Infinito’s

infinito-s-pizza-pasta-salad-buffet

I love a good buffet.

There’s nothing like having everything laid out in front of you, ready to grab and go. No ordering. No waiting.

That’s a big part of the draw for a place like Infinito’s.

Tucked away near the Kmart in a shopping plaza along the 5th Street Highway, Infinito’s is an unassuming place.

It’s one of seven locations for the locally owned chain of pizza, pasta and salad buffets, and the only one in Berks County.

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Infinito’s offers 20 varieties of pizza, pasta with three sauce selections and a build-your-own salad bar. The salad bar is where Julie and I started our journey.

Options are limited: lettuce or baby spinach for the base. Then there’s your traditional toppings: cheese, onions, peppers, croutons and more with half a dozen varieties of Hidden Valley dressings.

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We both had basic salads, just to add some nutritional value to our meal without filling ourselves.

The best way to judge a pizza place is with a plain cheese slice, so my first trip to the buffet line included cheese and pepperoni.

infinito-s-cheese-pepperonia-pizza

Infinito’s pizza features a very thin, crisp crust. The cheese was nice and bubbly. All in all, it was a good looking slice.

And it tasted pretty good, too. There’s nothing remarkable about it, but I enjoyed it. The pepperoni piece had plenty of slices on it to enjoy.

infinito-s-bacon-pepperoni-buffalo-chicken-pizza

Julie’s first plate included pepperoni, bacon and buffalo chicken slices, all good choices. The crumbled bacon was lumped on the slice, and the buffalo chicken had just the right amount of kick.

Full pies are roughly the size of a medium pizza at most restaurants, and with the pies cut into eights, it makes it easy to go for seconds, thirds and fourths.

infinito-s-margherita-bbq-chicken-pizza-pasta-bolognese

My second plate included two slices (margherita and barbecue chicken) and a scoop of pasta with Bolognese sauce.

The margherita was my favorite slice that I tried. The fresh basil leaves that were layered in with the cheese and tomatoes were perfect. The barbecue chicken wasn’t bad, but it didn’t stand out.

infinito-s-pasta-buffet

The pasta bar has three sauce choices: marinara, Bolognese and alfredo. I went with the Bolognese, the only meat sauce option. The pasta was generic rotini, and while it was OK, I probably should have skipped it for another slice instead.

infinito-s-hawaiian-margherita-pizza-pasta-bolognese

Julie got the same thing with her second plate, which also included a slice of the margherita and a Hawaiian. The Hawaiian was fresh out of the oven, the cheese still hot and gooey, just the way Julie likes it.

infinito-s-rosa-pizza-breadstick

I was going to go for dessert but stopped when I saw a fresh rosé pie on the counter. I grabbed a slice and a breadstick. The rosé featured its namesake creamy tomato sauce with lots of oregano. It was right behind the margherita for me in terms of favorites.

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We each had one final trip to make to the buffet for our choice of three dessert pies and cinnamon rolls.

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I went with a slice of apple, a sliver of Oreo and a cinnamon roll. The cinnamon roll wasn’t bad, though it would have been better if it were fresher (it was stuck to the pan when I tried to pick it up from the buffet). The apple was delicious, with a sugary crumb on top. And the Oreo was exactly what I had hoped, though it left me longing for a glass of milk.

infinito-s-smores-pizza-cinnamon-roll

The other dessert option was S’mores Pizza, Julie’s choice (along with a cinnamon roll). Marshmallow, melted chocolate and graham cracker crumble. It’s not exactly like eating it around a campfire, but if you like marshmallow, you should enjoy this.

Our final tally for the day: 13 slices of pizza, two salads, two helpings of pasta, two cinnamon rolls, one breadstick and five drink refills. Not a bad haul for $18.

If you’re going to go to Infinito’s (or any other buffet, for that matter), you’re best bet is to go during peak hours, when the pies are changing quickly. Be sure to grab a seat near the buffet, too, so you can hear the announcement every time a new pie arrives.

