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Dema's Italian Bistro

 Ste 7, 18256 E Williams Field Rd
Gilbert, AZ
 

Dema's Italian Bistro-

Gilbert Arizona. A town sprouted from generations of hard working farmers, small business owners, and it’s very own military base. A town that has recently burst from it’s rural cocoon and emerged fully morphed into a sprawling landscape filled with stucco homes, soccer mom’s, franchised restaurants, complete with a Walgreens on every corner. A town that seems to have lost it’s small town feel once brought forth from family owned businesses and restaurants.

Enter Baci Italian Bistro. One of the few remaining family owned restaurants that dug its heels in and survived the rapid urbanization that surrounded it. That is until they closed their doors and moved a little bit south into their own newer more modern earth toned stucco building. Leaving behind a building that generations of Gilbert natives, Airman, and Arizona State University co-eds had come to view as a familiar institution.

Thankfully fate, God, or federally protected ex-mob members had something in store for the historic building. That something is now known as Dema’s Italian Bistro. The owners of this new restaurant saved the building and turned it right back into the local family owned restaurant that it had always been. What makes Dema’s even more alluring is the brand new Tattoo shop that has recently popped up next door to it. Now I HAD to go there. Gilbert yuppies, beware.

The first thing you notice when parking there is the hand-written signs sticking out of the mostly dirt parking lot advertising their dishes and the prices you are expected to pay. This immediately turned my wife off of the idea of venturing any further, but of course it had the opposite effect on me. After some brief coaxing and a speech about the importance of having an Indiana Jones like adventuresome nature, in we went.

Immediately greeted by a young and friendly waitress we were led to a table and seated next to what appeared to be the only other couple in the restaurant – a big, old white guy and a younger Asian woman who seemed to be a bit confused about the menu options. I noticed what appeared to be a cook or some other staff member at another table devouring a plate of delicious looking wings. The paint on the walls were a hideous attempt at portraying a Tuscan-esque feel to it and the table clothes were stereotypically printed red and white stripes weaved into a tapestry that screams “Italian family restaurant”.

In front of us was a big screen T.V. broadcasting a poker tournament on ESPN. The volume was up just enough to hear the card playing commentary – but was being drowned out by cheesy Italian music emanating from sources unknown. There’s nothing quite like dining to the sounds of Dean Martin while watching paranoid sun glass wearing douche bags play cards for enormous amounts of money.

After witnessing the chef eat her own wings, I had to give them a try. Mild please. So much for adventuresome. They arrived to the table piping hot and cooked very nicely. You know, not all rubbery like? Just the right amount of crunch followed by an enormous amount of juiciness that I did not know could come from the wing of a buffalo. I recommend the wings, but not the “mild”. Because the mild is very mild, to put it mildly. I don’t think they offer “medium” so go straight for the hot.

Dinner for me was a toss up between the ravioli and the manicotti. Manicotti (with meat sauce) won after a brief inquiry about the portion size. Ravioli, I was told, numbered 6 in total and was smaller in portion to the Manicotti. The wife? Good old fashioned spaghetti and meat sauce. Daughter? Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo.

As “Moon River” played amidst the poker game commentary, out came the side salads. A small bowl of very fresh ingredients including some of the best chopped tomatoes I have had in a while – with a great tasting Ranch dressing.

Salads complete, out came the Spaghetti and the Fettuccine Alfredo. I had to wait a few more minutes for my manicotti. My wife reported that her spaghetti was really quite good, however the meat sauce was a bit too sweet for her taste and the food got cold quicker that she would have expected. My daughter reported (now keep in mind she is 17 and knows more about good Alfredo sauce than Mario Batali) that, and I quote, “Dad, this is quite possibly the best Alfredo sauce I have ever had”. Of course I had to confirm this claim, and with a bite. I determined that it was in fact quite delicious, with a distinct buttery flavor to it – perhaps a bit overwhelmingly so. However, my daughter knows more about her favorite dish than I do, so she highly recommends it.

About 3 minutes later my manicotti arrived. Very hot…so, perfect. A large portion of 3 cheese filled pasta tubes covered in a nice red meat sauce and mozzarella and baked with some green stuff (possibly basil?) on top. It was cheesy, melty, saucy, goodness. The cheeses that filled the pasta were not dry but smooth and velvety. The pasta was a little overcooked in parts, but overall it was a very good dish.

Would I get the same dish again? Probably not. Only because some of their other dishes looked appealing including their calzones, pizzas, and chicken marsala. Oh yeah…we DID get dessert boxed up for home consumption. And to shamelessly misquote The Godfather, we left the plates and took the canoli’s. Two chocolate canoli’s for my ladies and one regular for me. If I were to rate them I would have to say they taste very similar to the canoli’s my Italian / Brooklyn native neighbor makes for Christmas in her own kitchen, so draw your own conclusion.

Price? Well dinner for 3 of us including the wings and tip left me $60.43 poorer. The canoli’s which got sold separately cost me $12.86 (including a dollar tip just because)

Would I go again just to stick it to the corporate Italian food behemoth known as Olive Garden? Yup.

But please lose the big screen TV, get more authentic Italian music, and a new paint job.

Manicotti

 

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