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PHX - Gilbert - La Calabria Ristorante

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My wife had heard that this new Italian restaurant was open in the Gilbert area so we decided to try it out. The owner Giovanni is very friendly. He grew up in the Calabria region of Italy.

We are so glad that we tried it out. The food is excellent!
The pasta is actually cooked and served al dente!!!

The restaurant details are below:

La Calabria Ristorante
1534 E Ray Road, Gilbert, AZ 85296
Phone: (480) 726-3537

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  1. Thanks for the review. I saw the ribbon cutting in the Gilbert news so by your review my husband and i thought we would try it. The food is fantastic, service attentive and both owners work there and are very friendly. I had the homemade al dente Shrimp Fettucini Calabria and it was wonderful. La Calabria was also on Good Afternoon Az and you can get some info on their website.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bal2610

      Wow...That is not the place I went to...The atmosphere is the worse...Too much, light and noice...There are only tables...The food for the price is below average...I thought my dish was from a microwave meal... Good service, but the food and atmosphere refect the corner street mall that it is in

      1. re: dingogringo

        Restaurant is amazing! You are certainly NOT Italian. They cook like you are at home in your livingroom. If you like dark (so you can't see your food and what they are hiding) go to Scottsdale. Food is cooked fresh to order and if you don't appreciate the fact there is a window so you can see the clean prep of your meal you are completely clueless.

    2. Adding place link.....

      -----
      La Calabria Ristorante
      1534 E Ray Rd Ste 110, Gilbert, AZ 85296

      1. La Calabria Ristorante really does having amazing food. The owners were so friendly and came out a number of times to talk to the customers.There is a great family feel right when you walk in. I had the Cheese Ravioli which was fantastic and the homemade cheesecake for dessert. I found a link to their blog at lacalabria.wordpress.com. I highly reccomend La Calabria Ristorante!

        1. Lill and I went to La Calabria on Sat night and really loved it. The owners, Clara and Giovanni, are both really pleasant to talk with. Clara runs the front of the house and even though she's from Lawn Guyland, this former Bostonian found her very friendly. 8-)Giovanni is the head chef and tossed out some great plates.
          We started with stuffed fungi that were filled with a parmesan/sausage stuffing, sitting on some veal (I think) jus. Really yum.
          Lill had butternut squash raviolli with a butter sage sauce. While it sounds typical, the flavors were anything but. The squash was not at all overspiced letting the full flavor of the squash shine through. The irregularly cut pasta squares were fresh as can be and cooked perfectly.
          I had the osso buco and was equally happy. The veal shank was meaty and cooked to the point where it was tender but not falling apart. It sat on top of saffrony risotto (nicely cooked) and topped with a red sauce. I thought it could use some gremolata to give the dish a bit more acidic lift but my plate was empty.
          Giovanni brought us out a pair of complimentary choc covered strawberries on whipped cream which was an unexpected surprise.
          Clara makes the Italian (ricotta) cheesecake. Giovanni makes the tiramisu. We had both in full gluttonous fashion. The cheesecake was light and lemony and topped with a bright strawberry puree. I appreciated the unadulterated berry flavor compared to the jelly like substance on top of many a cheesecake. The tiramisu was passable but not as good as the cheesecake.

          The wine list is short but decently designed and affordable. With the exception of an $80 bottle of nero d'avola/cab sauv blend, the rest of the list was priced at $34 and below. There is a prosecco, a brachetto d'acqui, 3 whites (2 chards, 1 pinot grigio) and 6(?) reds ranging from north to south. A barbera from Piedmont, a couple of chianti from Tuscany, and a few nero d'avola and blends from the south.
          We had the 2007 Fontanafredda Barbera Briccotondo that tasted like a cinnamon dusted milk chocolate truffle. I'm not a big fan of chocolate tones in italian wines but others may love it (Wine Spec just gave this wine 90pts fwiw). At 2x retail ($30 on the restaurant list) it doesnt blow the budget.

