Yummy in Barstow
I see a few mentions of this place in Barstow but no real information, so I'll just post a mini-review.
We found ourselves in Barstow at dinnertime back from a couple days slogging around the desert. Wow that Mojave is draining. We were fried and looking for a place for dinner that we didn't hate. I hate chains. So at the circle-K I asked for a 'family style' restaurant, figuring that would maybe get some recommendation? I was wrong -- all the chains came pouring out and when I inquired after any family restaurants, as the clerk said, "run by a family"?, she said there weren't any.
So I was surprised to spot so close to the circle-K that upon exiting the place I had to do a U-turn to get back to it, an Italian restaurant called Di Napoli's Firehouse:
Di Napoli's Firehouse
1358 E Main St
Barstow, CA 92311
It was just what the doctor ordered; perfect. And so nice were the patrons that when we happened to arrive in a clump and held the door for two other parties -- they all told the hostess to take us first as we'd been there first! Let me tell you, when you're fried and the puppies are whining, that means a whole awful lot. Maybe it's not fair to credit the restaurant with that, but it's an ambience-thing, ya know? We evidently hit the place mysteriously empty as we were told usually there was a line to get in.
What I want most to rave about was the ziti I ordered. I asked the waitress for her suggestion and she said it was very popular. The sauce was delicious and included any number of veggies which always makes me happy: onions, broccoli, carrots, olives, zukes, muchrooms -- all actually crunchy and cut up into properly bite-sized pieces for a change. The mushrooms had obviously been added for baking purposes only because they weren't withered but still plump and very tasty. Such a surprise! Plus tons of ricotta and parmesan and mozzarella -- like a good lasagna only better! I dunno, the waitress said the lasagna was popular as well and likely it was kinda similar. The only bad thing about the dish, from my standpoint but maybe not everyone's, was that I asked for it with a veggie sauce only and not meat, and what arrived had slices of pepperoni all around the bottom outside of the dish and I think the sauce had small chunks of hamburger in it as well. As I'm not a strict vegetarian and was in no mood to complain anyway, plus the pups are major pepperoni-hounds, I just passed it along. I'm guessing that ordering "without meat" got me no meatballs perhaps, but the rest of the dish the same? I dunno -- someone who cared about this would have to ask a lot of questions first!
Hubby and pups both had meatballs, Dad in the form of a sub and the kids on top of spaghetti. For some reasons the kids weren't happy with the meatballs but the suace and spaghetti seemed to pose no problems. No complaints from dh who polished off his huge meal wordlessly. Can't report in a more detailed fashion what irked the whelps, perhaps an unusual spice?
Salad was not huge and consisted of iceberg lettuce with tons of mozarella shredded a top, a large single palid but surprisingly tasty store-tomato and "croutons" from a package. Soup was thick NE-style but the pups sucked down a whole bowl happily so while it may not have been haute cuisine it made them majorly happy.
Decor is traditional kitschy-"Italian", which is fun for the kids to look around at while waiting...only there was practically no wait at all (another reason, under the circumstances, that the whole experience was so good).
While In specifics this may sound not terrific, overall the effect was sterling. I was so happy to have found anything that wasn't Sizzler perhaps my bar was very low. But it was reasonably priced, very friendly, I thought my dish was absolutely delicious and it was very fast. I highly recommend this place when you find yourself in Barstow. Clearly many local people agree!
I have eaten there on more than a half dozen occasions over the years when travelling from Northern Arizona to Central California and getting out of Arizona late in the day.I think your view of the restaurant is quite accurate. Have always found the service to be friendly and attentive and the food to be a notch or two better than I expected. It is not gourmet by any stretch but is far better than fast food and the overall selection of places in Barstow leaves a lot to be desired. I second your recomendation as it is a solid choice for travelling food in the middle of nowhere.