The LOCAL Bar and Kitchen in Gibbstown recently reopened after a major remodel which was needed due to a devastating fire in February of 2022. Today the LOCAL Bar is all new, beautifully remodeled, and offering amazing tavern food and more.
And when I say amazing food… most folks don’t realize that this small town bar and restaurant is owned by a husband and wife couple who are part of the Giumarello Family… yes of Haddon Township’s Giumarello Italian restaurant, which is considered to be one of South Jersey’s best dining experiences.
At its heart the LOCAL Bar & Kitchen in Gibbstown is a small town tavern with an extensive craft beer selection, awesome bar for friends old and new, and a really nice outdoor bar and dining set up.
That being said, Gian and Giavanna Giumarello have definitely brought their culinary expertise to the LOCAL bar, upgrading all aspects of the menu from the classic tavern food items such as wings and sandwiches, to introducing really interesting “blackboard special” entrees.
I stopped in again yesterday and absolutely had one of the best meatball parmesan sandwiches I’ve ever had. The meatballs are house-made in the restaurant. The sauce is house-made. Every aspect of the meatball sandwich was perfectly seasoned and incredibly delicious.
Honestly I want to go back for another one, or maybe to try the chicken parmesan sandwich… or one of their amazing specials.
This 42Freeway job of mine is so hard!
The new LOCAL Bar & Kitchen
Gian and Giovanna are successful restaurateurs, part of the family and operators of South Jersey’s famous Giumarello’s Restaurant and G-Lounge in Haddon Township.
Gian started in the family restaurant at 16, and worked his way up to a Line Chef position.
In the 1990s Gian branched out into other restaurant and bakery experiences to broaden his knowledge, working with Chef Yann Machard at Symphony Desserts, and also in Philadelphia’s famous Termini’s Bakery.
Gian then opened Giumarello’s Pastries in 1995, and three years later decided to join forces with the family at the Giumarello’s Restaurant.
Gian wasn’t done learning and expanding his skills, as he attended bartending school and developed the “G-Bar Lounge” and cocktail menu for the Westmont restaurant.
Today, when people talk about best Italian food and amazing bar experience in South Jersey… Giumarello’s is always a part of the conversation, can be a tough reservation to get… and Gian is a big part of that success!
But if you haven’t realized from this write-up, Gian is not someone to sit still, and is always looking for the next adventure to expand his culinary skills and opportunities.
In 2017 Gian and his wife Giovanna were looking to run a more casual local tavern and restaurant, something where they could put the focus on craft beer and delicious homemade comfort food… without crushing people in the wallet.
They found the perfect spot in Gibbstown. It likely wasn’t too long of a search for the couple, as Gibbstown is Giovanna’s hometown!
It just felt right for her to return home and invest time and money into a local tavern, elevating it in all aspects while still keeping it part of the community as a spot for locals to hang out with friends.
Previously known as Babe’s, the then new owners upgraded the bar and menu, renamed it to the LOCAL BAR, and for several years they were very successful in their core plan of bringing delicious food and exciting craft beers to the Gibbstown area.
Unfortunately in February of 2022 a devastating fire ripped through the bar and restaurant, leaving the LCOAL Bar & Kitchen closed for almost a year and a half.
Reopening the bar required extensive remodeling and upgrades. In June of this year the LOCAL Bar and Kitchen reopened.
I stopped in the day after they reopened in early June, and had a wonderful conversation with Giovanna about the reopening of the restaurant.
There were still many final details being worked out, so I said I would hold off a few weeks before posting to give them some time to get back on their feet again.
Yesterday was actually my third visit and I really like what they’ve done with the local place, and how it offers a variety of dining and bar experiences.
So I have to be upfront and honest in that while I was a Facebook follower of the LOCAL bar, I never did get a chance to visit them before the fire, so I can’t really give a comparison to what the place looks like now versus what it was before.
The LOCAL bar is located at the corner of Broad Street and Pine with a fresh dark blue exterior and a back patio bar.
Parking is mostly on the local streets, and I was told by a customer that folks will park in the Post Office lot across the street when the Post Office is closed (evenings).
While the LOCAL bar is not an overly large place, there really are four distinct dining areas to the restaurant.
The front area is ground level and features the main bar area, which a large rectangular bar seating about 20 people situated in the center, as well as additional high top tables around the bar.
The interior carries the dark blue wall painting throughout the space, but in the bar area they contrast it with a very light wood grain floor and table tops. Even the bar countertop is of a lighter but more brownish tone.
It looks open, bright and appealing, while still being a local community bar.
One thing that really jumped out at me is the bar tap system that they have, as I’ve never seen anything like this before! Well at least the way it’s uniquely installed!
The tap system is that thick chrome pipe design where the taps are able to be placed in a straight line across the horizontal portion of the pipe, but what I haven’t seen is instead of the system coming up from the floor… it actually hangs from the roof!
