Liberty Market

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230 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert
480-892-1900

Housed in the 30s-era building that was home to Liberty Market for 70 years, the new incarnation is still part market -- offering pastas, cheeses, olives and grab-and-go sandwiches. But most of the space has been transformed into a sleek, no frills, order-at-the-counter restaurant, complete with community table and espresso bar (the latter named for and built around the famous Italian espresso maker called Faema E61). It's the handiwork of Joe Johnston, the guy who also runs Joe's Farm Grill in Agritopia and Joe's Real BBQ across the street. I like all of Joe's operations, but this one is probably my favorite. For starters, I love the thin-crust, wood-fired pizzas, particularly the white pizza (combining grilled chicken, chopped bacon, smoked mozzarella, Parmesan cream sauce, pine nuts and fresh arugula) and the grilled sausage pizza (combining Schreiner's sausage, tomato sauce, mozzarella, fresh herbs and ricotta). As for sandwiches, the Arizona Sky -- which may also be ordered as a salad -- is one hell of a ham and cheese, pressed and melting, its insides smeared with poblano aioli. The Picnic is also outstanding, a turkey sandwich layered with crisp green apple, Gorgonzola, pecan bits and mixed greens. Try it with a smoky-sweet side salad of roasted sweet potatoes, dressed with chipotle vinaigrette. Yummy desserts include crumbly blueberry or apricot scones, moist Red Velvet cake and the best chocolate truffle cookies you'll find anywhere for $1.50. Chalk another winner up for old Joe. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. $-$$