Does Infinito’s have the best pizza in Berks? No. I don’t think there are many people that would argue that. But what they offer is an incredible variety and the opportunity to please everyone.

That’s why I love a good buffet.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: Fair
Price: Very Reasonable

Infinito’s Pizza
3025 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Infinito's Pizza Buffet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Buffets Dessert Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews

Giannotti’s Italian Kitchen – CLOSED

giannotti-s-italian-kitchen-fireplace

Note: Giannotti’s Italian Kitchen is now closed. The restaurant location is set to become a doctor’s office, opening in March 2017.

While crisscrossing the county looking for great food, it’s inevitable that I will end up at a place from my childhood every now and then.

Growing up in the Robesonia area, there were not a lot of options to choose from, unless you wanted Italian. Then you had two choices: Tony’s Family Restaurant on the west side of town or Giannotti’s Family Restaurant on the east side.

Recently, Julie and I paid my grandmother a visit and offered to take her out for dinner. We headed east to Giannotti’s.

It’s been more than a decade since Julie and I last visited Giannotti’s in Robesonia. We’ve changed a lot since then, and so has the restaurant, rebranding itself last year from Giannotti’s Family Restaurant to Giannotti’s Italian Kitchen.

The building also received a major facelift. The bar used to be hidden in the back of the building. Now it’s right inside the front door (and looks great). The dining room felt more intimate with softer lighting and a faux fireplace in the center of the room.

Our server brought down the mood right away. Introducing herself before adding, “I guess I’ll be serving you.”

Still, I was excited about our meal at the new Italian Kitchen. With a family restaurant, you expected pizza, sandwiches and some pasta. But with an Italian Kitchen, I expected some truly inspired dishes from the Old World.

Seeing the new menu was another let-down. It’s still mostly sandwiches and pizza, though now they are pizzabellas, with an upcharge to make them “family size.”

Instead of offering unique pasta selections, everything is now build-your-own — choose one of four pastas, four toppings and five sauces (over 100 combinations, the menu proclaims).

giannotti-s-italian-kitchen-lamb-shank-risotto

There are also seven additional entrees, including chicken marsala, stuffed sirloin, and my choice, risotto with broccoli and lamb shank in Béarnaise sauce.

If I’ve learned one thing from watching Guy’s Grocery Games, it’s that you can’t make great risotto in less than 30 minutes. Mine arrived in 20.

The lamb looked great, and was very good. Béarnaise would not have been my first choice to go with lamb, but it worked. Because it was just drizzled on top of the shank, it never had time to marinate with the meat so only the first few bites had any sauce at all. Still, the meat was tender and cooked well so I enjoyed it.

As I had feared, the risotto was a little off. I don’t know if it was cooked too long or not long enough (my guess), but some of the rice was a little hard, making it chewy and less enjoyable the longer I ate.

Our waitress, who seemed a little off herself, had tried to talk me into an additional side, but I was glad that I passed because there was more than enough food on my plate (I finished it, but I could have stopped much sooner and still left full).

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Julie went with an entree as well, the chicken parm. Unlike my dish, which included three components, the chicken parm is served with no sides. It was an additional charge for a side of pasta, but she got it.

It was a good thing, too. The chicken parm was fine, but wasn’t anything special. The pasta (linguine was her choice) was good with a light red sauce and diced tomatoes.

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My grandmother’s lasagna was good, and just the right amount of food for her (again, our waitress had tried to talk her into adding a side, which, incidentally, are not listed anywhere on the menu).

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All of our meals did come with house salads. Though I have to say, I miss the salad bar that used to be in the dining room.

I will give them credit for their prices because even with my $21 entree —  the most expensive on the menu — our final total was only around $55 (that also included a mixed drink and an iced tea).

