Restaurant of the Week: Claro’s Italian Market, Upland

Claro’s Italian Market, 1655 N. Mountain Ave. (at 16th), Upland; open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday; closed Wednesday

You know how it is: Sometimes there’s a long-lived, beloved restaurant that you always mean to try, but you never get around to it. Claro’s was like that for me. I knew where it was, but it’s rare that I pass by on North Mountain, and since it’s a market, seating might be an issue. It was always a “one day I’ll check it out” kind of place for me.

But then a friend in the San Gabriel Valley brought up Claro’s to me, as there are a few out that way. This was two weeks ago, on what was looking to be the the last hot stretch we were likely to have in 2018. Since the heat was such that eating outdoors would be comfortable for your easily chilled blogger, I resolved to make a special trip for lunch that Friday before inspiration faded.

Claro’s is larger than I’d have expected, the deli area busy with employees preparing catering orders and fulfilling a long grocery list of the other mid-afternoon customer, who ordered a pound or half-pound of multiple deli meats. The store, incidentally, has pasta, sauces, canned tomatoes and many other Italian items — as probably everyone reading this has known for years.

The young man taking my order suggested the Grandpa Joe as the deli’s most popular sandwich. It’s got salami, capocolla, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, pepperocini and dressing on a (what else?) Italian roll. Price is $7 for a small or $8.49 for a large. So obviously I got the large.

I paid at the register and also bought a $1.20 cookie, which, charmingly, rang up on the receipt as “Delicious Claro’s cookies,” and a Pepsi, then took it all out to one of the half-dozen outdoor tables, situated under the broad awning. Customers came and went from the store, some grabbing a small shopping cart before entering.

The capocolla and pepperocini provided a nice kick that cut through the other fillings like Willie Nelson’s voice through your speakers. The roll was soft and crusty. The result was delicious, possibly the best such cold deli sandwich in the Inland Valley.

Half a sandwich would have been fine, by the way, but I went ahead and finished it. And the cookie did not make a liar out of the receipt.

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  • DebB

    Have you tried the ramen at Menkoi Ya, on Bonita in the village? I had lunch there yesterday and enjoyed it very much. I had the Menkoi Ramen, which was very flavorful. And as I ate my noodles I was bippity-boppity-booing to the Disney classics they were playing!

    • davidallen909

      Not yet! But with the cooler weather, a bowl of ramen is sounding good. (I’m not handy with chopsticks and am thus anticipating eating there at some slow time when I can fumble around, noodles hanging from my mouth, with fewer witnesses.)

      The Village now has a second ramen establishment, in the former Yiannis space, by the way.

      • DebB

        I sat at the bar with my back to everyone!

        Didn’t know about Yiannis….

  • Joey Catuara

    I’m a huge fan of Claro’s sandwiches, but you now should try Padua Pasta Maker’s – similar quality meat, but on a tastier (in my opinion) Italian roll