It makes for a cool and interesting center focal spot because, again I’ve just never really seen anything like that.
And it seems the LOCAL bar takes their craft beer selection seriously as they have a large monitor on the wall dedicated to what it available in the taps, and it’s also viewable from their website.
Around the bar area are several televisions as you would expect, and the restrooms are down on this lower level also.
The second interesting feature about the bar area space is there is a large open “window” area to a dedicated indoor dining space behind the bar, which is actually raised up several steps higher.
This dining area provides a comfortable dining table space, as well as a long countertop sitting area which runs along the base of that open window. Seating at that counter you are looking into the bar area.
In my visit yesterday a large family group came in for a late lunch, and the half dozen young kids had positioned themselves right on that counter overhang area. For them it was a fun kids-only spot, but remember mom and dad.. they are picking up everything that is said in the bar! ha!
The third area of the LOCAL bar takes us outside where a large covered deck was developed off the back of the restaurant.
The deck features a second outdoor bar… sort of like a tiki bar but without the tiki features, which seats for about 10 people at the bar.
The deck is large enough that there’s room for additional tables and seating, and really it just becomes a whole new experience at the LOCAL bar and kitchen
Right now they are opening that back outdoor bar area on Friday and Saturdays, although I didn’t catch the exact hours.
I mentioned there’s a fourth area… And that is also outside.
Beyond that elevated deck bar area is a small backyard style grass patio and building where additional tables and chairs are setup. The building has a large overhang patio roof for additional shaded seating.
LOCAL Bar and Kitchen: The Food
I’ve made three visits to the LOCAL bar and kitchen and tried several of the very traditional bar and Tavern menu items.
In my first visit I went with the garlic parmesan wings and mozzarella sticks. In my most recent visit I tried the meatball parmigiana sandwich
I had to start with “garlic parm” wings because I have fond memories of visiting another (now closed) Gibbstown bar called Mary’s Panhead, and she offered some of the best garlic-parm wings I’ve ever had.
And the version of garlic-parm wings at the LOCAL Bar and Kitchen really live up to all of my expectations of a delicious wing, bursting with flavor.
The wing sauce was a slightly thicker and creamier garlic-parm sauce, and the wings were just completely covered with that delicious cheesy garlic taste.
Pepper and seasoning was added to the wings and if you just look at the photo they look amazing. And I can tell you they tasted amazing.
I also grabbed some blue cheese to go with those wings. For me, blue cheese is the only choice.
Honestly I thought they were some of the best garlic-parm wings that I’ve had. Good sized chicken pieces and the flavor of the parmesan and garlic was just there and delicious without being overpowering.
And as I sit here look at the photo that I took back in June I’m thinking, “Damn I have to get down there very soon to get more!”
In that same trip I also tried their mozzarella sticks… which as you would expect are not something that’s coming from a frozen box. The LOCAL bar and kitchen are making these mozzarella sticks in the store, breading them, frying them, and serving with a delicious house made tomato sauce.
Yesterday when I stopped back in around lunchtime I was absolutely starving and struggled between going with a chicken-parm or a meatball parmesan sandwich.
I talked it through with my wonderful bartender Madison and in the end I made my decision to go with the meatballs because the Giumarello’s restaurant is well known for making amazing meatballs.
As you would expect, the meatballs are also house made with the finest ingredients. Perfectly delicious and tender with a hint of garlic.
Honestly the Gibbstown version fully lived up to the legend of amazing meatballs, and an amazingly prepared sandwich.
The sandwich was finished by smothering the meatballs in an amazing sauce and melted provolone cheese, and sprinkled with some parmesan.
I’m told the rolls are from Del Buono’s Bakery in Haddon Heights, and they had a perfect light toast on them so there was that crunch when you take that first bite, but then the roll interior was soft.
So the other really interesting aspect of the menu at the LOCAL bar is that they really extend the traditional tavern experience with elevated “blackboard” specials in the Gibbstown Tavern.
Recently they were promoting a Stuffed Eggplant, rolled and stuffed with mozzarella & ricotta cheese topped with our housemade tomato sauce garnished with fresh local basil!
Or how about Frutti di Mare, which is a seafood combination featuring shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams over organic linguine and smothered in a white garlic sauce. Each order is made fresh!
And how about this from the regular menu? Chicken Grigliata, which is grilled chicken, sauteed spinach, mushrooms and chopped tomato… not only does it look amazing, it looks very healthy also!!
And another bonus is.. during my visit I was recognized a couple times as the 42Freeway guy. I was trying to keep it low-key! But I had a great hanging and chatting with neighborhood guy Joe (originally from Bellmawr) as well as another gentleman who stopped over to say hi, but i missed his name
Links and Location
Note: they do not have a dedicated parking lot. Street parking mostly.
LOCAL Bar & Kitchen
377 West Broad Street