          We saw families, groups of various sizes and ages, and couples on a date all enjoying the company of Clara as she stopped by or Giovanni as he popped out of the kitchen. Our waiter was really nice to talk with as well and the bussers were efficient and non-intrusive.
          Overall, we highly recommend La Calabria and we plan on going back often.

          Thanks for the tip, Stu

          Bill.

          1. So here is another thumbs up for La Calabria. Good food and service like others have mentioned - but I want to toss in that this is also a good value for the quality! Most chain restaurants have had to raise their prices and when you compare the quality of chains to La Calabria - the nod is hands down in their favor. I had the La Calabria pasta which I am pretty certain was $12.95. Huge bowl! Left really satisifed and had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. Everyone's budgets are getting tighter - so if you're going to dine out and you have a hankering for Italian - give them a try.

            Bz

            1. OK these posts are getting my attention. We're going ot have to try this place. Does anyone know if they make a white wine version of spaghetti with clams and if so, how is it?

              4 Replies
              1. re: ziggylu

                Ziggy, I have the menu here and it says they make a linguine vongole with either red or white sauce ($13.95). I'm not a clam sauce fan so I can't help you on quality.

                Bz, good point on the value. The pasta dishes are $11-13 and are really sizeable portions. And yes, the fettucine la Calabria was $12.95.

                1. re: BillB656

                  Thanks, Bill. We're going to have to try this next time we go out. I love linguine vongole in white sauce(assuming no cream) so will have to go try their version. Will post an update here when we do get there.

                2. re: ziggylu

                  You really need to try it!

                  1. re: ziggylu

                    La Calabria does make a white wine version of spaghetti with clams that is excellent and it is made with fresh clams. You should really check it out!

                  2. I am so glad that I have found this restaurant. La Calabria Ristorante is the best Italian food in Gilbert, Arizona by far!! I have been to Italy and travel to New York often and it is definitely a pleasure to finally have really good Italian food in Arizona and at great prices as well. I usually take my family about once a week and we love that it is child friendly. My kids get the pasta and meat balls with desert--they love it. The Chef is from Italy and is really a good cook, and actually takes the time to come out and see how we like things. Here are some of our favorites: The pasta fagioli soup is homemade and is fantastic. I have had the pastas, which are cooked perfectly.. my favorite is the linguini with seafood and you can order it spicy as well (just like in Calabria). The veal dishes are also excellent. Overall the food is excellent, the portions are large, and the prices are very reasonable...that is why we come back every week for a family dinner.

                    1. So we went back for a mid week dinner last night. This time we ordered off the menu instead of having the specials and we were not disappointed at all.

                      We started with the zucchini sticks which about the width of a Sharpie and about 3" long. They had a nice crunch, very clean oil, and really good squash flavor. Nice.

                      Lill had the meat tortellini in cream sauce. The large plateful of pasta had a nice chewy texture and flavorful filling. The sauce was wonderful. It's a rich besciamella with a deep streak of proscuitto running through it. Yum.

                      I had the cannelloni di carne, two rolled sheets of thicker pasta filled with a meat, ricotta, spinach stuffing, all topped with a chunky tomato sauce and a bit of mozzarella. More yum. This is food with love, man.

                      Neither of us came close to finishing our plates and there was more than enough for our lunches today.

                      This was only our second time in but Clara and Giovanni treated us like family. Big hugs and handshakes all around and quite a few laughs.

                      ******
                      (disclaimer: we were surprised with a chefs treat order of bruschetta. The topping was extremely vibrant , nicely seasoned, chopped tomato with a whisper of garlic. good stuff!)

                      1. We made it here last night and can only echo what everyone above has said. This is darn good Italian food and the owners every bit as warm and welcoming as everyone claims.

                        After a long day car shopping(ick!), we were tired, cranky, and hungry and wanted nothing to do with cooking so we picked up a friend of ours that lives nearby and tried out La Calabria. It was early when we got there at 5:30(really we were starving and decided to just go for an early dinner) and were the only ones there.

