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Bom Bolla, Spanish Cava Bar, Set to Open Friday in Wicker Park

By Alisa Hauser | May 20, 2015 9:21am
 Bom Bolla opens in Wicker Park at 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Bom Bolla, 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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WICKER PARK — On Friday, Bom Bolla, a Cava-focused bar and Spanish restaurant from the folks behind Pops for Champagne will open in a 1880s-era building at the northeast corner of Milwaukee and Wood.

"It's a brand new building inside the skin of a very old building. We're really glad it was not demolished," said W. Craig Cooper, co-owner of Bom Bolla on Tuesday. 

The casual yet classy 80-seat eatery at 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave. features poster-sized murals of Debbie Harry from Blondie and Mick Jones from The Clash, a nod to the fact that in Spain, music and movie advertisements are often painted onto tiles, Cooper said.

Small touches, such as a bar stocked with a cold case containing four varieties of olives, cheeses and almonds fried in pork fat means that the same person pouring drinks might also be able to put together small plates designed for sharing.

Chef Matthew Lair said the goal behind the menu is "simplicity" and for the food to be served up by anyone on staff.

"It's not about a server standing in front of you and waxing poetic on what something is,  we are just saying, "Here, these are shrimp ... eat them!'" Lair said.

Alisa Hauser discusses the renovation and restaurant highlights:

Lair's menu emulates the authentic bar food that a person would find in Barcelona, such as montatidos —  open-faced breads topped with oysters and salmon, for instance — as well as bocadillos, small sandwiches with a few slices of pork or fried seafood.  

Bom Bolla also offers pinxos, or small snacks, such as eggplant or potato croquettes.

Though related to tapas, pinchos, derived from "pinch," the Spanish word for spike, are different from Americanized tapas because the snack is usually served with a toothpick or skewer.

On Wednesday, sous chef Alex Gido (previously with Hogsalt Hospitality's Green Street Meats) was straining potatoes behind the open kitchen that runs down a long hallway separating the bar from the back dining room.

Gido said the goal is to get his croquettes to have "a fine but gooey consistency" yet be perfectly crispy on the outside.

Gido, behind an open kitchen [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

Cooper, who is also Bom Bolla's beverage director, owns the new venture with Tom Verahy, owner of Pops for Champagne, which has been in business for over three decades, with Cooper on board for 15 of those years.

"We were looking for a way to do something different. Sparkling wine is our gig and Spain is one of the few regions in the world solely dedicated to sparkling wine or Cava," Cooper said.

For folks that do not want Cava (available in 20 types with 8 of those by the glass and the rest in bottles), an extensive drink menu also offers wines and craft beer, bottled and on draft.

An upstairs 40-seat dining room will open in September after the group figures out how the first floor runs best, Cooper said, adding that an under construction rooftop deck behind the building will likely open by next summer.

Bom Bolla, 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave.  Hours are 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Friday (kitchen closes at midnight); noon to 2 a.m. Saturday-Sunday. Ph: 773-698-6601.  Wheelchair accessible. For updates, visit Bom Bolla's Facebook page or follow on Twitter, @_bom_bolla.

(l.) An 1880s-era building in Wicker Park's Landmark District was saved from the wrecking ball and rehabbed due to the efforts of a neighborhood group. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]

W. Craig Cooper and Zandra "Z" Flores, Bom Bolla's front of the house manager. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]


Bom Bolla's Food Menu by Chef Lair

Bom Bolla Menu_beverage by Ashok Selvam

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