A salad for me, but mostly pizza and pasta for gluten-free at Pinstripes

Pinstripes, Edina, Minnesota
Pinstripes, Edina, Minnesota

Restaurant: Pinstripes, Edina, Minnesota

So…if you’re anything like me…you’ve never heard of Pinstripes.  That was certainly the case up until my first full day in Minneapolis.  I was bustling around town with my roomie and my aunt, having hit up the race expo that morning for my half marathon the next day.  So, with that one detail (and the major thing we needed to accomplish) taken care of…we were just hitting up interesting places along the way until we needed to head home for a bit and figure out where to grab gluten-free pizza for race night tradition.

While we were trying to decide on where to grab a quick, and semi-light bite for lunch, my aunt, Jan, mentioned a really cool place she and her friend stopped into for drinks one time.  Pinstripes.  And we weren’t far from it at all.

I was totally game for that…and…they were listed on Find Me Gluten Free with one positive 5-star review.  Granted, it’s only one review, but at least it had one on there, yes?  So…we decided that after we stopped by the Apple Store to get some of Jan’s stuff sorted, we would grab something to eat at Pinstripes.

Now…I had no idea what Pinstripes was until I stepped inside.  It looks like a great Italian/American bistro, with wine bottles and decor to match.  However, throughout this amazing set-up, you see a variety of hand painted bowling balls.  Bowling balls?  You betcha.  And here’s why…this bistro not only houses a 40,000 square foot dining and entertainment area, but also features bowling alleys in the back, a year-round outdoor patio and fire pit, as well as party rooms that can accommodate 20-600 people.  A little bit of everything and it still looks and feels upscale and classy.  They term this “sophisticated fun” and let me tell you…they have the setting all right.  It felt welcoming, engaging, fun, and still upscale all at once.  Amazing.

As our menus were being grabbed by our hostess, I asked for a gluten-free one and she was happy to accommodate.  We were shown to a booth where we all settled in, opting to stick with water at lunch as we’d already treated ourselves to coffee that morning.  I eagerly picked up my little slip of a menu and started to gaze down the items listed.

And found myself…sort of underwhelmed.

Pizzas…pastas…and meat-based large plates are what were listed.  I didn’t want pasta when I was going to be having pizza that night, and that fact also negated me getting pizza as well.  As tempting as it was to get dessert for lunch (the gluten-free menu does offer gelato, sorbet, a Frangelico chocolate cake or a limoncello creme brulee, I needed some actual sustenance as it was the day before a half marathon.  The better I ate, the better my body would be the following morning.

When our waitress arrived with our drink orders, Cathy and Jan knew what they wanted and I knew that the regular menu had salads listed.  So, I inquired over the Caprese Salad, which by all intents and purposes should have been gluten-free…and…it was.  Salads just didn’t make it over to the gluten-free menu, I suppose.  With that information, which, the waitress did go back and double check that everything was safe for me to eat before we ordered, we all placed our orders.

Jan and Cathy both decided to order off the small plates menu.  Jan decided on the Italian Meatballs ($11.00), which came wrapped up in a sandwich roll with a side salad as well.  Cathy, having a craving, went with the Fried Calamari, which came with a marinara for dipping ($12.00).  As for me, with pasta and pizza out of the question, I opted for the Caprese Salad ($13.00).  Orders were in and we were left to converse, which we did.  After all, it had been close to a year since the last time I had visited.

After a little while, our food arrived at the table.  Jan’s small plate definitely looked like a full meal, and after a little bit, she opted to forgo the bread the Italian Meatballs were tucked into and eat the protein alone.  She raved about them.  Loved them.  Cathy was really happy with her calamari, loving that they included tentacles and everything.  Creepy…I know.  But she loves it and doesn’t get it very often.

My Caprese Salad was a work of art, I think.  It was a gorgeous presentation that included slices of red and yellow heirloom tomatoes, capped with thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, adorned with three fresh leave of basil and all lightly drizzled with a balsamic reduction.  It not only looked light and refreshing…it was light and refreshing.  Just the type of lunch I needed to have.  I sliced through the layers of tomato and cheese and took up a bite…and it all just worked.  The cheese was creamy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  The tomato was ripe, juicy and sweet, the perfect counterpart to the mozzarella cheese.  And that balsamic reduction really tied everything together.  And it was a light drizzle so that the salad wasn’t swimming in it.  It was like an accessory to the main dish.  Even better were the bites that included the leaves of basil, which I would pick and choose sparingly.  Amazing.  A salad is a simple thing, but when done right, it can blow any entree out of the water.  This…was salad greatness.

Pinstripes was a fun, upscale, yet family-friendly restaurant that I’d love to try again.  Maybe I’d even do my night-before-the-race gluten-free pizza there.  Because…honestly…all three of us really enjoyed our food.  It was fresh, perfectly seasoned, and and made up to perfection.  The little plates were definitely for big appetites regardless, but we had burned off breakfast by then and still had plenty of time before we hit up the pizza location of choice, which we hadn’t decided on quite yet.  After we ate, we went to peek in at the people bowling in the lanes in the back.  And then went to see the patio and check out the lakefront as well.  It was the perfect afternoon…with a perfect meal to tie us over.

If you happen to be near a Pinstripes, I encourage you to check it out sometime for a lunch or dinner.  They are a little pricey, but the quality of the food reflects the service, the preparation, and the care they put into each plate.  I loved this place.  Locations are sort of regional, though, with one location in Minnesota and three in Illinois.

Totally worth the stop though.  I’d go back again in a heartbeat.

Pinstripes' Caprese Salad
Pinstripes’ Caprese Salad

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