Big Bob’s delights with Italian fare
Gaslight Village in East Grand Rapids is home to a few hidden foodie gems. There’s Rose’s, Jersey Junction, and Olive’s. And with good company comes great expectations. On a recent visit to Big Bob’s, the restaurant seemed to just do that.
Known for its pizza and breadsticks, Big Bob’s is slowly be coming a “must” for all Italian lovers to visit. The small restaurant doesn’t seem to want to stick out, but those who engage it will certainly be in for a treat.
I walked in on a Tuesday night with a few friends, and we were immediately seated out on the patio. There were maybe four or five other tables that were taken indoors, but the outside was completely empty (which was surprising, for a summer night). Having eaten here before, we knew we had to start off with the cheese breadsticks.
The breadsticks were perfect. Paired with sides of ranch and marinara sauce, the combination of cheese, butter, and bread was wonderful. I honestly can’t say I’ve eaten better breadsticks before a meal.
While we enjoyed each other’s company, we seemed to be constantly asked by our waitress if we were ready to order our main entrees. Because we were in no hurry, and the restaurant certainly wasn’t busy, we waited a while. However, the waitress seemed persistent, eventually hurrying us up to order.
The wait for our meal was average; certainly nothing to complain about. I went ahead and ordered the lasagna, which was paired with some garlic bread. My friend Julie ordered the Meatball Parmesan, while her sister went with a 7″ Spicy Chicken pizza. All of our meals averaged around the $8 range.
The lasagna is a must-try of Big Bob’s. Its unique sauce and cheeses bring a flavor that can’t be found at a typical Italian restaurant. Plus, the portion is absolutely huge; you’ll definitely take some home if you try it. Not too spicy and not too sweet, the lasagna balances its ingredients personally, and doesn’t try to overdo it. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of this one.
Julie’s Meatball Parmesan was equally as delicious, though there was one disappointment. She had asked specifically for no mushrooms, though there were plenty in the dish. Despite the drawback, the meatballs were great and “tasted homemade.” Both of our dishes were served with two large pieces of garlic bread, which helped contrast the massive amount of pasta.
Finally, Katherine’s Spicy Chicken pizza was “really, really good.” Topped with chicken, pepper, garlic, sweet peppers and cheese, all on a butter sauce, the pizza had the perfect amount of spice. And despite the lack of red pepper, the pizza had been one of her long-time favorites, and was very filling.
In addition to the Spicy Chicken pizza, Big Bob’s also offers a plethora of different pizza toppings ranging from meatballs to artichoke. With a little creativity, you can literally make your own favorite pizza.
Now it was time for desert. We had long been waiting to try Big Bob’s gelato on top of a warm chocolate chip cookie. For those who don’t know, gelato is basically a grown-up version of ice cream. It’s an Italian ice cream with a smooth, rich flavor, which also happens to be a bit healthier. Big Bob’s gelato is furnished by Palazzolo’s Artisan Gelato, which creates more than 600 flavors. We chose two flavors with our cookie — Mint Chip and Vanilla Couverture, which was basically vanilla ice cream with chocolate streaks. Needless to say, it was decadent…and very rich.
I was very pleased by the Big Bob’s experience. And in addition to the dine-in experience, they also have some great take-out deals and end-of-the-day specials. They also offer college students 15% off everyday — but there’s a catch — only one person in your party can actually take advantage of it. I guess it’s their way of telling you to tune up on your math skills.
Overall, Big Bob’s offers great food in a homey environment. When sports are on, the crowd can get a bit more rowdier (and much busier), but on your typical weekday night, it’s a great place for families to go and experience a great meal. As a neighborhood-friendly Italian eatery, it certainly shows why it does well for itself, and continues to stand out in the pack.Big Bob's ( Rating: out of 5 )
Where: 661 Crosswell Avenue, East Grand Rapids
Hours: Mon. to Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m.-9 p.m.
Ambiance: Italian family eatery
How much will it cost you: Entrees cost between $6 and $8, while basic pizzas start at $4.
Credit cards: All major
Contact: (616) 223-0123