Mystery Diner: Ella’s Italian Pub arrives on Geneva dining scene

Ella's Italian Pub new in Geneva

A newcomer to the Geneva dining district is Ella’s Italian Pub on South Third Street, across from The Little Traveler.

The restaurant is the latest creation of chef-turned-restaurateur Brian Goewey, whose other Italian-focused enterprises in Geneva and St. Charles are Gia Mia and Livia. Ella’s launched April 25, and was hopping when we stopped by on a weekday mid-afternoon, including al fresco diners.

Two business spaces were combined in the sophisticated makeover creating a layout split between a dining room and eye-catching bar, its high-top seating paired with a comfy banquette with foot rests. A monochromatic color scheme is accented by bright china patterns and a light splash of orange in the Italian motor scooter-themed artworks.

My dining companion tried the bar’s weekday afternoon Happy Hour menu: a choice of pizza slices or appetizers and a beer or wine on tap. He selected the Rocketman, and a generous rectangle arrived, featuring fennel-infused sausage, mozzarella, the house cheese blend, sweet and spicy peppers, red onion, herbs, extra-virgin olive oil and garlic.

A Happy Hour serving of Rocketman pizza at Ella's Italian Pub in Geneva

“A glass of fine amber Italian beer paired nicely with the slice of Roman-style pan pizza; I’ll be back for this small plate Happy Hour deal,” my companion said, noting the Happy Hour also is offered from 9 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Prosciutto, arugula and burrata pizza at Ella's Italian Pub in Geneva

The restaurant’s signature Roman crust involves a double-bake method in a conventional oven that creates a light, fluffy texture, for a more bread-like base for toppings. We also shared a prosciutto, arugula and burrata pizza, and the crust was edged with crispy cheese for a tasty surprise. The pizza was delicious.

Arancini alla Vodka at Ella's Italian Pub in Geneva

I opened my meal with the Arancini alla Vodka appetizer. Five fried pieces arrived, a lusciously creamy concoction prepared with crispy risotto, roasted garlic, herbs, house mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano atop a marvelous vodka sauce.

The Heirloom Beets and Ricotta Salad at Ella's Italian Pub in Geneva

We split a salad of organic golden heirloom beets and arugula ringed by whipped ricotta to balance the tang of the vinaigrette. It was accented with pistachios, Parmigiano Reggiano, chives and balsamic.

The menu also offers “street sandwiches” for lunch, and dinner entrees ranging from blackened Scottish salmon and risotto to tomato braised beef short rib.

Chocolate Pot de Creme at Ella's Italian Pub in Geneva

We took a look at the dessert menu, which presents an Olive Oil Cake with apricot jam and mascarpone; Tiramisu; Vanilla Bean Panacotta with whipped mascarpone and macerated berries; and Chocolate Pot de Crème. That last one hooked us. It was a wonderfully decadent mix of house-made, double-whipped chocolate topped with whipped mascarpone and sweet slivers of amber-hued honey turned to edible sugar glass.

The newborn operation was running remarkably smoothly, and we enjoyed the bright energy of the room, the staccato of the cocktail shaker and the food at Ella’s Italian Pub. Welcome to the neighborhood!

• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.


WHAT: Ella’s Italian Pub

WHERE: 407 S. Third St., Geneva

PHONE: 630-457-1115