October is National Pizza Month, and Berks County Eats is celebrating by visiting some of our area’s best pizzerias all month long.
Four years ago, I took my first trip to Chicago. It was a chance to enjoy another rich culinary scene, but more importantly, a chance to try some authentic deep dish pizza.
It’s a regional favorite that you just don’t find very often around here (we had an UNO Chicago Grill at one time, but that’s like saying we have authentic Tex-Mex food because we have a Moe’s Southwest Grill).
But a good deep dish pizza isn’t as hard to find as I thought. In fact, it’s the specialty of the house at Romano’s Chicago Style Pizza Grill.
Romano’s doesn’t have the best location in town. It sits on the corner of Lancaster Ave. and Grace St., south of the Bingaman St. Bridge, with no parking lot of its own. There are private parking lots all around it, but just a handful of spaces along the curb that are readily available for Romano’s customers.
On a rainy Tuesday night, that wasn’t a problem. We found a spot along Grace St. and rushed inside.
It was a slow night for Romano’s. Only the counter service area was lit up. The small dining room was shut down, the lights were out and the TV was turned off. But they fired everything back up for us so we had our own private dining area for the night.
The decor is simple, just a couple of pictures hanging on the walls and a flat-screen in the corner. We made ourselves at home at one of the half-dozen tables in the room while we waited.
At the front counter, there were a few tired looking slices waiting to be claimed, but we ordered a whole pie so we knew ours would be fresh but would take time (25 minutes). To tie us over until it arrived, we ordered a few garlic knots to share.
The garlic knots were also sitting on the counter in a big bowl, but we were less concerned with the way they would heat up than the pizza. They turned out pretty well — maybe just a little chewy — but the flavor was good, especially with the marinara dipping sauce.
We ordered light on the appetizer because we knew we had a daunting meal ahead of us in the form of a 14″ Chicago deep dish pizza.
It was quite a sight to behold, a true pie with a tall crust, a thick layer of cheese, a light layer of tomato sauce and a dusting of Parmesan on top.
The pie was cut in six big slices. I grabbed my first slice and was surprised to find that I didn’t need a fork and knife. Instead, I was able to pick it up and eat it like any other pizza.
But this was not like any other pizza. The tomato sauce was sweeter; the cheese gooier. And the dusting of cheese on top added a nice saltiness to the dish and helped bring it all together.
When eating a more traditional pizza, I can usually force four slices if it’s good. This was great, but I could only manage two. It was too robust and filling to pack away any more. Julie struggled even more, making it through one-and-a-half slices before calling for a box.
We took what was left of our meal up to the front counter and had it packed up before moving on to the cash register to pay our bill. With two bottles of water thrown in, our bill was a little under $25, not a bad price considering the pizza could have comfortably fed four people.
Romano’s brought a fresh flavor to Reading when they opened for business in January. There are dozens of pizza places across the county, but only Romano’s is bringing the taste of Chicago to Berks County.
And it has certainly been a welcome addition.