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Claro Market Rec's?

When I drop by Claro Market in Tustin, I go there to buy some pancetta or prosuitto. And, every so often, since I'm already there, I'll get a sandwich as well.

But, I'm wondering what else Claro Market sells that a chowhound should buy or try?

How well edited are the selections? I'm not familiar with a lot of the brands they carry. If CM carries it, does it mean that item is good or is it buyer be beware?

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  1. The brands they carry are a bit off of the mainstream but it is pretty good. Theres one in Arcadia as well... a teacher at my school says thats his family business... being a Claro of course

    1. if they have roasted pork on their hot bar, get 'em. but try their alpino salami, made with prosciutto, very lean and delicious.

      1. Their pizza dough is quite good; the breads are wonderful. They carry mascarpone at the cheapest prices I've seen retail in LA. If they have bresaola (dried beef), get some, but ask them to cut it as thinly as they can, then dress it with lemon juice, olive oil and Parmigiano.

        Their frozen sfogliatelle are pretty decent but you need to get someone besides the kids to tell you how to handle it when you get home; the hot bar is very tasty.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Sweet Italian Sausage!! My husband's Grandfather, (Very Italian, he worked in a "maccaroni" factory his whole life) from CT would cart back 5 lb bags becuase it was better than anything he could find on the east coast. They freeze really well...if you can keep your mits off of them. Also the cheese and parsley sausage, (spiral shape) is wonderful, simply grilled, pan fried and stuffed in a hot dog buns or fried and mixed in to scrambled eggs.

          1. re: bubbles4me

            Oh my yes!! The sausage in wonderful. This is the sausage we use in our sauces. When it comes time to grilling Italian sausage the it is Sabatino's all the way.

            1. re: cdmedici

              If you're ever in the northern end of Pasadena, and have a cooler with you (doesn't everybody?), do stop in at the Roma Market (NE corner N. Lake and Mountain, next light up from Orange Grove) and get some of theirs. The little short chunky guy has been making it for over fifty years, and he has it pretty well figured out by now. At least I like it about a notch better than Claro's, and it's a bit cheaper. Get some of his melt-in-your-mouth imported mortadella, too.

              1. re: Will Owen

                Both pancetta and proscuitto are better at Roma Market as well.

                I do like Claro's sausages better. I also like their sugar free pine nut cookies.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  I heard that the owner/short guy at the counter passed away. I haven't been at Roma in awhile. Love their proscuitto! Does anyone have the scoop?

                  1. re: SGV Gal

                    Ross is at Roma. He hasn't been well,and he's in his '80s I think, but he's still at the store 14 hours a day, still plumping for the Sicilian pecorino. The sausages are as grand as ever. When you're paying for your purchases, don't forget to get some of the basil hidden under the counter by the cash register. It is even more fragrant than the best stuff at the farmers markets.

                2. re: cdmedici

                  You're saying (I assume) that Sabatino's sausages are better than Claro's?

                  1. re: josephnl

                    That would be a true statement. Not that Claro's sausages are at all bad, but... ohhhh... Sabatino's... on a wood fire.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Have you tried the Lake Forest Sabatino's?

            2. The pizelles, esp. when they are baked fresh.

              1. I used to go to the one on Whittier Blvd to buy cracked wheat to make bulgar pilaf or tabouleh.

                1. It's one of the few places that carries salt packed anchovies. It's in a glass jar on top of the deli case.

                  If you're into yerba mate, they carry a couple different of Argentinian brands. Not the Americanized tea bag style but big ol' bags of leaves and twigs.

                  The breads, when fresh, are quite good.

                  Regarding the "edit" question, I'm a little skeptical of their buying choices. They tend to like importing stuff like cheese and cured meats from the East coast, when fresher (often better) stuff is available from California. Mozzarella cheese for example. Why they don't carry Gioia (South El Monte), Cantare (San Diego), or Mozzarella Fresca (Concord) instead of the stuff from Italy is beyond me.

                  They only seem to have one meh Italian brand and one meh American brand of prosciutto. There are tons of top notch prosciutto producers in Parma and San Daniele, and why they don't choose more selectively from them baffles me.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: Professor Salt

                    Where do you go for your Italian products in OC? Roma Market in Pasadena is a bit too far to buy groceries during lunch.

