Liberty Market (Gilbert, AZ)
The Liberty Market opened in Gilbert this week. We went there for dinner tonight. Great food and atmosphere! I have a wood fired pizza. Perfect! For dessert I enjoyed a homemade Rice Krispie treat. Great place! Joe has another palce to add to his success.
Joe's does serve wine and beer -- about a dozen each beers and wines and two dozen bottles of wine. Wines by the glass are $6-10, with most $6 to $8. Nice selection -- a couple Italians, some South Americans, a very nice New Zealand sauv blanc, some rich Cali cabs.
Joe has really outdone himself here -- I absolutely love the ambience and can't wait to go back. I had the "Liberty Joe," which is the best sloppy Joe ever (get it extra hot and extra sloppy). I wasn't crazy about the cole slaw on the side, but chalk it up to personal preference -- I like mine with less mayo and more vinegar.
I also a mint mocha that blew me away. Joe has this vintage Italian espresso machine called the E61 that was restored for him. It looks like part of a motorcycle, and he has a veritable shrine to it in the front corner of the place. Rightly so, once you taste the stuff it makes. He also makes his own syrups.
As for parking, you can park in the old Grain Belt GH lot or behind it at the Hale Theater Center. The entrance is on the side.
We went with another family to the Liberty Market for lunch.
We started out with a hummus plate. Hummus is made from mashed chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic. From the taste of our plate, Joe's is made just from chickpeas. No taste WHATSOEVER. Not even a hint of garlic or lemon. Is this the Gilbertized version :) And to further add insult, they served it with some type of toasted bread that had no taste either. Where’s the pita bread that should be served with the hummus? If they are going to serve it with this toasted bread, they need to, at least, brush it with olive oil and garlic.
Next up we ordered lunch. My wife had the caprese sandwich. The caprese is a traditional Italian sandwich made out of mozzarella, tomato, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. My wife really enjoyed her sandwich. I tried the side of potato salad that came with it and was impressed with the taste.
Our friend ordered the Liberty Bowl. This bowl included roasted meatballs, marinara sauce, pecorino romano, and a side of grilled bread. She let my wife and I try a bite and we really liked the taste of the meatballs.
The kids all ordered the wood-fired pizzas. My son ordered the pepperoni and the others got cheese pizzas. They were pretty good size for an individual order. I’m guessing they are getting used to their oven or they have a new, inexperienced pizzaiolo back in the kitchen. The outer crust of one of the cheese pizzas was burned black. I had to do some fancy talking to get my kid to eat the non-burned parts. The other 2 kids liked their cheese pizza. The pepperoni pizza ordered by my other son was NOT pepperoni, but salami. To me, it was good, but to an 8 year old kid it tasted terrible. He did manage to pick off the salami (complaining the entire time about how bad it tasted). If you advertise it as pepperoni, serve it with pepperoni, not salami!
I ordered a margherita pizza and was very disappointed. Where do I start? The crust was soggy. Their margherita pizza is made from mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil. My eyes saw basil on the pizza, but my taste buds did not taste ANY basil flavor. They definitely did not use fresh basil on this pizza. The best thing I could say about the sauce was that it was red. No taste to it. The cheese was there (in abundance), but by the taste of it they don’t use a good quality mozzarella. I’m guessing Kraft? I basically had a cheese pizza for lunch. Gilbert Pizza down the road has nothing to worry about!
I had heard about their espresso bar so I went up and ordered a single espresso shot. The girl at the bar got good marks for pronouncing espresso correctly (no “ex” in espresso) and serving it in a proper cup. That’s about it. Either she did not use enough coffee to make the shot or they use cheap coffee, but I had a watered down shot of espresso.
All in all, it was not too bad. We would rate the food so-so. The sandwich and meatball bowl plate got good marks. The pizzas and espresso bar need work though. They just opened for business, so I might give them one more shot. On the plus side, their service was top notch. The wait staff was very attentive.
