Pizza Villa is a hot spot for medical staff, sporting fans and those wanting to kick back and relax. Located in Portland’s West End and close to Maine Medical Center, the pizzeria and bar has been an institution since 1965. The family-owned-and-operated business is extremely welcoming and very casual.

I stopped by recently for a bit of lunch and a drink with a friend. We found a parking spot right in front of the restaurant on Congress Street, and popped in. You’ve got to walk through the restaurant with its many booths to get to the bar off to the side. It was quiet for the lunch hour, but the kitchen staff was gearing up for Sunday afternoon football. I could see trays of wings being prepped for spectators later in the day.

Diane and I grabbed two seats at the bar and ordered ourselves each a beer at $3.50 apiece. The bar has about a half-dozen beers on tap and all the bottles available on display. There’s no drink menu per se, but the bartenders are learned, willing to mix up any cocktail your heart may desire.

There’s one important thing you have to know about going to Pizza Villa’s bar: Bring along your cold, hard cash. There aren’t many places left that don’t accept plastic, but the staff at the bar wants to keep it simple. They give you a drink. You pay. Nothing to get confused about later on, and no credit cards left behind after a night of drinking.

Around the bar, flat-screen televisions are mounted so that all patrons can have a decent view. There are a few for those sitting at the bar, and a few more for those who would rather sit at tables.

If you couldn’t care less about sports on the tube, entertain yourself by checking out all the decor. Above the bar is a variety of old-fashioned tin cans. Along one wall are snapshots of patrons. On another wall is a series of license plates.

If your drinking gets you hungry, Pizza Villa has an extensive menu. Diane ordered a chicken parmesan sandwich; I had a chef’s salad.

We both ordered the “small” option for our meals, and were glad we did. The small isn’t quite so tiny. I could only imagine what a large chicken parm looks like.

Save your cash for the bar, because the food side of the establishment does accept other forms of payment. You’ve got to order your food at the counter and pay, and then the friendly staff will deliver your dish when it’s ready.

I thought it was pretty cool to see a pinball machine in one corner of the bar. Not many bars have pinball machines anymore. I can’t say I’m very good at coordinating the paddles with that little ball rolling downhill, but it sure is fun to try.

Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.