As part of National Pizza Month, I have spent four weeks sampling some of the most clever and unique pies in Berks County.
Each restaurant has impressed in a different way, taking pizza in completely opposite—but delicious—directions.
Still, the question remained: Who has the best pizza in Berks County?
Despite devoting my October to finding the answer (I stopped counting after my 15th slice), it’s a question that I would be hard-pressed to answer.
What I did know is that my research would not be complete until I tasted the pizza from the restaurant that was voted Best in Berks 2013 by the readers of Berks County Living: Paradise by the Slice.
Wernersville is no island paradise, and the restaurant’s logo—a pizza slice sitting on a beach chair underneath a palm tree—certainly seems out of place on a cool fall evening.
One of the things I am always looking for is the unique: unique food, unique experiences, or anything else that sets the restaurant apart from their competition. So when I found out that Paradise by the Slice has their own app, I didn’t hesitate to download it.
The app is just a cleaner version of the restaurant’s webpage with options to view photos, get directions, follow them on social media, learn about the restaurant, and order on your phone.
In all my times of ordering take-out on my phone, it has been the old-fashioned way (10 digits, speak to an actual person, hope they get the order right). But after using Paradise’s app, I’m hoping more restaurants offer online take-out ordering because it made it fast, easy and convenient—three of the four things you look for when ordering take-out.
The fourth thing, of course, is the food. And with a Best of Berks award in their back pocket, I wasn’t too worried about that when I walked up to the take-out counter (which, oddly enough, is completely detached from the rest of the restaurant).
I resisted the temptation to sneak a slice on the drive home, a difficult task when you’re trapped in a car that smells like cheese and garlic for 15 minutes.
After finally arriving home, I threw open the lid and got my first look at the White Meatball Pizza.
The 14″ pie was topped with garlic butter sauce, sliced meatballs (cut to look more like pepperoni) and mozzarella with handfuls of ricotta, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes strewn about on top.
It’s rare to find any dish—pizza or otherwise—that doesn’t pair meatballs with marinara sauce (Swedish meatballs being the exception) so I was intrigued by the combination of them with the garlic sauce. But I can safely say that it worked.
The key was proportions: there was not too much of any one ingredient to overpower the rest. The sauce was very light, just brushed onto the crust before the toppings were added, and though you could certainly taste the garlic, it wasn’t overly strong. The meatballs, by virtue of being cut so thin, were also milder, and with the mozzarella in between, it wasn’t that much different than taking a bite out of a meatball sandwich.
If one ingredient did stand out over the rest, it was the ricotta, and I think it’s because it was such an unusual topping. The fresh cheese was dropped on in clumps, and while it is a very mild cheese by comparison, getting a mouthful of it really changed the flavor, making it a little sweeter with a light texture.
Wanting to try more than just pizza, we added a side order of Paradise’s beach fries. Advertised as hand-cut to order, they were reminiscent of Boardwalk fries, thin-cut with potato skins clinging to the ends. Though they were very good, I wish we could have enjoyed them fresh from the fryer at the restaurant because the container had begun to sweat on the ride home, making them a little soggy. I’m sure they would have been even better on the table.
As has been the case with most of my pizza adventures, the meal was too much for two people so Julie and I had two slices and a serving of fries to put in the fridge so we could stretch our $20 across two days.
If you asked me if Paradise by the Slice is the “Best in Berks,” I don’t know that I could give you a definitive answer.
But if you asked me if I would go back again, the answer is a resounding “yes.”