At some point during the Chicago Blackhawks storybook run to Lord Stanley's cup last spring, I took a sip from my Magic Hat #9 Ale and glanced around the massive bar area at the fans packed 10 deep, gazes fixed on the endless row of flat-screen TVs and thought to myself, where have you been Another Round?
This is the kind of place you want in your neighborhood, the kind of place that becomes your go-to destination on pizza night with the family or Blackhawks/Red Wings with two (or 10) of your closest friends.
You can thank owners the Nagy family for providing the friendly vibe that makes this place feel like it's always been here. Anyone who has lived around downtown Downers Grove knows nothing can be further from the truth.
This Main Street location has been the hard-luck destination for at least a half dozen restaurants over the past 10 years, from Pizza Capri to the brief run of StillWater Restaurant and Wine Bar.
There was even a period of a few years when an Italian restaurant shared the kitchen with a Mexican place, an arrangement that caused hair-pulling in restaurants all over Rome (curiously, Mexican and Italian restaurants sharing kitchen space is something of a reccurring theme in Downers Grove, but that's a story for another column).
The once divided space has been remodeled into one cavernous room that can be subdivided by black 'garage doors' that pull down to create more intimate spaces when things are slow, which is rare. On weekends and big-game days the doors go up and the room rocks with an energy that has been lacking in the central business district for years.
The main bar area dominates the center of the restaurant, flanked around and above with a ring of HD flat screens so you'll never miss a swing, pass or goal. Huge projection screens anchor the two seating areas on opposite sides of the bar.
Play-by-play audio is typically pumped in over the sound system for Bears games, but Hawks games kick the things up a notch. The stadium experience (no, I never call it the United Center) is honored with a rousing rendition of the National Anthem complete with Hawks-appropriate wild cheering.
There's a fog horn and flashing sirens to celebrate every goal, accompanied by Chelsea Dagger pumped in at full volume. Anyone who was fortunate enough to squeeze in for the playoffs this past spring is wiser for the experience and knows to arrive way ahead of puck drop if they want a seat—anywhere.
Another Round is the third location in the Nagy's Roundhead's restaurant chain (another "Round"—get it??), and longtime patrons know pizza is the game here. The restaurant features thin, pan and stuffed versions with just about any topping you can imagine, from the basics (a surprisingly spicy pepperoni) to the more unusual (wing sauce replacing tomato or ricotta cheese topped on mozzarella).
I like the thin crust version the best, flaky and buttery with a tomato sauce that has more tang than sweetness. Toppings are generous and your server will have the kitchen create any combination you desire.
My personal creation (no one else has claimed it so I'm going to) is pepperoni, pineapple and hot giardiniera. I call it the Yo Koni because it's like a trip to Maui in a black Z28, and pairs great with a pint of Shock Top Belgian White. Ask for it next time you're there, but be warned: They've never heard of it so you'll have to explain.
The balance of the menu ranges from hot wings to fish and chips, and could benefit from some selective editing. Still, there are some standouts. For starters, the Pot Roast Waffle Fry Nachos are a heaping plate of seasoned waffle fries topped with pot roast, a melted blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, a sprinkle of blue cheese and a finishing touch of pico de Gallo.
It's over the top and delicious, the kind of appetizer every guy fantasizes about (when he's fantasizing about food, that is). The pot roast is surprisingly tender and the blue cheese gives each gooey scoop a strong, tangy bite. Anyone attempting to tackle this dish alone should be handed a napkin with a scribbled list of local cardiologists, so share with your friends. Ask for extra blue cheese.
The Dough Balls were a little to dense for my taste (full disclosure, I'm an NIU grad and we take our beer nuggets very seriously), but the garlic butter dipping sauce helped soften them up (and what doesn't taste better with butter and garlic)? A better dough-based option is the Italian Beef Doagie (dough-gee) which is homemade Italian beef with mozzarella cheese and hot giardiniera wrapped inside pizza dough and fried to flaky perfection. Ask for extra giardiniera.
The wings are decent and available with 12 different sauces. You can order them traditional or boneless. There's an entire section of the menu devoted to 'mini bites' which are smaller 'slider' versions of everything from pulled pork sandwiches to the aforementioned pot roast.
No respectable sports bar is complete without a signature burger on the menu and Another Round is no exception. It's the Bagel Burger and its origins have something to do with a bagel cart, a festival and running out of burger buns (depends on which waitress you ask and what time of night it is).
Regardless, it's a 1/2-pound burger served on a baked bagel with American and, you guessed it, cream cheese. I've never considered cream cheese on my burger before, but I have to admit it really works here. Something about the sweet tang of the cream cheese combining with the juicy burger is amazing—like continental breakfast for a convention of Ukrainian weightlifters. Ask for extra cream cheese.
The bar has 20 beers on tap including standouts like Bell's Oberon and Magic Hat. The staff is friendly and mostly female, just the way any self-respecting group of rutting stags would want it on boys' night out.
If you would like a quality check on your pizza just ask your server to share a piece and she'll happily oblige. There still may be a few weeks left to take advantage of the patio area out back; you'll pass it on your long and winding trek to the restrooms.
The Blackhawks season opener is Saturday, Oct. 9, so you still have some time to get a place at the bar. See you there.
Where: Another Round Bar and Grill, 5141 Main St., Downers Grove 630-963-0333
Mon -Fri, Sun 11:30 a.m. - 1 a.m.
Sat- 11:30 a.m. - 2 a.m.
How Much: Almost all the entrees are under 10 bucks; pizza ranges from $10 to $20 depending on what you want on it
Kid Friendly: Absolutely, its family friendly during the day and early evening, but at night and for big games the crowd can get very-enthusiastic.
Where can I park my SUV? There 's a free parking garage just behind the restaurant to the South.
If I ask for the Lifetime Channel on one of the TV's during Bears games, will they change it? No
Do they have a web site with a downloadable menu? Right here: http://anotherroundbarandgrill.com/
How many of the beers on tap have you sampled? Enough to have chosen a favorite, and my research is thorough
Do you remember when this place was Comida Bebida? Yup. Vivaldi? Yup. Pizza Capri? Barely.
Make it a night. By surviving. Downers Grove's finest focuses their efforts around closing time so I would suggest a designated driver, skipping
that last 24-oz. Shiner Bock, walking home or taking advantage of Metra (which is just two blocks north).