Toni Stephenson started working at the Penne Pomodoro in Preston Hollow two weeks after the restaurant opened in November 2003. She was a server. Sixteen years later she is general manager. 

Stephenson isn’t the only staff member that stuck around. Several members of the staff have been there since it opened or have worked at one of the Lombardi family’s other restaurants. 

Alberto Lombardi is the man behind many popular restaurants in Dallas like Taverna, Sangria, Toulouse and the old Lombardi’s restaurant in the West End. When he wanted to close Lombardi’s and get back to something quaint and family friendly, he opened Penne Pomodoro. Lombardi wanted to get back to what Stephenson calls the “warm and fuzzy.” 

It’s clear what she means by “warm and fuzzy” when she talks about her customers. She says the restaurant is like a family, and she has the anecdotes to back it up. 

“We’ve had the same people coming in here since day one,” Stephenson says. “I used to hold a little girl when I waited tables here while her parents ate lunch. She had her first date here a couple weeks ago. I still tear up every time I think about it.” 

She recalls a customer that mostly orders food to-go aside from the occasional skinny margarita. They shared conversations about his adventures and then one day she saw him in a publication.  


Former WFAA weatherman Troy Dungan is a Penne Pomodoro regular.

“I texted our bartender, ‘Is this our Victor?’” Stephenson remembers. “‘He’s in National Geographic.’”

Staff members at Penne Pomodoro do their best to ensure customers get food as they like it. The build-your-own pasta and pizza is a menu staple, but the attention to detail excels. One family dines once a year when their daughter is home from college because they trust she won’t get sick from her food allergies. 

“Troy Dungan, the former weatherman from channel 8, is a regular,” Stephenson says. “He and his wife like to come in on Saturdays. He’s very particular about his Bloody Mary. He likes extra Worcestershire sauce. The second he walks in, we run to the back and get Worcestershire sauce.”

Penne Pomodoro’s brunch menu draws a crowd with favorites such as breakfast pizza and $1 mimosas. Daily specials are also a big part of its business, with specials changing twice a day every day. 

Penne Pomodoro 

11661 Preston Road, 

Suite 143

Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

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