                    1. re: hobbess

                      Well, besides the Claro's in Tustin there's Cortina's in Anaheim, but the selection is anaemic.

                      1. re: hobbess

                        Like DU said, there are other Italian markets in OC, but they mostly make Claro's look good in comparison, e.g. Cortina Market in Huntington Beach.

                        For someone like me that grew up in an Italian New York neighborhood it's a really anemic choice between the old school Italian markets vs. the expensive gourmet supermarkets. For the most part, our local independents seem to think they can get by with the same goods they sold in 1978.

                        If I want salumi, I'll tend to hit Gelson's or Whole Foods. If I want burrata and I'm not near the Gioia factory, I buy that brand at Bristol Farms. DU mentioned that most Gelson's carry Gioia burrata. Just saw last week that Whole Foods Tustin carries the Cantare burrata.

                        Oh I forgot Angelo's Deli in Belmont Shore. Mattapoisset in LA showed me the place. It's a closet sized store with an intriguing deli case. This is one of those independents that's stepping up their food offerings, despite their tiny size. Angelo's is a real neighborhood market, not what I'd call a destination market like Dean & Deluca will be when it opens in Fashion Island mall next year.

                        -----
                        Angelo's
                        190 La Verne Ave, Long Beach, CA 90803

                        1. re: Professor Salt

                          Just a note. I returned to the Gelsons du M├ępris in Calabasas and noticed that the bakery had better bread; the vegetables looked better (still expensive) and the olives had been rectified... and I looked and there were tubs of Cantare burrata, which I bought and which I am now eating with homemade pane carasau and roasted garlic paste.

                          Also, funny story from the bakery section:

                          Me: "Is there a Reform temple in Calabasas?"
                          Lady: "Yes, Congregation Or Ami. How did you know I was Reform?"
                          Me: "Conservative Jews don't buy their challah pre-sliced."

                          1. re: Professor Salt

                            I checked the Irvine Gelson's, and it doesn't carry Gioia burrata. Instead, they carried Cantare but it didn't look that fresh.

                            1. re: hobbess

                              I appreciate the followup, hobbess.

                              Recently went to the Gioia factory to buy burrata, and they confirmed that Gelson's is not a customer. Guess I'll have to hoof it over to Bristol Farms if I need to buy it locally.

                            2. re: Professor Salt

                              Another place for salumi that carries proscutto from Parma would be Lucca Cafe in Irvine (Sand Canyon south of the 5 in Quail Hill). Chef Kathy also carries some of Batali's dad's salumi which tends to be very creative and amazing beyond belief. Selection changes constantly but they have a walk up counter for cheeses and meats that rivals some of the best.

                          2. re: Professor Salt

                            I dropped by Claro's to buy some capers stored in salt instead of vinegar, but they don't sell those either. But, I did notice that they do sell buffalo mozzarella from northern California with an italian name but don't know the quality of this product.

                            1. re: hobbess

                              Bubalus bubalis?

                              They must have been out -- I know I've bought salt-packed capers there before (in Tustin and in San Gabriel/Rosemead). Which branch were you at?

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                I was at the Tustin branch. And, when I asked if they sold salt-packed capers, their response was what you saw on the shelves was what they sold. Maybe, this branch used to sell them but doesn't carry them anymore? I know Claro's used to sell dinged, rusty salt-packed anchoives in tin cans but now doesn't sell them anymore.

                                I think that may have been the name, but I'm not exactly sure. If it is, is that something to avoid? Without tasting it, I would think that it should be good since it should still be fresh if its from NoCal combined with the turnover for a product like that at Claro's. By the way, have you tried Trader Joe's mozzarella. I'm going to buy some tomatoes and basil from the Irvine Farmer's Market this Saturday to eat with the mozzarella, and TJ is practically next door.

                                1. re: hobbess

                                  I buy tomatoes and basil from the Irvine CFM and go to that TJ's all the time. The mozzarella isn't going to win any awards but it's perfectly edible -- needs a hit of salt (as do the tomatoes, anyway). Ovoline are better than bocconcini. Bubalus bubalis is fine but not usually worth the awful price they charge.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    Are we talking about the fresh(ish) for slicing mozzarella? I agree it wants a bit of salt to wake it up, but rather than monkey with the caprese number I just chunked some up into a salade de tomates with some olive oil and a dash of vinegar plus S&P, and It Was Good.