While the meal wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for. Our server was less than enthusiastic about her job (though the hostess and other servers seemed great).  The food was good, but nothing wowed me like I was hoping.

The next time I revisit my childhood, I think I’ll order a pizza.

Giannotti's Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Closed Reviews

Klinger’s taking over Fleetwood Grille; two new restaurants open; more food news

Klinger’s to open new Fleetwood Grille

The owners of Klinger’s on Carsonia are the new owners of the Fleetwood Grille, and they plan to reopen in June, according to posts on its official Facebook page. The former Fleetwood Grille and Simmeria Bistro closed in April after five years in business.

Guacamole Mexican Grill opens on Route 61

A new restaurant has opened in the former Ray’s Original O’Grady’s on Route 61 in Muhlenberg Township. Guacamole Mexican Grill opened their doors at the end of April. The new restaurant does not have a website, but you can find more information, including the menu, on its Facebook page.

Premium Pasta Pizza & Subs opens in West Reading

Premium Pasta Pizza & Subs is now open on the corner of Franklin Street and Second Avenue in West Reading. The new restaurant opened on May 15, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page. The location has been home to restaurants in the past, including D&D Sandwich Shop.

Chatty Monks scraps Phoenixville expansion

Chatty Monks Brewing Company has cancelled plans to expand to Phoenixville, according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Chatty Monks had announced in August that they were going to open a new, larger location in Phoenixville. Instead, the West Reading brewery and restaurant will not expand, citing concerns with growing too fast, too soon.

 

Food News
Mikura was named Best Chinese in Berks.

Mikura Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar

mikura-exterior

Since starting weekly blogs in 2014, I don’t get much opportunity to make return visits to restaurants. It’s much more exciting to try someplace new than revisit the old.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like the places that I visited in the past. I just have to be more selective with where I go on a weekly basis.

One of the restaurants that I haven’t been able to visit in a long time is Mikura Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar.

I first visited Mikura almost four years ago, not long after it opened in a strip mall along North Park Road in Wyomissing. At the time, I was able to get there for the small weekday lunch buffet. I had enjoyed my meal but never had a chance to return, despite the fact that it’s just a five-minute walk from my house.

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So finally, after Julie and I had taken countless walks past the restaurant, we stopped for dinner.

There are two sections to the restaurant. The main dining room and sushi bar are on the left. To the right is the hibachi space (where the lunch buffet was on my visit).

Mikura was actually the second restaurant for the owner of China Penn, and it shows with the extensive menu.

It includes a combination of Chinese, Japanese and Thai dishes. It’s great until you have to make a decision.

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Thankfully Julie and I had one easy decision: smoothies. (We did walk there so we could afford a few extra calories). I’m not sure why so many Asian restaurants that I’ve visited offer smoothies, but I’m not going to complain about it because we always enjoy them.

Dinner was a harder decision. After looking through everything at least three times, I settled on the Thai Panang curry.

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I’m not an expert by any means, but the dish didn’t look like curry to me. It was very thin in texture and a lot lighter in color than any I have seen before. The lighter color was owing to the coconut milk base, but even Panang curry usually has a reddish brown tint to it.

That’s not to say that it didn’t look appealing in its own way. The chicken, broccoli, snap peas and peppers all looked appetizing, especially with the red chili flakes.

The coconut milk and the chili were definitely the predominant flavors. It was spicy, especially the after taste. I was glad to have my smoothie handy to cool down after every bite.

mikura-thai-mango-shrimp

Julie also went with a Thai-inspired dish, the Thai mango shrimp. The shrimp and mango were stir-fried with snow peas, bell peppers and asparagus in a mango sauce.

All of the ingredients were slathered in a glaze-like sauce, but it was the mango that provided most of the flavor, complimenting the shrimp quite nicely. The vegetables, cooked to al dente, added a crunchy texture.

Both of our entrees were served with a bowl of white rice on the side, which was very helpful in sopping up the runny sauces.

