Calandra’s Italian Village (Caldwell)
234 Bloomfield Ave.
Caldwell, NJ 07006-5101
Checked out Calandra’s Italian Village this weekend and was not disappointed. The restaurant/bar/bakery/market/wine store/gelataria is everything you would expect and perhaps a little bit more.
Calandra’s is the kind of Italian market JerseyCool used to run into in Queens and Little Italy and we are sure that is no accident. Italian music is ambient when you walk in, and the store opens to a large bakery but there is much, much more.
You can get a meal, a dessert, a sandwich, or all of the ingredients to make what you want at home. Heck there’s a store selling Team Italia clothing so you can stock up before the World Cup. There is also a Tavern adjacent to the restaurant with a large black bar and big screen TVs for sporting events (see World Cup).
It was raining so we couldn’t try the outside seating but there are enough tables that Calandra’s should be a nice addition to the outdoor dining scene.
Now, to the important part. We didn’t try out the restaurant, which was about half full late on a Saturday. Not a bad sign. We did try the gelato and it was, as most gelato is, fabulous. The ice cream was sweat but not as sugary as regular ice cream, which is the point .Try the Baci Gelato with broken bits of the Italian candies. You can also find traditional nocciola, amarena, stracciatella and zabione and most other easily recognizable flavors.
The wine store has a limited selection of vintages from Italy. Most, if not all, are available for sampling on request and we picked up a couple of bottles from the Calabria region of Italy.
From the bakery we got a fresh baked ring and it too did not disappoint. The fine crust was complemented nicely by a sweat, soft interior. We spent the evening dipping bread into olive oil and cheese. Dr. Atkins was rolling in his grave but it was worth it.
The bakery advertises fresh bread on the hour and we saw nothing that would have contradicted that.
As for the restaurant, online reviews have been less than kind, but we’ll reserve judgment until we get a chance to sample the fare. With a well-stocked market featuring hard to find pastas and imported specialty items, Calandra’s is well worth a stop to pick up goods for a home-cooked Italian meal. It won’t be the real thing but, from what we sampled, it might be close enough.