Pinstripes Restaurant Review - A Unique Concept in Sports and Fine Dining

Entering Pinstripes

On the outskirts of a Chicago suburb, off the beaten path, there is a place like no other. It is an Italian/American Bistro that our forefathers and Roman gods would marvel at. Pinstripes: Bowling and Bocce Bistro is an experience for the whole family. It is nestled in suburban Northbrook, (1150 Willow Road) and has been opened for only four weeks. In that time, Pinstripes has managed to capture the attention of family members from the youngest to the oldest that still retains a drop of kid at heart. I experienced this first hand when I saw a young girl taking advantage of bowling in one of Pinstripes' expansive 18 lanes. A different age group occupied each lane. Even that little girl was putting up a great score, with the help of bumper lanes. Pinstripes may become a trend- setter for combining the bocce experience with bowling. Walking into the front door, you are flanked by four indoor bocce courts. I later learned that there are also two outdoor courts available for more hospitable weather. As the young and old took turns knocking out their competition on the bocce courts, the patrons were served courtside, plates of ambrosia, suitable for Jupiter himself.

The girl, bowling

Owner, Dale Schwartz, grew up in Cleveland with a passion for bowling.

Never totally content with his chosen career paths in life, he reached back to his childhood and created a Roman coliseum where everyone can indulge.

When I asked Dale about his inspiration for Pinstripes, he told me he was moved by a quote from Walt Disney. "While there's very little adult in a child, there's a lot of child in every adult." He further explained that he wanted to re-define the way bowling is perceived by providing great food in an upscale atmosphere. This is evident in every lane, court and corner of Pinstripes.

Bocce Ball

But Dale couldn't realize his dream alone as his dream required an innovative chef. He was fortunate in recruiting the very talented chef, Mark Grimes. Chef Grimes is professionally trained having graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. He also did his internship at Buckingham Palace, creating culinary delights for English Royalty. Chef Grimes compliments Dale's vision with his creative Italian/American fusion dining.

Relaxing outdoors

Sitting at my table, I felt like royalty when Chef Grimes presented me with four appetizers. As I over indulged myself visually with his creations, I started on his special version of calamari served with marinara sauce.

Extremely tender and precisely cooked, Chef Grimes explained what makes this dish different. While most people soak their calamari in milk, he chooses to marinate it in sea salt and water, keeping this dish true to its origins.

The next dish was the caprese chop. Marinated and served with black olives, grape tomatoes, and micro greens, it was a refreshing spring and summer appetizer. This was followed by crab cakes (from Lump blue crab) served with a roumalade spicy mayo, I was thrilled by the way this appetizer featured its crab because it was not mixed with bread and spices in the usual way, but had minimal fillers, keeping true to its name.

Calamari, Caprese Chop, Meatball Sliders

A note to the reader: I am not a fan of meatballs! Never have been! This all changed with my last appetizer, meatball sliders. I know' just wait.

Although all the other appetizers were great, this was by far my favorite.

Served with cheese, marinara sauce on mini-buns, Chef Grimes explained that the meat is mixed with butter and spices giving this dish a tender and sweet flavor. I was trying to pace myself, knowing that this was just the beginning, but I had a second one for good measure.

Dale Schwartz

I was enjoying the food so much that I almost didn't want to take a break, but learning about the wine was important. Dale took the time to go over his expansive but humble offerings of strictly Italian and American red and white wines. While some are offered by the glass, all 75 are offered by the bottle. Some are offered by the half bottle or magnum. These range in price from $22-$148. Mid-range will cost between $30-$50 per bottle. Dale recommended a glass of Cesari "Mara", Ripasso, Veneto. I had a red Italian wine with earthy tones that nearly bowled me over. Bacchus would be proud of Dale.

Chef Mark Grimes

Now that I was about to burst, Chef Grimes brought to the table three entrees. The first was Margherita Pizza. Fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil, this creation had a homemade crust cooked to perfection.

I was enchanted by the fact that this and all their other pizza creations are cooked in a natural wood burning oven. Not a hybrid of wood and gas that many other places use, but a 100% natural wood burning oven. The second entree was an extremely tender braised short rib, served with ricotta baked Yukon potatoes and a demi glace. Served boneless, this dish did not require a knife. Thirdly, I tried the prosciutto fig flatbread, again fresh out of their natural wood burning oven. Crispy flatbread with gorgonzola and marzcapone cheese, it was topped with fresh prosiutto and figs. At first bite, the salt from the first three mentioned ingredients was pleasantly cut by the sweetness of the figs. Complimenting each other in their differences, this flat bread was a yin and yang for my palate.

Great wine and spectacular flatbread

Now that I truly felt like a bocce ball, Chef Grimes topped off this experience with three of the six desserts offered from the menu. The first was a caramelized cheesecake, with a creme brulee crust, complimented with a strawberry and raspberry sauce. The second dessert was carrot cake. Not my mother's carrot cake, but better (sorry Mom). This was served warm with a maple frosting topped with a scoop of homemade carrot gelato. This is just one of the homemade gelato's Pinstripes offers. The third was a trio of homemade gelato sorbets. This is served with a frozen disc of fruit puree, which Chef Grimes noted, helps to keep the sorbet from melting. It is important to note, that all of the desserts are made from scratch.

Wonderful desserts

In its 45,000 square feet, Pinstripes offers seating for 90 people in their main dining room as well as, two side wine and bistro rooms for smaller private affairs. If you are seeking a place to entertain a large party, Pinstripes offers a large banquet hall that can seat nearly 200 people with room for dancing, and the bowling and bocce ball your guests will most likely flock to.

A space for special events and the dining room

Pinstripes: Bowling and Bocce Bistro is Dale Schwartz's flagship experience.

His vision is to expand this idea to Chicago and other suburbs in the future. In the four short weeks Pinstripes has been open, it has already garnered an incredible response from the public. Bowling and Bocce Bistro is an incredible night out for the entire family and it is sure to score a perfect 300.

Pinstripes is located at 1500 Willow, Northbrook, Illinois 60062

Phone: 847-480-2323

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:30am-11:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 11:30am-Midnight


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