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DATELINE DINING: Finbars Was Born In Brooklyn

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Finbars Pizza

It's New York Style Pizza at Finbars Because the Owner Grew Up in Brooklyn.

“Start with some olive oil. Cook sausage, meatballs and pork shoulder.”

It sounds like a scene from a classic movie (You know which one), but it’s really Finbars owner Joseph Barbara describing how he prepares “Sunday Gravy.”

“Remove the meat and fry garlic and onion and add tomato paste, creating the roué. Cook for a while and deglaze the pan with chianti. Add fresh ground tomatoes and cook for about three or four hours until you get a one-quarter to one-third reduction.

“Return meatballs and sausages and cook for another two or three hours.”

Now it’s ready. It’s called Sunday Gravy because it takes too long to make during the week.

“Some people think of brown sauce," Barbara said. “But it’s more than that. It’s a typical Italian American grandma thing.

“It’s as homemade as homemade can be.” 

About The Food

The Sunday Gravy is part of two of the most popular dishes: Lasagna ($13.95) and spaghetti with meatballs ($14.95).

Customers also like one of the “Left Coast Pastas,” Chicken Tequila Fettuccine, which features tequila lime jalapeño cream sauce and spinach fettuccine.

Can’t go wrong with pizza at an Italian place. Barbara’s from Brooklyn so it’s New York style. People prefer the Margherita (fresh basil, garlic, fontina and mozzarella) or the Barbecue Chicken, which includes mozzarella and smoked gouda.

Finbars Chicken Franchaise

At Finbars, Chicken Franchaise comes with Fettucine Quartro Fromaggi and seasonable vegetables.

There’s a full lunch menu. Try the Shrimp Sandwich (Barbara: “Awesome”) with fresh shrimp, fresh pesto, mozzarella on toasted hero roll or flatbreads.

They have burgers and for veggie fans, the Good Earth Sandwich: Tomatoes, red onion, alfalfa sprouts, fresh spinach, cucumbers, avocado and Swiss cheese with thousand island on Indian Grain bread.

Desserts are all homemade, except for the gelato, which is custom-made for Finbars by an outside supplier.

Serving The Customer

Finbars is airy with an open kitchen and a bar along one side.

“I want it to be for regular meals, not just special occasions,” Barbara said.

“It’s good to be with family and friends, have good conversation, a good bottle of wine and good food.

“We want people to return as regulars and we keep that in mind when setting the prices."

That includes the daily Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m., which features regular size pizzas for just $5.

Where It Started

The name comes from St. Finbars parish and school in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, where Barbara was born.

After learning real Italian cooking, Barbara’s career took him to Atlanta, Florida and California, where he put him time at California Pizza Kitchen. But he said he has always wanted to own his own place.

After operating FInbars in Costa Mesa and another location in Seal Beach, Barbara opened the current location in July 2016.

His fiancée Theresa Devoti is a partner in Finbars. The family business is rounded out with Barbara's nephew Anthony Sinisalchi and his wife, Sam.

Also a partner, his nephew Anthony Sinisalchi's wife, Sim, rounds out the family involvement.

Important To Know

Besides vegetarian alternatives, gluten free pasta is served.

Finbars is at 1041 PCH in Seal Beach. Free parking. Call (562) 346-2277 or visit is

Kurt comes to the Gazettes with 30 years experience in broadcasting and journalism. He has produced and/or directed hundreds of television programs, including news, sports, entertainment, election coverage, town meetings and telethons.

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