Located at the downtown Renaissance Hotel, Bundox Bocce is essentially a giant playroom that happens to include a large bar and menu of munchies. There are seven indoor and two outdoor bocce courts (an Italian bowling game with Roman roots) available on a first come, first serve basis. Fifty minutes for two players is $20, $32 for four, and $40 for six and up to 20 players. Beyond that, you’ll need to book in advance.
My band was playing hooky on practice night, but all the bocce courts were full. Foosball, ping pong, cornhole, shuffleboard, pool, darts, pinball, video games and skee ball were available, some of them free. We availed ourselves of free cornhole and $1 per game skee ball, whilst enjoying a round of locally brewed Lead Dog Citra Solo IPA ($9, 20 ounces).
Tossing bean bags and hard wooden balls can work up an appetite, so from the menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, calzones and pizza we started with roasted Italian meatballs ($13) and garlic herb knots ($7). Three meaty morsels—just shy of tennis ball size—were served in a cast iron crock, topped with melty browned mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley and a chunky, savory tomato sauce. Points of grilled and herbed flatbread were a nice complement to the completely enjoyable, hearty snack.
The dough knots were pillowy with a crispy exterior, covered in plenty of garlic herb butter and grated Parmesan, although no trace of the menu’s mention of mozzarella. No worry, since they didn’t need it. The provided house marinara was polar opposite from the meatball sauce, trending on the sweet side and served ice cold. Myself and fellow bandmates agreed on the sauce, while our fearless leader and award-winning lead singer thought the sauce was fantastic.
A chicken parm sandwich on a crusty roll ($15) was said to be chicken breast breaded in a Parmesan and breadcrumb mixture, with herb aioli, melted mozzarella, house marinara and arugula—with a side of crispy fries. The greens, aioli and cheese were overpowered by the sweet sauce, but the real quandary was the chicken. The texture didn’t ring as an intact piece of chicken, but rather some form of chicken salad somehow breaded and fried into a loose amalgamation. The flavor wasn’t bad, but it didn’t have any “bite”—oddest chicken sandwich ever.
An Italian meat and cheese calzone ($12) of folded pizza dough stuffed with coppa, salami, pepperoni, ricotta, mozzarella and herbs was quite tasty, with or without a dunk in the marinara. Though a bit on the small side for what I think of as “calzone,” I enjoyed it despite it being a bit wet and squishy on the bottom side. I’m thinking all the oil-bearing ingredients worked to defeat the dough a bit during the bake.
I’m on record as generally not a fan of fruit on pizza. Though there were several menu items that piqued my interest (clams, eggplant, pine nuts ghost pepper), I acquiesced to our singer’s choice of the Pig & Pear ($18). It was a 12-inch pie with a decently crispy, chewy, scratch-made crust (gluten free available for $3 extra), topped with prosciutto, sliced pear, gorgonzola, toasted almond and frisée. There was no discernible sauce, though I suppose it might have included a schmear of olive oil. Despite myself, I loved it. The salty country ham perfectly countered the fruit, with the rest playing an enjoyable supporting role. I’m surprised to say it, but I’d order that combination again without hesitation.