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      Thx, Das Ubergeek. We've probably passed by each other at the Irvine FM like two ships in the night.

                                      Which farmer do you go for your tomatoes at the Irvine FM?

                                      1. re: hobbess

                                        I'm absolutely horrible at the names -- so as you enter from the Godawful Indian Restaurant, turn left at the first "alley" and go halfway or a little less down. It's on the left, usually across and a little down from Lily's Overpriced Eggs.

                            2. Claro's-made garlic sausage is wonderful, though only made fresh on Thursday I believe...other days you must buy it frozen in 1# packages.

                              The proscuitto poppers are a salty/savory treat. A bit expensive, but worth it IMO. You'll find these at the deli counter.

                              There are often made in store pizza slices at the hot counter, which are good and filling, though there is better out there elsewhere. Theirs reminds me of something your aunt/grandma/mom made at home...authentic.

                              1. It is good to be able to get salt-packed anchovies, as mentioned. Deli meat and cheese are at least very good condition if not cutting-edge, something that is often decidedly not so at Bristol Farms, and its ilk -- probably largely a function of turnover. Even Stella blue cheese or gorgonzola, cut fresh from the wheel, is very good compared to yellowing prepacked imported. Black oil-cured olives in the refrigerator case with pizza dough are very good. I've wondered as well about the underrepresentation of California purveyors, have though maybe it's due to longtime relationships with suppliers or something.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Allmodcons

                                  Last time I went to Claro, I wanted some salt-packed anchovies in some tin jars to keep in the pantry but all they had were the salt-packed anchovies in that big jar on top of the deli.

                                  I bought some, and popped them in the fridge and keep on forgetting to use them. How long can they last in the fridge? Although, I have to wonder how long they were in that deli jar. When I asked the deli person about some anchovies, they had no idea what I was talking about.

                                  1. re: hobbess

                                    I don't know how long they'll last in the fridge; last batch I had I treated as though they were immortal (right up to the eating part, that is), and they lasted the better part of a year. That's AFTER they were opened. I kept waiting for signs of deterioration, but aside from the last of them being half-dissolved into oily, salty goo, the taste was as fresh and fishy-sharp as ever.

                                    I think as long as the jar's kept cold and not opened, a century or so might not be too much to expect ;-)

                                2. Their sweet Italian sausage is the BEST. You can buy it by the link or I think they have a 3 or 5 lb bag. If you like Italian cookies, they have a wonderful variety and are very good, too. I have the recipe for their Italian dressing if you'd like it.

                                  1. just nots -
                                    bubalus bubalis isn't frmo northern california. the water buffaloes are in Chino. The cheese is made in Gardena.

                                    At claro;'s you can buy chestnut flour. You use it to make castagnaccio - you dissolve the flour in water and a bit of oil - but on some rosemary (optional) and bake. Any good recipe will give you the proportions. You eat it with a roast or with chicken or whatever- think italian chestnut kugel.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Jerome

                                      But, when you go to their website, it says "fresh from our farm in northern california, delivered to your door."

                                      1. re: hobbess

                                        http://www.realmozzarella.com/contact...
                                        they are in gardena. apparently, the farm is now in bangor, california.
                                        apparently at one time (maybe still) it operated a farm in chino
                                        http://articles.latimes.com/2003/sep/...

                                        1. re: Jerome

                                          Which reminds me -- technically the Trader Joe's product is fior di latte, not mozzarella di bufala.

                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                            in re price of bubalus -
                                            costco sometimes carries it - very reasonably priced.

                                    2. Are the whole pickles at Claro from A-1? I was too lazy to ask.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: TonyC

                                        Brain teaser for a Monday AM.

                                        What's harder -

                                        Asking a counter person where they are sourcing their ingredients OR finding Wi-Fi, whipping out some laptop/tablet/mobile device, logging on to Chowhound, digging up a post that's some 4 years in the incubator, and posting the same question?

                                        (I think someone has been attending the kevin school of Chowhounding ...)