Pat’s Pizza on Route 1 in Scarborough has a fair bit of competition. At least five other places within a mile of Pat’s tout some form of pizza from their shiny new signs or their alluring, boutique-style menus.

But Pat’s has been there longer than all the others, and the well-known pizza maker’s legacy includes 13 successful establishments throughout Maine. So this week’s assignment was all about getting down to business and focusing on the basics — pizza and a beer done by folks who’ve been doing pizza and beer since 1931.

Actually, they’ve been in business since 1931, and started making pizza in 1953. Still, that’s nothing to scoff at. Pat’s (at least the one in Scarborough, where I hung out at the bar for the evening) has about as solid a crowd of regulars as you can get.

When I arrived and took a seat at the bar, I was immediately called “hun” by the bartender. Now normally this kind of instant naming would irk me a bit, considering that “hun” is usually dropped as a pejorative remark about my status as a newcomer. But at Pat’s it was delivered with such sincerity and conviction that I knew, in that moment, that yes, my name was indeed “hun.”

As I sat there sipping a Shipyard Export, I found that my name was actually unique to me, as the bartender knew everybody else by their true first names and chatted with them like old friends. Conversation was both bawdy and friendly — perfect barroom conversation, if you ask me — and I was drawn in before I knew it.

The bar itself is understated, simple and small (seven seats small), so if you’re looking for frills, you won’t find them here. In some ways it seems that the bar was just dropped there among the booths and ceiling tiles because every good pizza place needs a bar, right?

Yet despite its feeling of being an afterthought — coupled with the sense that it could have been tucked away in your basement along with your tube TV and Atari game system — Pat’s bar is old-school charming. Plus, they know how to make pizza here. To me, that’s a winning combination.

Pat’s offers several drafts, including Shipyard, Geary’s, Stella, Bud, Bud Light and Miller Lite, a basic variety of bottled beers and an abbreviated selection of hard liquor. But, if you think about it, that’s all that’s really needed.

I mean, who in their right mind would order a Cosmo or some frilly, sugar-rimmed drink with pizza? If your patrons are looking for pizza and beer, why challenge a good thing? What Pat’s does it does well, including making you feel right at home with your pizza, your beer and your new buds at the bar.

 

Johanna Sorrell is a Portland freelance writer.