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Bar Uno: Developing Casual Campus Dining

CSU dining is in its early stages of development and Bar Uno attracts students with a Chicago style menu and a traditional bar atmosphere

March 3, 2011

BY DEREK AMRICH

The campus watering hole has transformed from a dry well into a veritable geyser in the fall of 2010 with the opening of Bar Uno.

Gone is The Shire, which actually had more of a bomb shelter in Mordor feel to it, and the grade-school cafeteria menu that it offered. The dimly-lit space and cramped columned-booth seating made the to-go option a wise choice, even at the expense of the entertainment. While the Pac-Man machine was a nice amenity in the early 80’s, it served as a landmark to encapsulate the need to update the tired ole Shire.

Bar Uno is a grown up version of the campus bar atmosphere, however, is struggling in the early stages to appeal to the student base and assert itself as a place to go when class is over and the sun goes down. The large commuter base has not been tapped, but not for a lack of effort.

Upon entering the pub, a sharp right turn is greeted with a barrage of big-screen delight as five of the eight LCD televisions garner your attention on the back wall.

The barroom opens into seat-yourself, squared tables under a vaulted ceiling filled with LED recessed can lights. High-top tables for three are situated behind the glass enclosure at the front of the room and offer a view of the first floor of the Student Center. The bar itself is fixed with eight swivel-seats, leaving ample room to spread the elbows and belly up. The substantive space is a relaxing and inviting breath of fresh air, much like the popular seasonal patio seating when the weather warms.

And what goes better with a nice sunny day than a refreshing cold beer? As one of the few locations on campus that responsibly serves beer, Uno offers eight selections from the tap including seasonal selections from Great Lakes and Samuel Adams. Several domestic bottle options, including a gluten-free option from Redbridge, are moderately priced. If you’re a little light in the wallet, pick up a Pabst Blue Ribbon, who proves that the only good swill is cheap swill, for $2.50.

The variety of the menu is a sampling spread of popular classic dishes and vegetarian options to cater to the wide range of patrons’ tastes. The menu falls under the typical bar cuisine category with a varietal twist.

Born from the famed Pizzeria Uno and home to deep-dish crust in Chicago, Bar Uno is a franchised offshoot geared for on-the-go airport and campus locales. The hand-made classic remains the menus signature item.

The flaky and buttery, fresh-out-of-the-oven hot, deep-dished personal pizza has a sister thin style with the option of five-grain or traditional crust, all less than $7.

Appetizers, such as the filling Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla ($5.59), has a vegetable twin filled with a colorful array of roasted zucchini, summer squash, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, carmelized onions, peppers, mozzarella and feta cheeses.

Pre-prepared salads, like the Goji Power Salad ($6.99), represent a balanced meal and are another option for a first-course bite, or add chicken for a full meal. If you prefer soup, Uno offers three daily varieties including several vegetarian options.

Sandwich options range in size from bite size sliders, which can be mixed and matched in a Sliders Sampler, to grilled paninis for hot sandwiches. Cold cuts and proteins are served on an artisan Ciabatta roll or in flax, whole wheat and oat bran lavash deli wrap.

Bar Uno sensibly caters to the on-the-run lifestyle, leaving those looking for personal service disappointed. While it makes financial sense to serve oneself, the dining experience of having someone tend to you is lost. A service staff adds personality to the experience and a reason to frequent an establishment when the option of bar food is available at every block.

Bar Uno operates Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 3 p.m. to midnight and Sundays from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. A popular spot before and after Wolstein Center events, Bar Uno is a welcome addition to CSU.