Lunch at Barcelona's on a rainy Friday afternoon isn't a standing-room-only affair. The dark, red-lit bar is empty save for a construction worker finishing up his basket of mussels and the remnants of a hoagie, another guy watching "The People's Court" on one TV while he tucks into an antipasto salad, and the bartender catching up on "The Young and the Restless" on the other screen. So I've got lots of room to spread out, shake the rain off my puffy vest, settle in with a pint of Goose Island under the watchful eye of an Elvis Presley bust, and wait for my bar pie ($8).
It's a good thing I asked the bartender what her favorite topping was: the rounds of sweet sausage, sliced and scattered pepperoni-style, punctuated the mouthfuls of melted cheese I was slurping down. The floppy crust couldn't withstand the onslaught of mozzarella, sliding off the thin dough like a river of lava. The sauce? A little too sugary for me, but others might find it a right-on counterpoint to the salty cheese.
It's a shame that the pizza wasn't everything I hoped it would be, but the ambiance won my heart, from the Elvis bust to the red vinyl booths to seriously old-school cash registers that the cash-only spot uses to ring you up. Barcelona's is a neighborhood place that prides itself on feeding its community and then some. The small bar pie was enough for two more nights of dinner (hey, I'm not one to turn down leftover pizza) and crisped up nicely in the oven with a few shakes of red pepper flakes for more contrast.
The antipasto salad, by the way, looked incredible: a mountain of salami, cheese, peppers, olives, and anchovies on the side if you're into them. I'd be a happy gal with a plate of that and a pint of Goose for another rainy-day lunch—and besides, I really want to see if the gals on "The Young and the Restless" went through with their nefarious plan.
About the author: Casey Barber is the editor of Good. Food. Stories., a freelance food writer, and a transplanted Pittsburgher making the most of the Garden State. Find her on Twitter: @GoodFoodStories