You may not realize it, but Berks County has a history of culinary innovation.
Most famously, funnel cake was first served at the Kutztown Folk Festival before becoming a staple of stadiums and state fairs across the country.
More recently, a Berks County restaurant gave birth to a new dish, one that can only be found at Sal’s Pizza Style in Birdsboro.
Sal’s is an assuming little restaurant on the corner of First and Water Streets in Birdsboro. From the outside, it’s not much to look at it – an unremarkable gray building in a residential part of town.
Inside, guests are funneled to the order counter. To the right, a small dining area features six tables of two to six seats each. The tables are covered in red and white checkered tablecloths. The walls are adorned with everything from photos of family and friends to a large painting of Rocky Balboa.
Sal Amato, the namesake owner, is a larger-than-life personality. He knows his regular customers by name and can tell a first-timer from the moment they walk in the door.
The menu, for the most part, is a typical Italian pizza shop: pizza, sandwiches, burgers and a handful of pasta dinners make up the bulk of the menu.
We were at Sal’s for one thing: the Stromboli pizza.
According to the restaurant’s website, the Stromboli pizza was born in 2015. The concept is so simple, yet completely unique.
It’s essentially a Stromboli – your choice of traditional Italian or ham and cheese – made by taking a large pizza crust and folding it over. Instead of ending there, Sal tops it with tomato sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni. The end result looks like a half pizza pie but with a second layer of flavor.
And it tastes as good as it looks.
We went with the Italian, stuffed with ham, salami, capicolla, sweet peppers, sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Do not mistake this for a stuffed pizza. We have had many of those, but they all feature a single crust and basically have one flavor. This was two separate dishes – an Italian Stromboli and a pepperoni pizza – combined into one.
A brush of garlic butter – at least that’s what I believe it to be – added to the flavor. It reminded me of pepperoni rolls that I used to make years ago, but with an additional layer of meats and cheese.
Sure, you could get pepperoni inside your Stromboli. And it probably wouldn’t have tasted much different from the end result. But where’s the fun in that?
The other advantage of having the pizza on top is there’s no need to dip the Stromboli in marinara sauce. Instead, it had a nice even marinara flavor across the entire dish.
The Stromboli came sliced in four and after Julie and I each ate one, we were stuffed. The other two slices went home with us, saving us from having to cook dinner one night during the week.
For the Stromboli and two drinks – a bottle of water and a bottle of iced tea – our total was $27. It was more than we would spend for pizza or Stromboli, but when you’re getting two full meals and no sides are needed, it felt like a fair price to us.
Sitting at our table, we could hear Sal saying “thank you” and “good night” to customers as they walked out the door. When we left, he was hard at work on another order. As we crossed the street to our car, we heard him yell, “thank you” out the window to us.
That is a man who loves his job. And judging by how many people he knew by name, there are a lot of people who love him and his food.
Add us to that list.
Food: Very Good
Sal’s Pizza Style Inc.
401 E. 1st St
Birdsboro, PA 19508