Pizza and burgers: what's not to like, really?
At warm, wood-trimmed Pizzeria Bombola Burgers & Brews, though, you get something notably better than basic.
Pizzeria Bombola Burgers and Brews2901 Ogden Ave., Lisle (630) 922-4100, pizzeriabombola.com
Cuisine: Pizza and burgers
Setting: Modern pubby pizzeria
Entrees: $6.75 to $22.99
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
Nestled into the former home of Pete and Johnny's Tavern and Grille, it's a family-friendly hang inspired by a trip John Skoubis, a partner at Pete and Johnny's, took to Italy's Amalfi Coast.
That inspiration translated to a from-scratch menu of thin-crust pies topped with familiar standbys -- sausage, pepperoni, bell peppers and green olives, for example -- as well as more creative specialty options. (We tried the Greek Fire, but more on that later.)
The appetizer selection isn't overwhelming. It isn't boring either. Immediately the namesake "Bomb-bolas" -- dough-encased meatballs and mozzarella with marinara dipping sauce called our name. They're fun to eat, with a just-surprising-enough, pop-in-your-mouth take on familiar flavors. At the risk of going carb-crazy, we got the beer nuggets, too. Showered with parmesan, they brought back memories of college-era revelry ... only these were better than at bars of yore.
Other starters range from wings and fried calamari to bruschetta and wings. Sausage and pepper sliders on mini baguettes will be on our ticket next time.
More than a half-dozen salads help lighten things up, and the family-size house salad is a great way to go when feeding a crowd. But there's also chopped, antipasto and spinach varieties, each of them loaded with a bounty of ingredients.
Sandwiches are a potential follow up. Considering there's the self-professed "ultimate" grilled cheese -- gooey with Gouda, cheddar and provolone on grilled Texas toast resistance is pretty much futile. There's also an Italian sub and Italian beef as well as a hanger steak sandwich topped with crispy onions and a baguette tucked with sauteed spinach, roasted eggplant, roasted peppers, roasted tomato and feta, all swathed in Caesar dressing.
A big deal is made about the burgers -- for good reason. Not to be ignored is the Pat LaFrieda burger, its ultra-beefy flavor worth the added expense. We went the custom route and got ours topped with gorgonzola, buffalo sauce and crispy onion straws, and we opted for sweet potato fries on the side. It was a mess made in heaven.
The other burgers are no less appealing, be it the restaurant's barbecue, bacon, mushroom and cheddar-topped namesake or the version inspired by a garlicky Margherita pizza.
Pasta options lack pretense. Choose from spaghetti with marinara; angel hair laced with tomatoes, basil and garlic; prosciutto-specked penne with vodka sauce; and chicken or eggplant parmesan.
Still few come without ordering pizza. Bolstered by thin, crisp crust our Greek version came crowned with chicken, red onions, tomatoes, a sprinkle of spicy feta and kalamata olives. The flavor was spot-on, even if we do favor a cracker-thin foundation. If we're to work our way through the offerings, the not-so-date-friendly Rosario pie with Italian sausage, roasted garlic, mozzarella, asiago and parmesan will be next. Of note, 10-inch pizzas with gluten-free crust are available.
The beer selection isn't gigantic, but it has everything you need. Drafts are available by the pitcher and glass, and a decent, reasonably priced beer-by-the-bottle list furthers the theme. The tight wine list follows suit, with many options available by the glass, quartino or bottle. Unique in these parts, bottles of wine and six-packs of beer may be purchased to go.
Dine outdoors on the patio while the weather holds up, lingering over the light-as-air cannoli bites if you manage to save room. We didn't need dessert at that point but nonetheless took one for the team. Otherwise, dessert shooters, like Key lime pie or fuzzy navel may be the way to go.
Service is as convivial as the setting is, ensuring this is a neighborhood place worth keeping around -- especially when factoring in out-of-this-world specials that keep budgets in check.
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.