Pinstripes Norwalk has 12 bowling lanes, but calling it a bowling alley is a little like calling Yankee Stadium a baseball field.
The upscale destination opened in December 2019 and occupies 27,000-square-feet at the top of The SoNo Collection in South Norwalk. In addition to those 12 luxury lanes, it features four bocce courts – including one outside on a terrace overlooking South Norwalk, multiple private event spaces, and a bar and restaurant serving high-quality cocktails and classic Italian American cuisine including pizza, meatballs, and much more.
Pinstripes was founded by Dale Schwartz in 2006 in Chicago. The brand has since brought its winning combination of bocce, bowling and dining to additional locations across the country.
“We have 13 locations and we’re about to open five more in 2023, with more to come after that,” says Sherry Wyatt, Director of Sales for Pinstripes Norwalk.
The Norwalk venue is popular as a birthday, wedding, and corporate meeting and team building destination. Visiting Pinstripes is an experience that is perfect either for families, date night, or friend groups of any age. While traditional bowling alleys tend to be noisy and dust-filled places that frequently have a nothing-has-changed-here-since-the-80s feel, Pinstripes is quiet and classy. The lanes are in separate rooms from the main dining area, so the sounds of pins crashing do not disrupt your meal.
Bocce also adds another level of old-world sophistication. While many visitors are more familiar with bowling than bocce, Pinstripes helps make bocce accessible by giving guests a printout of the rules. Staff members are also often available to help give pointers. “Bocce is a really fun game and even if you’ve never played, it’s super easy to learn,” Wyatt says.
During a recent visit, one couple that was new to bocce learned its rules quickly with the help of the rule book and were soon hooked by the low-key relaxing rhythm of the game. It’s the perfect game to play drink in hand between courses at the restaurant.
Bowling and bocce are only half the experience at Pinstripes. The tempting menu is a far cry from regular bar fare. “We are a scratch kitchen,” Wyatt says. “Everything is made in-house.”
In Norwalk, Executive Chef Patrick Doan and Executive Sous Chef Douglas Geraghty oversee a menu created by the brand’s chief culinary officer Chef Cesar Gutierrez. That menu includes wood-fired pizza, seasonal gelatos and a grab bag of classic dishes ranging from fried calamari to spaghetti and meatballs and gnocchi and vodka sauce. There are also American cuisine favorites such as chicken wings and Buffalo cauliflower, chicken sandwiches, and burgers.
Similar creativity is visible at the bar where the menu features a wide selection of wines, local craft beers, and creative cocktails. The best-selling cocktail is the Margarita Italiano, an Italian-ized take on a classic margarita featuring limoncello and pomegranate with tequila to create a drink that, just like everything else about Pinstripes, is very memorable.
Pinstripes is open 11:30 am – 9:00 pm weekdays and 10:00 am – 10:30 pm on weekends. Event timing is 8:00 am – 11:00 pm. They do accept walk-ins, but reservations are recommended. •