The building Marinaro’s Larkin Tavern occupies is more than 120 years old. Once a grocery store and more recently Sharkey’s bar, Marinaro’s was opened four years ago by brothers Chris and Jerry Marinaro.
One can’t help but love the retro gin mill vibe against the backdrop of the developing Larkinville area.
With nods to two of Buffalo’s entrenched nationalities, Irish and Italian flags proudly fly outside.
Old-school drinkers will appreciate the tavern’s ambiance. Sports buffs will revel in the collection of interesting memorabilia.
The old wood bar and stamped tin ceiling is quintessential Buffalo. Bar stools provide sitting and there’s plenty of standing room. A footstep under the bar helps those standing, too.
Behind the bar, a picture of a buxom maiden (the St. Pauli Girl?) hoists steins and keeps an eye on things.
The homey décor touches, like fall leaves and pumpkins (plus the all-around cleanliness of the place) works with the manly sports persona. The sports memorabilia is an eclectic mix of items from bowling and boxing to Sabres and Bills. There’s even seating from long-gone venues.
Under the light of a flickering Budweiser sign hang items from former Sabres’ goalies Roger Crozier and Gerry Desjardins and a photo of “The Hit Heard Round the World,” one of the best-known plays in Bills’ history.
Some items reminded us of our fourth-grade bedroom. Didn’t we all have pennants of the Boston Patriots, Houston Oilers, Oakland Raiders, N.Y. Jets and the sweet powder blue San Diego Chargers fanned out and secured with thumbtacks on our wall?
Added to the mix are retro beer trays and signage from Indian Head, Beck’s, Iroquois and Genny, among others.
Blue- and white-collar folks mix freely at Marinaro’s, with neither out of place. Televisions broadcast Bills, Sabres and Yankees games. A TV in an adjacent dining room ensures nobody misses the action.
On tap are local favorites from Flying Bison, Big Ditch, Hamburg and Southern Tier along with seasonals from Sam Adams and Shock Top. Bottles include classics like Genny, Genny Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Wines and drinks are by-the-book basics. While we’re sure they would make you an exotic martini, belting down bourbon on the rocks will earn you a little more tavern cred.
Marinaro’s soothes the hunger beast with the best of the “bar food pyramid.” Finger foods including tacos, nachos, subs, sandwiches and great burgers (think Buffalo blue, Greek and pizza), plus chicken wings (regular, garlic Parmesan, barbecue or mango barbecue) fill the void. A Friday fish fry extends to Wednesday, Friday and Saturday during Lent.
While Marinaro’s may not be as flashy as Larkinville’s Hydraulic Hearth, it more than makes up for it in friendliness and a down-to-earth drinking experience any time day or night.
Marinaro’s Larkin Tavern
Where: 131 Van Rensselaer St. (845-5400, marinaroslarkintavern.com)
Scene: A quintessential Buffalo tavern.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Open Sundays during football.
Happy Hour: Weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. with $2.50 well drinks and bottled beer.
Bills game specials: $25 open bar and wings at halftime and buckets of Coors Light (four) for $10.
Decor note: Robin egg blue wall color in the bar is a very cool choice.
Food: Full menu until 9 p.m., fryer items until close.
Yum: Marnaro’s Premium Fries with toppings, like bacon with ranch dressing or Supreme, a combination of nacho cheese, bacon, olives, jalapeno and scallions.
Need to know: Cash only. ATM on site.
Check out: Neat family photos in the back dining area.
Pool Table: 1
Beer Taps: 7
Leather Football Helmet: 1
Bills Helmets: 3
Traffic Signal: 1