Reviewed by Megan Sterling
230 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Saturday 7:00am – 9:00pm
Sunday 7:00am – 8:00pm
Phone: (480) 892-1900
In the stretch of downtown Gilbert that resembles a mash-up of Mayberry and a movie set, under the shadow of a water tower, stands Liberty Market. Bathed in soothing pink and green neon, it’s a comforting reminder that there’s much more to the East Valley dining scene than fast food and chain restaurants. While the interior is an artful mix of industrial and retro that wouldn’t be out of place in Los Feliz or Brooklyn, the friendly staff and genuine small-town warmth are pure East Valley.
The large, open dining room is filled with the pleasant hum of the espresso machine whirring in the background – which we found out later recently celebrated its forty-fifth birthday. The take-out/ordering counter takes up much of the length of one wall and there are multiple seating options, including a counter with prime viewing of the wood fired pizza oven.
The menu features a full array of pressed sandwiches, pizzas, dinner starters and entrees. The worst part about our experience was trying to figure out where to start. With helpful input from staff members, my dining companion chose ceviche from the specials board and I opted for caprese salad, which arrived beautifully plated with balsamic vinaigrette drizzled over alternating rounds of juicy plump tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. The ceviche was equally impressive, with chunks of fresh seafood marinated in lime juice, served atop a bed of mixed greens and tortilla chips.
Flat iron steak – marinated in Mr. Pibb – was my dining companion’s choice of entree. It was perfectly cooked and presented atop garlic mashed potatoes with fresh vegetables alongside. The soda marinade gave it a subtle sweetness that made for a unique take on the traditional grilled steak.
The masterpiece on our table that evening was the white pizza. I had to keep my eyes on it at all times to keep my dining companion from snatching pieces. The key to success here was the ethereal combination of parmesan cream sauce and smoked mozzarella, which was overlaid with grilled chicken, chopped bacon, pine nuts and arugula. The crust was perfection – chewy and dense, puffy and charred on top.
Even on full stomachs, dessert was not to be resisted. The take-out counter is full of options – red velvet cake and an intriguing option called the “Salt River Bar” – but I knew for me it had to be crème brulee. It was artfully deconstructed – the creamy concoction was studded with jagged sugar pieces, rather than the traditional full coating of sugar crust. It was the perfect end to our meal and just as good, if not better, than anything I’d had on a recent trip to Paris.
Liberty Market is a wonderful dining option to have at our disposal in the East Valley. The food was top-notch and the warm vibe makes it easy to envision being a regular.