Bello's Pub & Grill

Bello’s Pub & Grill

Bello's Pub & Grill
NJ Town: Newark
Bar Type: Gastropub
Cuisines: Pub Grub

I don’t generally make a habit of hanging out in Newark. I’ve been called for jury duty there over the past couple of decades, but through a series of lucky breaks have only had to go in in-person once. I’m pretty sure I’m not a felon, though I’m starting to wonder. Otherwise, I’ve been there for club soccer when Hipster Jr. was younger and have picked up people coming from the Boston area at the train station. So I had no idea what to expect when meeting some folks prior to a Red Bulls game in nearby Harrison. Turns out, this Irish-adjacent pub and generic sports bar could have been just about anywhere. Midtown Manhattan, suburban New Jersey, Upstate New York. The fact it sat mid-block in Brick City was pretty irrelevant other than its proximity to the arena.

First, the New York Red Bulls do not, in fact, play in New York. The City or the State. Which should have been evident in the fact they were playing NYCFC, a club that is actually in the city of New York. Marketing, I guess. But unbeknownst to me — despite being to Red Bull Arena several times over the years — Harrison, NJ is basically right next to Newark. So Bello’s is like the Stout to MSG; the local sports bar where a bunch of white dudes can meet up to pre-game prior to walking over to the stadium/arena. The route to the Arena in this case is a little more circuitous — I seem to recall crossing a bridge with a bunch of folks — but it does seem like the path between the two locations is pretty well trodden.

Now, Bello’s claims to be a gastropub. You do you, Bello’s. We did way more drinking than eating at this establishment, so I can’t qualify the claim, but the menu looked like pretty standard pub grub to me. In fact, the whole joint was pretty cookie-cutter, standard fare. It’s the traditional skinny setup. Windows up front facing the street, long wood bar with stools on the left, some wood tables lining the wall in the right. And not a whole lot of room between the two. TVs over the bar, soccer banners hanging from a dark ceiling probably covering up some stains from upstairs and a volume level somewhere between rumbly garbage truck and jet engine. The relatively diminutive size and svelte width of the space leads to all sorts of do-si-do-ing and kind of annoying pirouettes trying to let dudes by to get to the bathroom and/or work their way to the bar to grab brews. The drunker the crowd, the more jostling. When the time came to leave for the game, I was more than happy to skedaddle. Not because the bar was unpleasant, but more because I feel like I’d been through the ringer.

Otherwise, I think there might be a decent list of beers somewhere, but I just had some rando friend of a friend occasionally hand me a pint of some sort of generic American lager or European pilsner. I wasn’t about to be chugging pints of an 8% IPA before sitting in the sun, anyway. But I do like to see taps that go beyond some Shock Top, Dogfish Head and your Buds Lights. Look, I don’t think Bello’s is gonna light the craft brewing or culinary world on fire. And if you’re a less sensitive imbiber than me, perhaps it might even be good for a little elbow rubbin’ before a big soccer match. But unless you’re a local, I don’t see much reason to come here when there are 15 places just like it in the towns and cities surrounding it. And, hey, maybe their cheeseburgers are incredible. Or their wings. Because this family will travel for burgers and wings. And, man, if I don’t root for Newark’s continued resurgence. The more successful businesses there are, the better it is for the city. So if you’re in the ‘hood (for a game or jury duty or otherwise), go give them your money. And probably don’t tell them I sent you.

376 Market St. – Newark