First Taste

Bar en Gril in Gilbert: A Former Native New Yorker Turns Into Neighborhood Sports Bar

​When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions. Share a few photos, some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Bar en Gril Location: 110 South Val Vista Drive, Gilbert Open For: About a month and a half. Eats: Casual bar eats like pizza, wings, sandwiches, and salads. Price Point: $7 - $20

Owner Aaron Lopo, formerly in management positions at P.F. Chang's China Bistro and Mastro's, and his partner Dan Warren, opened Bar en Gril in September at Val Vista Drive and Elliot Road in Gilbert. Lopo says the idea for the restaurant, formally a Native New Yorker, is "pairing an everyday family dining environment with the ability to view sports in a welcoming atmosphere."

In addition to breakfast on Sundays with offerings like breakfast pizzas and French toast, a happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and a reverse happy hour from 9 p.m. until midnight Mondays and Sundays, Bar en Gril also boasts a late-night kitchen -- open until midnight throughout the week.

I stopped by the other night and took a first taste.

The atmosphere is sparse and spacious. Along with an exterior patio, there are two large rooms inside and not a seat in the house where you won't be able to see one of the dozens of TVs. Perhaps they are still fiddling with the noise level, but on my visit, the sound from one of the broadcasts was being pumped through the house and was quite loud, especially during the commercials.

Owner Aaron Lopo created Bar en Gril's menu of standard bar eats such as pizzas, wings, sandwiches, and salads. Chicken items are marked with a pink breast cancer ribbon to let guests know a portion of the sale will go to breast cancer charities.

Given Bar en Gril's dimly lit room and black menu filled with tiny white type, you might want to bring along a strong pair of reading glasses or have one of the friendly servers guide you to the good stuff if you happen to be visiting during the evening hours.

If you like your wings meaty and slathered in sauce, you'll enjoy the ones served here. My bar snack of warm and chewy pretzel chunks served with horseradish Dijon and cheese was solid. And although slightly greasy, my "Get Yo Meat On" pizza, featuring Italian sausage, pepperoni, ham, and applewood bacon, had a nice, crunchy crust -- good enough that, if I were to visit again, I would try another pizza on the menu.

Overall, the food at Bar en Gril probably isn't going to win any awards, but I'm not sure that's the point. What it does offer is the folks of Gilbert a nice neighborhood place to hang out and enjoy the game while downing some decent grub and a cold beer or two. And with the NFL season now in full swing, why not give it a whirl?

What say you, sports fans? Have you been to Bar en Gril yet? What did you think?

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld