Pinstripes Bowling, Bocce, Bistro has locations in Northbrook and South Barrington, IL and Edina, MN. Pinstripes Barrington, the location we visited, is located in The Arboretum of South Barrington, a 600,000 square-foot lifestyle center, a mix of retail, service and food establishments. When first walking in to the restaurant, the feeling is a bit overwhelming, as the entry is a cavernous two story space, with the individual modules (bowling, bocce, and bistro) raying out like spokes from an axle. Each module is quite comfy on its own, so after the initial shock, it's all good.
We started our evening in the bowling alley, rolling a game as well as enjoying mozzarella ball appetizers (served with dipping sauce and onion strings) with a cocktail and beer. Thursday night's special happened to be Ladies' Night, with all patrons enjoying lower-priced cocktails - I couldn't resist trying the Puccini (Absolut Peach, mango juice, sparkling wine, over ice with lemon and orange twists) - quite tasty.
We then headed into the bistro, which is tucked away in the back, behind the front desk and bar. One slightly odd design element was an opening through to the bar, which made the dining area alot noisier than it might have been. Not so noisy that it was obtrusive, but strange nonetheless. Appetizers inc luded the house bread basket with dipping sauce, a grilled vegetable flat bread, and a Greek salad for Laima. From the interesting wine list, I opted for an Inama Soave Classico, while Laima chose the Mazzai Badiola, both of which complemented the appetizers and subsequent entrees. Immediately wee noticed that all the food tasted very fresh, which is always a good first impression.
My entree was the Spinach Mascarpone Ravioli, in a tomato vodka cream sauce, very tasty. An amazing smoky warm spinach added depth and complexity to the dish, really a nice touch. One slight improvement, in my opinion, would be to serve a touch less sauce and to place it under the ravioli rather than on top--this would create a dish more pleasing to the eye. Laima really enjoyed her Braised Boneless Short Ribs--she had considered the grilled baby back ribs, but didn't want an entree that was too sweet. The braised short ribs were just right, cooked in a red wine reduction along with roasted vegetables, while roasted potatoes proved an effective foil. I had a second glass of wine with the entrees, choosing a Cesari Mara Ripasso, more dark smoke to go along with the spinach in my dish.
Not sure how we found the room, but we couldn't pass up the desert options, especially with 10 to choose from! We opted for the Flight of Three Desserts: Caramelized Cheesecake, Apple-Pear Bread Pudding, and Frangelico Chocolate Cake. It looked overwhelming when it arrived, stretching across a cutting board with fresh fruit and whipped cream, but we managed a bite or two of each, and a delicious cappuccino rounded out the evening perfectly.
Pinstripes is doing so many things right--it's an entertaining place to go, with good food and drinks matching up to the bowling and bocce experience. With specials each night and a menu that changes at least quarterly, one could return again and again to try the varied options. A gluten-free menu, along with vegetarian options, means that a family or group with differing tastes or dietary needs could all find something. While there are no vegan options on the menu, some of the dishes could easily be adapted, and the chef says they keep quinoa and other items on hand to make it more interesting than just pasta and veggies, a typical choice. Add in the vegetable garden in the back, and it's clear they are making a serious effort to make really good food.
We're excited that Pinstripes is opening a location in Oakbrook, closer to our home, and are planning on a bowling-themed kids birthday party there once they've opened.
For an all-in-one outing that works for a romantic dinner for two, for the family, or for a group, Pinstripes fits the bill, with fun entertainment, good food, and good drinks.
More info on the Pinstripes website, on Facebook, and Twitter.
Disclaimer: This meal was comped for me for review purposes, courtesy of Pinstripes. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give the restaurant a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.
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