Other than fast food joints and a handful of cafes and restaurants in downtown Jonesborough and along U.S. Highway 11E, there aren’t many dining options in Tennessee’s oldest town.
Downtown Jonesborough doesn’t even have the same number of restaurants it did a little more than a year ago, following the closure of both The Cranberry Thistle and Bistro 105.
“If you live around Jonesborough, you’re either driving out to Boones Creek or into Johnson City to eat dinner, and everyone would rather stay close to home, I think,” Chef Alex Bomba said.
Rather than take his business elsewhere, Bomba decided Jonesborough needed a boost in its restaurant scene, so he and his wife, Breelyn, opened Bomba’s Fresh Italian at 125 E. Jackson Blvd.
The restaurant has been open for about a month.
The Bombas have been in the restaurant business for quite some time. Breelyn’s family runs Main Street Café and Catering, and Alex is a classically-trained chef who previously worked at Eventide Restaurant in Arlington, Va.
While Jonesborough has a few pizza parlors, the town doesn’t have a full-menu Italian restaurant.
Bomba said choosing to open an Italian restaurant wasn’t hard since Jonesborough was in the market for one.
“It was kind of a market decision for it to be Italian when the opportunity came to be in this building. It’s been a handful of other restaurants and they’ve had their own issues of why they didn’t make it. I think it’s a great location,” he said.
Bomba’s Fresh Italian is located in Fox Plaza in the former space that housed Daily Bread, a restaurant owned by former New Orleans Hornets owner George Shinn.
Daily Bread closed its doors in June, leaving the space vacant.
It’s proximity to both downtown and the George P. Jaynes Justice Center will only help in keeping hungry patrons coming through doors, Bomba said.
“There’s enough tourists during the day to satisfy lunch and then the great thing is Jonesborough was really ready for another place to eat dinner,” he said.
Bomba’s Fresh Italian is serving lunch and dinner, with an emphasis on using as much fresh ingredients as possible.
“We put fresh in the name for a reason. We make all of our own sauces, all of our own sausages, and all of our own meatballs. We make a handful of the pastas from scratch,” Bomba said.
The menu consists of Italian staples, such as chicken Parmesan, lasagna, Italian wedding soup, and spaghetti and meatballs.
“It’s stuff that everyone has heard of. It’s chicken Parmesan, lasagna and that sort of thing, but it’s not showing up on a truck and I’m not reheating it,” Bomba said.
The lunch menu consists of a variety of sandwiches, salads and pastas, while dinner features more traditional Italian entrees.
Prices range from a build-your-own pasta lunch for $5 to a Tuscan steak and potato dinner for $19.
Bomba’s Fresh Italian is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., and Tuesday-Saturday from 5-9 p.m. For more information, call 913-4685.