BomboBar: Worth the hype?

Restaurant Review


Alex Chanen

S’mores "Cooler Chocolate" with house-made double chocolate gelato.

At first, I was a bit skeptical to try the infamous BomboBar. It’s gathered a large Instagram following since its opening in 2016, and to be frank, the sweet treats shown in the pictures looked over-the-top and kitschy.

BomboBar was opened by Fabio Viviani, a charismatic past Top Chef contestant known for his take on Italian food, and the restaurant group DineAmic. In fact, BomboBar is connected to Bar Siena, one of Viviani’s critically acclaimed restaurants that boasts Italian fare. The focus of the dessert spot is an Italian sweet treat called a bomboloni.

According to Food and Wine, the bomboloni, also called bomba in various parts of Italy, is a piece of fried dough and in this case, hole-less. This may just sound like a donut, but it is so much more.

When I did eventually make it to the window counter on Randolph Row, I was pleasantly surprised with the abundance of options and the production line going on inside. For the bombolonis, there was the frying station, the powder station and the assembly station, each integral to the final and delicious product.

Apple cinnamon, maple and Nutella cream are just a few of the flavor combinations that change seasonally. Though I was intrigued by the plethora of menu items, I had to narrow down my choice to just one flavor. Why only one? After seeing the size of the bombas and frozen hot chocolates being passed to the customers next to me, I made a judgment call that wouldn’t completely spike my blood sugar level.

This was hands down the best donut I’ve ever indulged in. Light, fluffy and best of all, warm. If you think Krispy Kreme donuts are airy, this donut will completely topple that notion.

Quite honestly, when I first saw on Instagram that each bomboloni had a bottle of a type of donut filling sticking out of the hole that read “Squeeze Me,” a major eye roll ensued. The playfulness seemed like it may be making up for the actual flavor of the donut. Now, I regret my elitist reaction and constantly long to indulge in the contents of that squeezable bottle.

At $3.50 a donut, it may seem a bit pricey, but it greatly surpasses other Chicago donuts I’ve tried. I can’t speak for every donut, but none has felt so delicate — nor has a donut put me at a loss for words.

Amanda Lafferty
Apple cinnamon bomba at BomboBar.

At BomboBar, the Italian donut is not the only item worth ordering.

For a summer treat that you’ll crave as much as the donut, get the “Cooler Chocolate.” When I made my way to the dessert spot, S’mores and Confetti were the two options for this frozen hot chocolate. In order to call it a “Cooler Chocolate” instead of just the “Hotter Chocolate,” I had to pick a gelato flavor.

Though the house-made double chocolate gelato was some of the best ice cream I’ve eaten, I don’t know why I didn’t go for something less rich with the already intensely sweet s’mores toppings. There were small, crunchy pearls of chocolate, a chocolate donut, and marshmallow, all atop the gelato. I would call myself a chocolate lover but really, choose a less overindulgent flavor.

BomboBar excels at playful summer treats whether it be a delicate donut or outrageous frozen desserts. When making your way to BomboBar, embrace its social media popularity and enjoy their decadent options.