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Phoenix Mini-review: Calabria Italian Grocery & Deli

silverbear May 24, 2007 10:21 PM

Located in the historic Gold Spot building just three blocks west of the intersection of Roosevelt and Central Avenue, Calabria Italian Grocery & Deli offers a deli counter with made-to-order sandwiches and a few pasta dishes and salads. As the name suggests, the deli specializes in food from the Calabria region of southern Italy. The food is hearty and emphasizes cured meats, cheeses, tomatoes, and eggplant. The sandwiches, which are made from 12" baguettes, ressemble those found in the better Italian-American delis on the East Coast. Recently popularized breads from other regions of Italy are not offered, so sandwiches made with ciabatta or focaccia should not be expected. Still, the baguettes at Calabria are so good that trendier breads are unlikely to be missed.

Most of the sandwiches incorporate salumi of various types or chicken, but Calabria also does marvelous things with eggplant, producing both an eggplant parmigiana sandwich and a stuffed eggplant sandwich. All sandwiches can be dressed with toppings that include mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pepperoncini, pickles, onion, salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, and oregano. The one drawback to lunch at Calabria is that the sandwiches are quite large and filling. A half sandwich combined with a small green salad, an option not currently on Calabria's menu, would be a nice choice for those with lighter appetites.

In addition to serving lunch Monday through Saturday, Calabria functions as a small speciality grocer. Customers can buy meats, olives, sun dried tomatoes, and other items at the deli counter. A small cluster of shelves on the other side of the seating area provides a selection of pastas, beans, spices, and other dry goods. Calabria also offers a catering menu with various deli trays, hot entrees, and appetizers available in quantity with sufficient advance notice. The deli, which is run by a sister and brother team, has been a part of the restoration of the historic Roosevelt neighborhood and draws a steady crowd for lunch.

1001 N 3rd Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85003
(602) 271-7000

Map: http://tinyurl.com/2e4vey

Note: Free parking is availabe in a garage behind the restaurant.

More mini-reviews and photos at PHX Rail Food: http://phxrailfood.blogspot.com

  1. Seth Chadwick May 24, 2007 10:45 PM


    Great review and a nod to a place that I remember passing here and there and knew nothing about. I am determined not to let the LR construction keep me down! That's not too far from my office, so I may have to venture there soonly.

    1. misohungrychewlow May 24, 2007 10:48 PM

      silver, if I haven't written about this place I should have -- I've mentioned it in passing on occasion. It's near work and a treasured lunch option for what you've described -- savory Italian-American sandwiches with a personal touch. I guess I eat too much -- the standard sub fits the bill perfectly! They offer a righteous meatball wedge but the torpedoes topping the list feature a delicate chicken cutlet combined with either proscuitto or fresh mozzarela. The stuffed eggplant number is superb! (drool ...). Since opening a few years ago, they've evolved -- the grocery section is mostly gone, but they still have a fine selection of cheeses and meats in the deli case. They have expanded their daily selections of pasta/red sauce dishes, and the 2-3 I've had were good. I don't know if they do the rice balls or the little calzones any more. There's ample parking in case some of you may be reluctant to venture downtown ... and they feature coffee, which I haven't sampled. They seem to be good people, a family place, from east Boston ... I hope they make it. I wish they were busier. I humbly submit that Calabria, along with Pino's and Pane Bianco, offer the best sandwiches in central Phoenix -- any other is a distant fourth,

      4 Replies
      1. re: misohungrychewlow
        silverbear May 25, 2007 06:30 AM

        I think it was an endorsement of Calabria by you in another thread that convinced me to look into this place. The rice balls are still available, but I don't remember seeing a calzone. They seemed to be doing a decent volume of business both times I visited, so I'm guardedly optimistic.

        1. re: silverbear
          ciaogal May 25, 2007 06:33 AM

          Can't wait to try this place......I used to work in East Boston!
          I miss all the wonderful Italian neighborhood fare.....

          1. re: ciaogal
            azhotdish May 25, 2007 09:06 AM

            Hey ciaogal - do you know anything about the Vermont Sandwich Company (I think that's the name) near Andreoli Grocer on 90th/Via Linda? I saw that a few weeks ago when I was over there and made a mental note to check it out.

            1. re: azhotdish
              ciaogal May 25, 2007 09:19 AM

              azhotdish....I keep getting coupons for that place...but have not been yet.
              the menu looks pretty good.

              another place on my list to try......

              Let me know if you make it there first!

      2. yamalam May 25, 2007 09:20 PM

        My favorite meatball sub in the valley! The Italian Cold-Cut one (I forget its exact name) is also excellent.

        1. mamamia Jul 15, 2007 02:00 PM

          I headed over to Calabria with my older daughter and another family for lunch yesterday.

          I had a late breakfast, so I ordered the arancini(rice ball) for $4.95. It was very nice, with just the right amount of crunch on the outside and gooey cheese on the inside.

          It's such a quiet little spot, but it gets steady traffic, which is nice.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mamamia
            silverbear Jul 15, 2007 02:58 PM

            Glad it was a good experience. Adding the place:

            Calabria Italian Grocery & Deli
            1001 N 3rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003

          2. d
            DJ RedThirteen Aug 2, 2012 05:18 PM

            I've heard lots of good things about Calabria, so I was anxious to see the extent of their offerings; however, the website address on AzCentral (www.calabriadeli.com) led me to a site in Japanese?? I am sure this is a misprint, but luckily, I live in Downtown Phoenix, just minutes from the deli and plan to visit soon to partake myself; my son, Vinny, will bug me to get him capicola, so I'm sure it will be a visit made as soon as humanly possible. ;)

            1 Reply
            1. re: DJ RedThirteen
              exit2lef Aug 2, 2012 08:43 PM

              I wrote that review five years ago under my old user name of "silverbear." Calabria is long gone. The deli moved from Roosevelt to 7th Street and never seemed to thrive at the new location. It went out of business last year.

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