My wife and I had a very nice lunch on Friday. I had the Italia panini (Molinari salumi, roasted red peppers, some field greens, provolone) that was nicely grilled and full of flavor. My side of sweet potato w/pecans and dried cranberry was a brightly flavored accompaniment. My wife had the Farmer panini (zucc, portobello, goat cheese, red pepper and liked it as well. She really could taste all the ingredients (after giving it a hit of salt). She had the Caprese pasta salad as a side and although the portion was quite small (I thought) it was very fresh in flavor (and was plenty for her). After lunch we had a couple Cafe Cubano that wasn't quite South Beach but pretty good.
We're looking forward to going back when they have the menu filled out (in about a month according to one of the staff) particularly the cheese plate options as we haven't found many places in Gilbert/Chandler that have decent cheeses and wine (although the wine labels are fairly predictable).
Have been there twice for lunch and coffee. Had a great veggie panino- I think it was the Farmer's (so good with goat cheese), with a side of roasted green beans, which were great, served cold with olive oil and shaved lemon zest.
This morning I tried the pumpkin apple bread (yum) and a Cafe au Lait. I am a sucker for easing into the morning with a creamy Cafe au Lait in a giant wide mouthed mug, and this one did not disappoint.
Their coffee menu features a few different mixed espresso drinks- a Vietnamese style with condensed milk, a Cafe Cubano like BillB mentioned, something else with frothed half and half, thought that was a fun way to explore coffee without relying on sugar and syrups a la Starbucks. Prices are cheaper than Starbucks too- my giganto drink was $2.50 I believe.
I'll definitely go back to sit at the coffee bar and read the paper, stop by for a weekday lunch, happy hour glass of wine or a brunch with the girls - I really like the atmosphere, and the food was well done, with quality ingredients for a pretty good value.
Also, they said the menu should be filled out by next week, the biggest gap I saw was a lack of soups, even in its incomplete state the current menu has a ton of delicious looking options.
Is this place worth a trip from Central Phoenix or further? Probably not, but if you're already in the East Valley, it's worth a stop, or put it on the list to try next time you're out here.
My husband and I went out for our second weekly lunch in a row this week at liberty market. we bypassed gilbert pizza yet again - we have been dying to try it - to visit joe and the crew again! we got there for a bit of a late lunch, but we were again suprised! the food never ceases to amaze, and the staff was attentive and wonderful, and hard-working. we did have to get our own drink refills a couple times, so were not quite sure if the staff is supposed to refill it or not. we didnt mind though, as it was busy. our only two complaints were that the sweet potato salad was too sweet - but trial and error! the ambieance and music were enjoyable, and the only thing we noticed - as former restaurant managers ourselves before going into ministry fulltime - was the manager interactions with the staff. both times we have visited we have noticed a manager who flys out of the back and coursely directs her staff, then just as quickly disappears. these interactions - with a courteous and diligent staff (including bussers and waiters) - seemed coarse. as a small thing as it is, it does detract from the overall experience. the interactions we have had with the wait staff has been positive and friendly. we were confused though why the coffee bar staff seems to be still and have relaticely little involvement with the overall operations, even when the bar is empty of patrons. they should be spoken to! however, except for these minor issues, it was a beautiful day for a great meal. god has blessed joe and his efforts, and with some minor fine-tuning, this will become THE place to go in downtown gilbert!
Lill and I went back for another lunch this past week.
We had the Italia salad which was filled with field greens, assorted salami, olives, sundried tomato, and a few artichoke heart pieces. We shared the salad and a pizza and ended up taking home 1/2 of the pizza. The salad really is huge and quite good. The dressing looked at first to be drenching the salad but it was in-fact quite light with a subtle peppery - lemony flavor. Props for the salad.
The pizza on the other hand was uninspired and not at all unlike what StuC reported above. We got the Margherita which was fairly skimping on a rather bland sauce and way overly topped with cheese. The crust was flavorful and crisp around the edges but soggy past the edge. The basil was fresh though and quite tasty. I won't be going back for pizza but the salad and sandwiches we've had will call us back again.