Pinstripes patrons bowled over by fun, food

NORTHBROOK, Ill. It's a far cry from the neighborhood lanes- and it gives the whole family something to do on a cold winter's day or night. If you build it...they will come. Judging by the first eight months of operation, the massive Pinstripes in Northbrook is attracting all ages in search of some indoor fun.

"This is our first location in the North Shore, intentionally- not in a downtown venue, just connecting with communities," said Dale Schwartz, Pinstripes.

They're connecting over bocce, bowling and a bistro. The first of which is great for any age group.

"Bocce is traditionally Italian, but a lot of people play, on the beach, in the backyards, so bocce's a 'sleeper,' and far more people have played it than you'd suspect, and those that haven't played it, all of our team members teach everybody how to play and it's quite fun."

As for bowling, this is no ordinary beer and burger joint. It's more plush, and definitely a lot cleaner than the neighborhood lanes.

And the food is a hybrid of both Italian and American. There are lots of flatbreads, like a fig and prosciutto version which had a nice crust.. even some tasty bruschetta - the week we were there they came topped with mushrooms and gorgonzola or tomatoes and mozzarella. They also offer a half-dozen entrees, such as a pinenut-crusted halibut with a very cheesy veggie risotto and some nicely sauteed spinach. A flourless chocolate cake is surrounded by a ring of cabernet sabayon - echoed by some green grapes. There's also a caramelized cheesecake puck, paired with a decent strawberry sauce; a sign the kitchen isn't exactly playing within the seasons, but it seems to be just fine for patrons on the North Shore, who love a little entertainment served up alongside their main course.

"People are looking for an alternative and so what we afford them is a phenomenal opportunity to have fun and have terrific food, and wine, but just something different, something different than just the typical dining or movie experience."

Additional Pinstripes are planned for Barrington, as well as a third location somewhere in the western suburbs.

1150 Willow Rd., Northbrook


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