One of the places that has been on my list to try for a long time isn’t really a restaurant. It’s more of a grocery store. But it’s also so much more than that.
Russo Market is a little off the beaten path, away from Penn Ave along Bern Road in Wyomissing, near the Works, Building 24 and Gold’s Gym.
Julie has enjoyed many lunches at Russo, but never with me. I finally had the chance to change that on a recent afternoon.
The drab exterior of Russo Market had not prepared me for the vast market inside. The building opens up to aisles of pasta, imported sauces, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), frozen treats, and other foods from Italy, Greece and beyond.
At the back of the market is the hot and prepared foods area. There are sheets of Sicilian pizza waiting to take another trip through the oven; a hot bar filled with meals like lasagna, meatballs and fried mozzarella; and a large salad bar that’s better than most restaurants.
There’s even an olive bar with more types of olives than I knew existed.
Guests can do their grocery shopping, grab lunch (or dinner – Russo is open until the early evening most days) and pay for everything together at the registers near the entrance. For those dining in, there’s a nice dining area with booths, tables and mini curtains to separate diners from the checkout area.
I was excited to try the pizza so I ordered two kinds: pepperoni and margherita.
The Sicilian-style pies featured a slightly thicker dough with a small crust around the edges. Both squares were end pieces so they had nice crusts.
The pepperoni pie was your basic Sicilian pizza, but I really liked the pepperoni choice. They were a little spicier and more flavorful than at some restaurants, and it made it more enjoyable.
On the margherita, I was very impressed. What looked like just a pile of mozzarella, tomato and basil actually was a delicious meal. Each ingredient was fresh and full of flavor, and even though I never had a bite with all three toppings at once, I enjoyed it from start to finish.
Across the table from me, Julie had built quite the salad for herself. Among the greens, she added carrots, mozzarella, cucumber, red pepper, pepperoni, tomato, bacon bits, croutons, tortellini pasta salad and her personal favorite, tuna salad.
Tuna salad is one of Julie’s favorite foods, and Russo has the best around, according to her expert opinion (I am not a fan of tuna or mayo so I will take her word for it).
Her eyes were a little too big for her stomach. Declaring she was getting full, Julie started skipping the salad and eating just “the good stuff.”
It’s really no surprise that the foods at the market are so good. Russo is also a wholesale distributor, supplying ingredients to Italian restaurants all around the region.
For our meals, plus a water, an iced tea, and a quart of soup to take home, we spent around $25. It was only after our lunch that we explored the market more, salivating over the bakery section with homemade cannoli, tiramisu and more desserts that we could no longer fit in our stomachs.
But now that I have finally enjoyed my first taste of Russo, I have no doubt that I will be back to enjoy even more of their Italian meals (and sweets).
Food: Very Good
1150 Bern Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610