The Scene

It’s all about the dough at Ella’s Italian Pub in Geneva

Ella's Italian Pub new in Geneva

When a newly opened eatery elicits online comments like “Amazing,” “Phenomenal” and “Yummo,” you know it’s got to be something special.

Ask chef and co-owner Mike Bomberger the reason, and he’ll explain that what sets Ella’s Italian Pub apart from the pizza pack is its Roman-style pizza.

Ella's Italian Pub is located at.407 S. Third St., Geneva.

“Ella’s is really about the dough,” said Bomberger, who opened the pub in April at 407 S. Third St., Geneva, with business partner and co-owner Brian Goewey, also a chef.

“Brian and I love pizza and started thinking about this project eight months [earlier],” Bomberger said. “He went to New York for a trip and had a Sicilian pie he really enjoyed.” The two experimented. “We talked about it, and created this dough formula in the double-baked method that nobody has. It dates back 100-plus years in Rome.”

The process results in a unique crispy bottom and a super light and airy inside.

“I call it the stained-glass effect,” Bomberger said. “My bakers come in at midnight; they usually work overnight on the dough; I usually follow up early morning and pop about 10 doughs. When I hold them up to the light, I can see through the dough like stained glass. That’s what makes our dough special. If we don’t see that, then we have to start all over.”

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

After working together for 25 years, the fast friends know what they’re doing. Ella’s is the fourth eatery in the BG Hospitality Group, which also includes GIA MIA, Livia Italian Eatery and moto imōto. Customers can enjoy outdoor dining in fine weather on Ella’s patio. They already have opened a second Ella’s location in Elmhurst, and plan to launch the third in Western Springs.

In addition to pizza, Ella’s offers a creative and diverse menu, including Italian pub-style street food.

“We make a great Arancini in Vodka Sauce,” Bomberger said. “It’s our number one best-seller.” The Ella’s house salad is also a favorite, with apple cider vinaigrette from scratch. “We use all fresh organic ingredients; everything is hand cut, and the lettuces are hand torn.” But obviously the big favorite for Ella’s is the Roman-style pizza.

Ella’s also offers bigger plates, bar bites and signature pastas. Try the blackened Scottish salmon with risotto, tomato braised beef short rib with polenta or soppressata meatball sliders with house tomato sauce and arugula.

Customers can enjoy a full bar, which supports local breweries, and an extensive imported wine list. Cocktails include Ella’s Old Fashioned and a specialty lemonade drink. Happy Hour boasts a slice of chef’s Roman-style pizza or bar snack and a beer or wine on tap – “all for a great price,” Bomberger said.

There’s one more thing that sets Ella’s apart, Bomberger said.

“We love what we do,” he said. “It’s our passion and our commitment to the food side of it, but I just have to say that everybody who works for us is like family.”

Some of Ella’s team members have been with the restaurant group for more than 20 years.

“It’s truly about them,” Bomberger said. “We work side by side.”