Pete and Laurie Toarmina, along with Pete’s two sisters and their husbands, opened Mangiamo Italian Grill on Saline’s Main St. in 2011. The restaurant and its adjacent bar are on the first floor of a three-story nineteenth-century building. In 2013, they renovated the second floor and turned its 4,000 square feet into two huge banquet rooms, one of which is regularly booked for the Mangiamo Acoustic Routes concert series. But they still had thousands of square feet on the third floor. “I joked to Laurie back in 2010 when we first bought the building, saying that we could play bocce on the third floor!” says Pete.

It’s not a joke anymore. Mangiamo Bocce opened in mid-October, on the top floor of the building, the tallest in the city (in fact, the twenty-four-hour webcam that’s keeping an eye on Michigan Ave. road construction is mounted inside one of the windows in the corner of the bocce room). Tuesday- and Wednesday-night bocce leagues are well underway, and Toarmina already has a deep list of alternates eager to sub in for league players.

Renovating the third floor took months of painstaking labor. “The walls and ceiling were covered with 100 percent black soot from the second- and third-floor fire back in 1978,” says Toarmina. “We had to tear out all the smoke-damaged plaster and lug it in five-gallon buckets down two flights of steps out to the Dumpster. That took awhile.” He left a few jagged patches of plaster over the brick to give it a rustic look.

The 2,000-square-foot bocce room is big enough for two lanes, each sixty-seven feet long and just over nine feet wide, divided by black wrought iron fencing. Each end of the room has a couple of bistro tables and chairs in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Twinkling Edison string lights crisscross the new insulated ceiling. An overflow room across the hall offers more tables and chairs. Its brick walls are painted white and adorned with gold-framed reproductions that once hung on the first floor when it was Kelly’s Bar–European street scenes and portraits by Renoir, Cassatt, and even Leonardo: “That’s the original,” says Toarmina with just a hint of a smile, pointing to the Mona Lisa.

“A lot of the teams have players who rotate, so the overflow room is perfect for that or for friends and family who come to watch but also want to sit down and eat something,” explains Toarmina. Back in the bocce room, he and Laurie demonstrate how to play. Printed instructions sit on a small table along with two house rules: “Please–no food or drink on the lanes” and “Have fun!”

Play begins with a coin flip. The winning team rolls a small white ball called the pallino. It must pass the centerline but not go over the far foul line. The object of the game is to roll the bocce ball closest to the pallino. One team is red, the other dark green. White, green, and red: it’s an Italian game after all. Only one team scores points in any frame or round: the one whose bocce ball is closest to the pallino. The team that reaches eleven points first wins.

You don’t have to join a league to play. The lanes can be rented for $8 per person per hour and the entire bocce room and overflow room for $100 an hour. “It’s already been rented twice by a local company using it as a team-building event, and I have a couple similar bookings in November and December,” says Toarmina. “We offer one of our servers to wait on people who rent the bocce room,” says Toarmina, explaining that pizza, appetizers, and beer specials are all available for the bocce players and fans.

Mangiamo Italian Grill, 107 W. Michigan Ave., 429-0060. Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (pizza only after 9 p.m.), Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight (pizza only after 10 p.m.). Bocce same hours, by reservation only.