GARFIELD, N.J. -- Red upholstered banquettes line wood-paneled walls and an old-fashioned paper menu telling you to 'Ring bell for service" signal Barcelona's Restaurant & Bar is a Garfield hallmark.
It's been around for four generations, in fact, run since 1971 by Jim LaRose and his wife, Elaine. Elaine's grandfather, Peter Barcelona opened the Italian-American establishment in 1933.
Since then, Barcelona's has been famous for its thin-crust pizza, easy-going, casual dining room with long tables to accommodate large groups and literally hundreds of entrees, not least of which are 20 different ways to have spaghetti.
Peter passed the business to his son Frank "Jiggs," who passed it to Elaine and Jim. Today, their son, Chris, helps run the restaurant. "My dad's a machine at 80-years-old and you'd never know it," he said in an interview..
"We make pizza, cook lasagna other dishes and clean. Everybody does everything here," Chris said.
"My brother's a teacher and works here sometimes. My sister's a mom and helps out when she can. She takes care of the website. My niece started waitressing recently," he added.
Barcelona's has has some of the same wait staff for years, some for decades, Chris noted.
The siblings grew up helping out in the restaurant business and know many patrons who've come since they were kids.
"I see people I remember growing up who now bring their own kids."
Not much has changed in the recipes patrons expect though a patriotic theme evolved after 9/11.
The dining room's hallmark is an American flag. A mural of the Manhattan skyline before the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers runs the length of one wall.
Families come in a lot. Veterans too. "We have many locals," said Chris. "Our prices are so reasonable. If (people) come for date night, it's young people because of the prices."
"We've always been patriotic. My dad's always taken care of the veterans and on Veteran's Day we have specials. We're a patriotic family. We support our troops right to the end and our country," he added.
Business ebbs and flows here like any other. Things tend to slow down in summer, especially when the weather's good.
"When it's a beautiful weekend, it pushes people to barbecue or go away somewhere. I root for rainy days," he laughed.
If you go:
Barcelona's is at 38 Harrison Ave., Garfield.
For more information call (973) 778-4930 or click here.