                        We started with the calamari. This was really nice. Very light and tender, not glommy at all.

                        All pastas are served with a house salad with a balasamic vinaigrette. A basic salad but the addition of radishes, cucumbers, and olives is a nice touch. Personaly, not being a big salad eater but loving soup, I wish they offered a small cup of minestrone as an option but really that's a small quibble, especially considering what a value this place represents.

                        My husband had the canneloni described above. And loved it. Girlfriend had the squash ravioli. This was also very nice. I had the linguine vongole(of course!) and loved mine...ate the whole darn thing even though the portion was more than generous.

                        We finished splitting a tiramisu which was very good as well. Will have to try the ricotta cheesecake next time, only had room to try one and were stuffed at the end. This was quite a feast we had!

                        With two glasses of wine, two sodas, and two espressos included with our food our bill came to $81. Really, this places represents some of the best value in the Valley for the quality of the food.

                        We left around 7:30 and they were just sitting a large party but otherwise the dining room was very quiet last nigh with just a few tables other than ours. Tough time to open a new restaurant and I hope they make it...we'll be going back again soon to help make that happen but if you live in the East Valley and are thinking about dining out soon do give this place a try.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ziggylu

                          I'm glad to hear (but not surprised) that you enjoyed your dinner, ziggy. Good suggestion about a cup of soup, particularly as the cooler weather is coming in. I'd vote for pasta fagioli (or pasta fazoo as Papa always called it).

                        2. We stumbled across this little Gem after someone said we MUST go there...
                          I am used to good Italian food from small family owned restaurants, which are hard to find. You haven't had REAL Italian in Arizona, until you've been here!!!

                          1. La Calabria just got a nice write up in the East Valley Tribune. Below is link:

                            http://thedish.freedomblogging.com/20...

                            We ate there again tonight and the food was excellent.

                            1. My wife and I were disappointed with our meal at La Calabria. The people were friendly and the service was good, but we felt that the food was uniformly bland. We tried five courses and only liked the tiramisu, which was simple and fine. Portions are large, and there seems to be an emphasis on quantity over quality. It didn’t help that it was a cold night and the serving plates were also cold. I’d written descriptions of each dish but ended up being more negative than intended (but do avoid the tortellini in cream sauce). The people next to us liked the butternut squash ravioli.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Hombre

                                Please, please, please do not consider/take this in the wrong way. I am just curious. What Italian restaurants do you think are better? Just wondering.

                                1. re: StuCazzo

                                  You mean to ask, do I consider Olive Garden the ultimate expression of Italian cuisine? Actually, we were hoping that La Calabria would surpass the local chain restaurants, but I don't think it manages even that. My wife and I recently had a very good meal Dahl and Deluca in Sedona, and we couldn't help comparing the experiences. The funghi al chianti at D&D are so good we've tried to replicate them at home. At La Calbria we each ate one of the stuffed mushrooms and passed on the rest.

                                  Again, the food was just bland, and in the case of the tortellini, really awful (a vast amount of tasteless factory-made tortellini in a dense, pasty, unseasoned white sauce). There was nothing genuine or Italian about that dish except the name on the menu. Sorry to be so negative when clearly other people have had good experiences, but this was our experience.

                                  1. re: Hombre

                                    I have to admit I am surprised by this as well. I was in New York for quite a while and also have been to Italy, and grew up in San Francisco...and I have to say La Calabria has very good food. We eat there regularly and I cant think of a meal that we didnt enjoy. His soups are homemade and fantastic (the pasta fagioli, and the Italian wedding soup). I really liked the stuffed veal and the chicken marsala, and he had a chilean sea bass that is fantastic. Most red sauce pastas and dishes you can get anywhere, and his are better than than other restaurants as well, but I have to admit I go for the other dishes that you just dont find anywhere (they dont serve alfredo or chicken parmesan in Italy). It is the best Italian Food in Arizona

                                    1. re: BigGreg

                                      I'll try it again. It was early in the evening and could have been an off night. And the tortellini in cream sauce was probably asking for trouble since they do not make this in house. BTW, I have also travelled in Italy, lived in New York (and Bangkok and Tokyo), and like to make my own fresh pasta -- not that any of this makes me an expert on anything. I just think the meal we had there was perfunctory.

