Sicilian Bakers of New Orleans: F. Lombardo and Sons Bakery
Stop 6 of 6 on the Trail of Crumbs tour
The French may claim New Orleans French bread, but later immigrant bakers' influence on the city's bread-making traditions is undeniable. At the turn of the nineteenth century, a wave of Sicilian immigration to New Orleans left a lasting impact on the city's culture and economy. Nowhere is this more evident than the French Quarter, where traces of a once-thriving community known as "Little Palermo" are still etched in tiles and memories. Many of the Sicilians who arrived in New Orleans lived and worked in the French Quarter and forged a path in the commercial food business, unloading produce on the wharves, truck farming, and establishing grocery stores, restaurants, macaroni factories, and bakeries.
The 1891 City Directory lists a baker on St. Philip Street named Agostino Lombardo, who arrived in New Orleans from Trabia, outside of Palermo. [1, 2] There were almost 200 bakers in New Orleans at that time, most with German or French names. Agostino Lombardo was one of only two bakers at that time with an Italian last name (the other was Lorenzo Federico, a pasta maker, also on St. Philip Street). With his father Francesco and brother Filippo, Agostino Lombardo soon moved to 1210 Decatur Street, where "F. Lombardo and Sons Bakery" operated until declaring bankruptcy in 1941. 
Lombardo Bakery was one of the earliest recorded Italian bread bakeries in New Orleans.  With entrances facing both Decatur Street and French Market Place (previously Gallatin Street), Lombardo Bakery served the port, and the growing Sicilian community clustered near the bustling French Market. The grandson of Francesco Lombardo, Frank Lombardo, wondered in a 2015 oral history, "why do they call this the French Market? It's all Italians. Sicilians!"  This tight-knit community added their language, traditions, and foods to an already vibrant mix of New Orleans cultures. Other small, multi-generational Sicilian bakers such as Lanasa, Ancona, Aiovolasiti/Ace Bakery, Lovoi, Ruffino, Evola, Gendusa, Brocato, and LoGiudice/United Bakery, continued the French and American bread-making traditions of New Orleans. But they also added their own styles of bread to the mix, including the famous "poor boy loaf," St. Joseph's bread, braided sesame twist loaves, sfincione pizza, and the other well-known loaf, the muffuletta. Lombardo's bakery laid the groundwork for this dynasty of Sicilian bread-makers to follow.