I’ve written this story before: a restaurant closes and a new one takes its place. Generally, one of two things happens.
The new restaurant can try to be the old one or the new restaurant takes a different direction.
In Stouchsburg, at Berks County’s western edge, we’ve seen the former. When Risser’s Family Restaurant closed, a new diner, the Blue Star Family Restaurant, took its place. The only real difference was the dropping of Pennsylvania Dutch specialties. Otherwise, it went from one diner to another.
It started off well for Blue Star, as I wrote about in the blog. But it was never Risser’s, and the restaurant has greatly dropped off in popularity.
Not far from the Blue Star was the Back Forty Bar & Grill. Back Forty, itself, had taken the place of a long-standing restaurant, the Black Dog Cafe. Back Forty did elevated bar/pub food, and was very good at it. But the Back Forty closed late in 2017, and a new restaurant has taken its place.
DarrylZ Hometown Grille has taken a whole new direction, offering value priced lunch and dinner with a menu that more closely resembles a diner than the former bar that it replaced.
Julie, Jakob and I visited on a Saturday night where we were joined by my brother, his wife Lauren and daughter Leah, as well as my parents.
Our first impression wasn’t great. We had made reservations for six plus two infants. When we arrived, there were only four chairs. Whoever took the reservation apparently had written four plus two infants.
Two more chairs were brought in and it was no big deal – the round table was plenty large enough for all eight of us – but there were also no place settings. So when salads and appetizers arrived, we had to ask for silverware.
I don’t normally look too closely at the silverware (except to make sure that it’s clean) but I couldn’t help but notice that everyone had a different size steak knife wrapped in their napkins.
But things definitely got better, starting with the appetizers, which arrived very quickly.
Julie and I ordered the fried mozzarella. The four mozzarella sticks were served with a cup of marinara on a bed of a single lettuce leaf.
I can’t say that there was anything out of the ordinary, but it was very good. The mozzarella was fried to a nice crisp. The marinara was chunky and flavorful. It was just well-executed mozzarella sticks.
Being out with the family, there was a chance to try another appetizer – the corn nuggets that my parents ordered.
Corn nuggets are nothing exciting, but these were dusted with powdered sugar and served with cup of syrup. The end product was somewhere between a funnel cake and pancakes.
Our entrees didn’t take very long, either. DarrylZ menu is very diner-esque with a lot of burgers and sandwiches, like the hot roast beef and fryz (DarrylZ, like Sheetz, uses the “z” for its French fries).
I had low expectations for the sandwich, but was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Roast beef sandwiches are hit-or-miss depending on how they definite “roast beef.” At some places, it’s heated up deli meat slices. At DarrylZ, I was happy to find the roast beef done pot roast-style with tender chunks of meat that pulled apart easily. The whole sandwich was smothered in a good beef gravy.
The fries – sorry, fryz – were very well done. They were thick-cut and very lightly seasoned.
I ate as many as I could, but after having the mozzarella sticks, I just didn’t have room to finish mine off.
Julie had an even larger pile of fryz with her hot ham and cheese on a pretzel roll. The sandwich is normally served with chips, but Julie upgraded. She would have liked a little more seasoning on them. I tend to agree, especially with so many, they could have used a little something more.
The ham and cheese was also very good. Both the ham and American cheese were pouring out the sides. And with a fresh roll, a hot ham and cheese on a pretzel bun is hard to beat.
DarrylZ also has a nice selection of desserts, but none of us had room for any (though my dad got a slice of peanut butter cream pie to take home).
One other note: while we were waiting for our meals to arrive, Jakob started to get hungry so we asked for a bowl of hot water to heat up his bottle. The staff happily obliged us and Jakob enjoyed his meal as well. (The restaurant doesn’t have a changing table, though).
DarrylZ prices are also a big plus. For Julie and I, our appetizer and two entrees (including the fryz upgrade) was $25. It would have been under the $20 mark if we hadn’t splurged on the mozzarella sticks.
DarrylZ is definitely not the Back Forty, and it doesn’t try to be. That’s probably the best thing that the new restaurant could do is take the location in a new direction.
And other than a few hiccups before the meal even started, it seems like it’s on the right path.
Food: Very Good
Service: Poor Preparation, Good Service
Price: Very Reasonable
DarrylZ Hometown Grille
116 Main St
Stouchsburg, PA 19567