                                    2. re: Hombre

                                      Hombre, if you like Dahl and Deluca (as I do), do try La Stalla in downtown Chandler. Owned by the same people, really excellent food - we especially like the pizza's (closest I've had to what I ate in Italy) and the pasta's. the tortellini is very good, and the carbonara is wonderful. About the only thing I can't recommend is the clams with white sauce, as the sauce was thin and weak, but it may have been an off night. There were an abundance of clams. Try it.

                                  2. re: Hombre

                                    You are spot on with your asessment of this restaurant Hombre. Started out with the calamari accompanied by the most uninspired dipping sauce I have ever tasted. This poor excuse for marinara was nothing but tomatoes with a few tomatoes. The calamari itself was totally tasteless save for the flavor of the virtually unseasoned crust. The same bland marinera covered my lasagna and my wife's side dish of very commercial penne pasta. The blue cheese dressing was likewise uninspired and very commercial tasting. I found the food to be average at best. The staff seemed to be genuinely interested in our experience and the chef visited our table as well as many others while we were there to ask our impression. It did not really seem as though he cared about hearing anything but positive comments though. I will not be returning.

                                  3. What a fine Italian Ristorante !! Thank goodness that Paul and Rachel introduced us to this gem !! Location is a bit off the beaten path - might be a good thing for them.... else they would have lines outside the door :-)

                                    Don't expect to sit down and have your food in minutes like an Olive Garden. We're talking about food cooked exactly to your liking. Fresh ! al dente ! And you can take a look through the huge window into the kitchen to watch how it's being prepared.

                                    Clara and Giovanni, owners, are real gems. They have a genuine interest in your dining experience and will come to your table to be sure everything is just right for you.

                                    The menu is all encompassing ... my first visit was a group of 10. We all ordered different items - some from the menu - some from the "specials". Not a disappointed person in the crowd.
                                    Calamari appetizer to die for !
                                    You'll have to see the rest of the menu for yourself.
                                    Don't see what you want on the menu? Just ask !
                                    Then top it off with a lift me up tiramisu and a custom made espresso.

                                    What a great place !!!

                                    1. Yes, tell all your friends about La Calabria! They have wonderful food, the atmosphere is nice, the owners are friendly, and you will NOT be disappointed. It's tucked away on th NW corner of Val Vista & Ray. I really hope they stay busy enough to keep their doors open (so, again, tell all your friends and family)! The east valley needs more great places like this. Thanks Tony, Mike & Dora for telling us about La Calabria.

                                      1. Thanks for the review. This place is great. As mentioned, Clara is very friendly and it was nice to have Giovanni stop to say hello. My wife and I both enjoyed the bruschetta appetizer which was line an Italian Salsa on a perfectly toasted piece of Italian bread. She had the Canneloni di Carni. The pasta roll was excellent, cooked just right and filled with a delicious yet light meat filling with spinach and ricotta. I had Veal Scalappini Sorentino. The prosciutto added just the right amount of flavor yet was thin enough not to be chewy and the veal was tender. The sauce was also great. We also enjoyed Clara's cheesecake. The Nero D'avalon/Shiraz blend wine we ordered was a cery nice match and opened throughout the dinner. All in all, a great find and we will be back.

                                        1. Did La Calabria in Gilbert close???

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: StuCazzo

                                            La Calabria is still open (except Mondays, when its always been closed)

                                          2. I literally live right behind there. Used to eat there when it was Mei Xang...yummy Chinese. Thanx for the info...we'll try it soon!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: tattud_gurl

                                              OMG We loved Mei Xang.......best Chinese in AZ IMO, I miss that

                                            2. I hear they are struggling. Business has been very slow after x mas, and when I was there on a friday night we were one of three parties.