It was a good meal and the service was very quick. We were in and out in less than an hour.

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Our smoothies made it a little pricier than it otherwise would have been. The final bill was nearly $40, but $10 of that was the smoothies.

I was glad to finally make a return trip to Mikura. We both enjoyed our meals and look forward to returning again. And with such a large menu, there are plenty more dishes to enjoy.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: Reasonable

Mikura Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar
840 N. Park Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Mikura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Asian & Pacific Islands Lunch & Dinner Reviews

D&J Sandwich Shop

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A good sandwich is never hard to find in Berks County. There are dozens of great sandwich shops that offer quick meals for lunch and dinner.

You’ll find at least one in almost every little town. And like with pizzerias, everyone has their favorite sandwich shop.

For Julie and I, one of our favorites has always been D&J Sandwich Shop on the edge of Wyomissing and Shillington.

Julie and I have both been to D&J often. I needed an outsider’s perspective for the blog so I called up my brother, Matt.

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The location is not ideal for a restaurant — or any business. The corner of Revere Boulevard (Route 724) and Old Fritztown Roaddone a tremendous  is heavily trafficked, but the restaurant lacks parking.

Customers are welcome to pull up in front of the building in unlined spaces. It can be challenging to get in and out, however, especially if another car is entering or leaving the lot. It’s also a challenge if you drive a Toyota Tundra like my brother.

But there was still a steady flow of customers while we were there so they either found space out front or did what we did and park along Old Fritztown Road.

d&j-barstools

D&J’s interior has been retrofitted, literally, with the classic look of a 1950s-era diner. The stainless steel counter stools are covered in teal and purple leather seats. The same colors are used on the chairs around the half dozen tables that sit on the black and white checkered floor.

Everything else seems to have a Coca-Cola logo on it, from the napkin dispensers to the ceiling fans, where every blade is in the shape of a glass Coke bottle.

After ordering at the counter, my brother and I took a seat and waited for dinner to arrive.

We ordered a lot of food: two sandwiches, an order of fries and some mini tacos that my brother ordered on a whim (because I was buying).

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The mini tacos were the size of a folded over tortilla chip, filled with beef and deep fried. And they were actually pretty good. I’m sure I could find something similar in the freezer section of the grocery store, but we downed them quick.

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I ordered a meatball sub for my main dish. I’ve had them before at D&J and always enjoyed them. The meatballs are big; the sauce is good; and they always add the right amount of peppers and onions. With all of the other food, I probably should have just had a small, but I managed to finish it.

Matt felt guilty about ordering his ham and cheese because he thought it was boring. It actually was anything but.

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D&J doesn’t make their grilled ham and cheese with slabs of lunch meat, but with chopped ham. It looked like a steak sandwich where someone grabbed the wrong meat. But the chopped ham worked, and little bro enjoyed it.

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One of my favorite things about D&J is the fries: crinkle cut, crispy (but not burnt), well-salted and addicting. Matt agreed.

Fries here are shareable, even for two hungry eaters like us. (If you’re going solo, ask for the more manageable half-order).

Our more than $30 total was a little more than I usually expect to pay at D&J, but we can blame that on getting large sandwiches and an extra side (plus our two drinks).

D&J has been one of our favorite sandwich shops for many years now. And after taking my brother, I think there was another convert.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: Reasonable

D&J Sandwich Shop
200 Revere Blvd
Reading, PA 19609

D & J Sandwich Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Diners Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Patty’s closes; El Morro announces opening dates; more food news

Wyomissing’s Patty’s Soups closes

Patty’s Soups, Salads and Such in Wyomissing has closed after four years in business. The announcement was made on the restaurant’s Facebook page last week. The restaurant was located on Park Road in the same strip mall as two other restaurants, Nino’s of Wyomissing and Mikura.

