceted meeting place where you can feel the mood, the atmosphere.As much “in the groove” as the titles, straight from the boss’s private collection, that bring it to life at night. Which is when he seizes the opportunity to share the sounds he loves, just like the Tokyo-based Kissa jazz cafés that so impress him “with the quality of their record collections and their sound systems! ” and to which we owe the raw look of the place. Good food too, which contributes as much to the atmosphere as the evening guests themselves as they share gourmet delights that slip down so easily with a delectable drink. Because here, the choice is yours. “Customers can come for a drink, for a meal, or to enjoy the more festive atmosphere later in the evening.” No hassle and no reservations. They can relax and be both a spectator and a participant in the evening ahead … although that’s recently become the daytime. Because like all restaurant owners since the beginning of the pandemic, this thirty-something has had to reinvent himself. After a year as a nightspot, Bambino has now become Bambino Café. So what’s on offer in this new arrangement, which we hope will be temporary? The self-declared signature dish, the incomparable roast chicken sandwich and its variations, accompanied by coffee or a variety of teas. Eat it with your hands, eyes closed (if that’s too complicated, close one at a time), and revel in the playlist specially concocted by the real Bambino. Fabien himself!
Bambino, 25, Rue Saint-Sébastien – 7011 Paris. Opening hours: every day from 18:00 to 02:00. Service from 19:00 to midnight (0:30 on Saturday and Sunday). Closed temporarily. Bambino is adapting to deal with the lockdown and the various health and safety restrictions and is delighting us with its Bambino Café offer, which can be ordered on the spot, directly on the Bambino website until 14:00 for the same day or on Uber Eats. Find Fabien Lombardi’s playlist on Spotify.
Fabien, could you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Fabien Lombardi; I’m 35 years old. I was lucky enough to grow up in Cassis, then I went to a hotel school in Marseille, where I learned the basics of fine food and drink. I’ve been working in the restaurant business in Paris for 15 years.
You have six premises to your credit in Paris. What was your motivation for opening Bambino?
It’s a logical continuation of my previous establishments. I started 10 years ago with L’Entrée des Artistes, which I opened with a friend, and which brought together our interests: music, natural wine, cocktails and gourmet food. I concentrated on the restaurant business for a few years, and then I felt like returning to a more festive environment! I was inspired by my travels in Japan and to Tel Aviv. In Japan, I discovered the Jazz Kissa (cafes), where music lovers meet. I was impressed by the quality of their disc collections and their sound systems! In Tel Aviv, I Loved the atmosphere that emanates from lots of places, especially Romano. It’s a really lively place where the atmosphere of the restaurant changes very quickly in the evening thanks to the DJs and the open kitchen, which encourages guests to party. There was nowhere like that in Paris, so I wanted to create one!
Why did you choose the name?
Bambino, because it’s the youngest of my establishments. But also because Bambino was the nickname I was given when I was a child in Cassis. And not only that, my god-daughter, who was six when we opened, created our logo!
Bambino Is located in the 11th arrondissement. Why did you choose that district?
I was coming out of one of my favourite record shops, Betino, when I saw there was a property available. It was a coincidence because I live in the 11th arrondissement, but I hadn’t really planned to set up my next business there! It’s funny because Bambino turned out to be two streets away from L’Entrée des Artistes’ first location.
What did you want to offer there that was different?
In the kitchen, I wanted to offer dishes cooked over charcoal and in a wood-fired oven. The room itself is a hybrid space. We don’t take reservations; customers can come for a drink, a meal, or to enjoy the more festive atmosphere later in the evening.
Music is at the heart of your new project. Why?
Because it’s indispensable! I’ve been collecting records for a long time, and Bambino is the ideal place to share them.
What will we find in your selection of vinyl?
My first records were mainly Hip-hop, which then led me to Soul, Funk, Disco and Jazz.
Hip-hop, soul, funk, disco, jazz: I've been collecting records for a long time, and Bambino is the perfect place to share them!
What inspirations guided you in decorating this hybrid space with its underground feel?
Jazz Kissa. I was inspired by my travels, and I chose to use lots of the kind of natural materials I love, like concrete and wood.
Share your five current favourite titles with us.
Sadevillain : Gazzilion Grand. Bridge : Loves in your corner. Theo Parrish : This is for you. Tha God Fahim : Searching Peace. Kokoroko : Abusey Junction.
Do you have a signature dish that embodies the spirit of Bambino?
The roast chicken and aioli sandwich to dip in its cooking juices. It’s a simple, convivial dish. It was primarily the customers who decided it was our signature!
Where will we find you in the coming months?
At the counter at Bambino (I hope)!
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily