Old-fashioned fun at Pinstripes

Normally, a family game night involves video games and tokens. But sometimes, we’re just looking for old-fashioned fun of the low-tech variety. That’s exactly what Dale Schwartz, the founder of Pinstripes, has created with his two locations in Northbrook and South Barrington. The bocce/bowling/bistro combination succeeds in providing adults and children with an unforgettable day (or night) of games and food.

My family spent a Sunday afternoon at the Northbrook location enjoying all that Pinstripes has to offer, starting with a delicious lunch. The menu offers a huge selection of American and Italian fare, including flatbreads, pizzas, pastas and burgers. I’m still craving the Eggplant Parmesan and Portabella Panini, which was cooked perfectly. My husband and younger sons thoroughly enjoyed their burgers while my oldest boy polished off an entire margherita pizza. Menu items are all available on the bowling lanes or bocce courts, but take advantage of the bistro’s large, comfortable restaurant, which also has outdoor seating for beautiful days.

We then moved on to bowling. I loved that the lane could be set up for traditional and bumper bowling, switching automatically according to the player. It even has portable ramps to help toddlers and preschoolers roll the ball. This allowed all of us to get in on the act, although after five rounds, my 5-year-old opted to relax on the leather couches and watch the baseball game on one of the many large screens throughout the space.

Next, on to the bocce court. One of the staff members reviewed the game rules for us and even gave my sons tips on scoring. Since the courts are rented hourly, we were able to play several rounds, switching “teams” each time. Servers attend to your needs both on the bowling lanes and bocce courts, allowing you to enjoy food, drinks and scrumptious sweet desserts, all while you play.

Reservations are accepted every day. General Manager Shawn Mason points out that the crowd changes after about 8 p.m., as the bar becomes more active and bands play on weekends. Families may want to book times in the afternoon or earlier in the evening.

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