El Morro to celebrate Grand Opening May 19 & 20

The new El Morro Cafe will celebrate its grand opening on May 19 and 20. The new West Reading restaurant, the second location for the owners of Old San Juan Cafe in Reading, will have live entertainment and free samples both days. El Morro is located at 808 North Ninth Street.

Rutter’s planned for Hamburg

Hamburg is set to get a new Rutter’s Farm Store, according to an article in the April 26 Reading Eagle. The new convenience store will be open 24 hours. Rutter’s menu is similar to Sheetz’s with made-to-order burgers, wraps, chicken, nachos, sandwiches and more. Scheduled to open in late summer, the store will be located at the corner of Route 61 and Grand Street.

Chef Tim Twiford wins Taste of Wyomissing

Chef Tim Twiford from the Crowne Plaza Wyomissing earned top honors in the annual Taste of Wyomissing event, his second victory in as many years, according to the April 29 Reading Eagle. Chef Twiford’s dish was voted best among six participating restaurants in the community choice category.

Food News

5th Street Diner

5th-street-diner-exterior

I love diners. We have some great ones in Berks County, and I always enjoy trying a new one.

Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you have an expectation of what you’ll get: good food, fast service and reasonable prices.

That’s what Julie and I were hoping for on our visit to the 5th Street Diner in Muhlenberg Township (just north of Temple).

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5th Street is your quintessential diner. Stainless steel covers the building, inside and out. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And the menu is the size of a small encyclopedia.

It’s eight pages (plus specials) filled with everything from steaks and chops to all-day breakfast. Like all great diners, the prices are very affordable, too. The highest priced entree is just $17.60 (the 14 oz. steak New Orleans).

Among the half-page inserts throughout the menu are four Greek specialties. One intrigued me more than the rest: moussaka.

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Moussaka is basically a Greek shepherd’s pie, with layers of mashed potatoes and ground beef. The difference is the addition of eggplant where carrots, peas and onions would have been.

The potatoes were light and fluffy. The eggplant was thinly sliced and very tender. The ground beef was lightly seasoned. And the whole dish was topped off with béchamel sauce (a light dairy-based sauce).

I really enjoyed the whole dish. It was hearty and very meaty (at least a quarter-pound of ground beef on the bottom layer). The portion size was perfect, especially considering it came with two sides and a cup of soup.

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My soup of choice was Italian wedding. Like the moussaka, it was very hearty, with plenty of acini de pepe and meatballs. It was a little salty, but still very good.

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For my sides, I went with rice pilaf and applesauce. They were okay, but there wasn’t anything special about them. I just was looking to order something that wasn’t starchy to go with my potato-heavy entree.

Julie found her dinner in the poultry and pasta section of the menu. The chicken New Orleans featured two chicken breasts topped with jumbo shrimp, bacon, barbecue sauce and Swiss cheese.

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The flavors mixed very well together, even though there was a lot of barbecue sauce covering everything. It helped that the chicken was very tender and juicy.

The chicken New Orleans did not come with sides; instead, the poultry and pasta entrees were all served with soup and salad.

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For her soup, Julie got chicken noodle. But there was a lot more noodle than chicken (it was overflowing the cup when it was came out). It was still pretty good, though.

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The salad was your basic garden salad with a cup of dressing (ranch for Julie). The problem with soup and salad was that Julie hadn’t finished both before our entrees arrived so half of the salad went uneaten.

Diners are always fast-paced, but things seemed to be moving a little too quickly for our waitress. While she didn’t make any mistakes, she seemed frazzled throughout our meal, and was confused about what did and did not come with our entrees (she thought for sure that Julie’s chicken was supposed to come with rice).

But that would be only our complaint for our meal. It was fast. It was good. It was cheap ($22 for two meals).

Our dinner at the 5th Street Diner was exactly what we were hoping it would be.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Fair
Ambiance:Good
Price: Very Reasonable

5th Street Diner
5340 Allentown Pk
Temple, PA 19560

5th Street Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Diners Lunch & Dinner Reviews