Juliana's Ricotta Balls

5 Favorite Appetizers of 2018

Our annual end-of-year tradition continues as we take a look back on the best things we tried this year. Today: our five favorite appetizers of 2018.

Savory Grille Steak Grilled Flatbread

Flatbread – Savory Grille

Savory Grille’s menu is constantly evolving and that means new appetizers, entrees and desserts on every meal. During our first visit to northeastern Berks’ fine dining destination in January, the appetizers included an incredible flatbread topped with steak, fennel frond pesto, shaved manchego and fig compote. It was sweet, savory, salty, creamy, earthy and all around delicious. Read Full Review

Shredded Pork Rolls - Lang Restaurant

Shredded Pork Roll – Lang

The former Hong Thanh is back in its original downtown Reading location with a new name but the same amazing food. On our first visit to the Sixth Street location, we were extremely impressed with everything – my vermicelli bowl and Julie’s crispy lo mein included – but it’s the shredded pork rolls, served with the house Lang sauce, that make our best-of list for 2018. Read Full Review

Juliana's Ricotta Balls

Ricotta Balls – Juliana’s

Juliana’s ricotta balls looked like a pair of snowballs sitting on top of a bed of red sauce. The mounds of cheese were rolled and baked to a crisp, but with a melt-in-your-mouth creaminess that made for an excellent first impression. Read Full Review

Fork & Ale Uovo da Raviolo

Uova De Raviolo – Fork & Ale

Everything that we tasted on our return visit to Fork & Ale was creative and flavorful. The uova de raviolo – or egg yolk ravioli – was no exception. As soon as I pierced the pasta with my fork, the egg yolk began pouring out, mixing on the plate with the sage butter sauce to add more depth to the sauce. With creamy ricotta inside the pasta and salty, savory bacon and bitter chard on top, it was an incredible mix of texture and taste. Read Full Review

Coconut Chicken Soup – Masa

Masa – the hibachi and sushi bar that replaced Hong Thanh in the Target shopping center in Wyomissing – had some very impressive dishes, first among those for me was the coconut chicken soup. It featured a creamy, flavorful broth, but the addition of cherry tomatoes set it apart from other versions of the same dish. Read Full Review

Appetizers Best of Berks County Eats

5 Favorite Appetizers of 2017

Every December, we take a look back at our favorite dishes of the past year. We’re starting off with our favorite starters. Here are our five favorite appetizers we tried in 2017.

Stonersville Hotel – Baked Tomato and Mushroom Soup

The Stonersville Hotel was a pleasant surprise, and it started with a cup of their baked tomato and mushroom soup. It was served like a French onion soup, in a crock covered with mozzarella cheese. The tomato and mozzarella came together nicely in one of the best soups that I have tried on my Berks County Eats journey. Read Full Review

Say Cheese – Cheddar Beer Soup

Speaking of delicious soups, Say Cheese had a fantastic offering with its cheddar beer soup. The two namesake ingredients were the obvious stars, and the flavors were only enhanced by the oversized croutons and the small, salty bits of bacon. Read Full Review

Fork & Ale – Poutine

In July, I attended a conference in Quebec City and tasted true French Canadian poutine. Four months earlier I had poutine at Fork & Ale. In this case, Berks County did it better. The “gravy” – a sausage tomato sauce – was amazing, and the fries made a perfect stand-in for spaghetti in the Italian-inspired take on the dish. Read Full Review

Pike Cafe – Wings

The Pike Cafe has won many “best of” awards for wings, and in our first visit, we got it. The Pike uses Bell & Evans organic wings so they are a little smaller than some other wings, but it also meant that they were crispier and more evenly seasoned throughout. We had Montreal seasoning on ours, and we loved every bite. Read Full Review

Nirvana Indian Bistro – Samosas

When Nirvana Indian Bistro opened in Wyomissing in spring, we wondered how it would be able to compete with the already established Laxmi’s right down the street. It turns out, they are just as good. Our first taste of Nirvana were the samosas, fried pastries filled with vegetables and potatoes. They were good, but when paired with the chutney selections – specifically the sweet and spicy onion chutney – they were delicious. Read Full Review

 

Appetizers Best of Berks County Eats

5 Favorite Appetizers of 2016

Every December, we take a look back at our favorite dishes of the past year. We’re starting off with our favorite starters. Here are our five favorite appetizers we tried in 2016.

Gatsby’s at Sunnybrook Ballroom – French Onion Soup

gatsby-s-french-onion-soup

On a roadtrip to Gatsby’s, there was much to enjoy, including the French onion soup. In my review, I called it some of the best French onion soup that I have ever tried. I still hold to that statement and have not found any better since. Read Review

Let’s Taco Bout It – Holy Guacamole and Cheeps

let-s-taco-bout-it-chips-and-guacamole

I love guacamole. Julie loves guacamole. We all love guacamole. Especially the “Holy Guacamole and Cheeps” from Let’s Taco Bout It in West Reading. The perfect blend of avocado, cilantro, onion and red peppers, our only complaint was that we were left wanting more. Read Review

Liberty Taproom – Dr. Pepper Wings

liberty-taproom-dr-pepper-bbq-wings

Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce is my weakness. OK, I have many weaknesses, but that doesn’t change the fact that I absolutely love Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce, especially on our wings at Liberty Taproom. It was a great start to a surprisingly good meal. Read Review

Van Reed Inn – Chipotle Ranch Wings

van-reed-inn-chipotle-ranch-wings

Van Reed Inn touts some of the best wings in Berks County. They’re meaty and delicious, especially the chipotle ranch version that Julie and I tried on our visit earlier this year. For us, they struck the right balance between the heat of the chipotle and the creaminess of the ranch. Read Review

Windsor Inn at Shillington – Meatballs

windsor-inn-meatballs

It wasn’t just that the meatballs were delicious (they were) or that the sauce was as good as any pasta sauce around (it was), but it was the addition of the fresh Parmesan cheese and housemade red pepper flakes that put this over the top. Read Review

Appetizers Features Stories

5 Favorite Appetizers of 2015

December is a time to look back and reflect on the year that was. Berks County Eats is taking a look back at the best of the best from more than 50 restaurants that we visited in 2015. This week: Our Top Five Favorite Appetizers. 

Appetizers are the perfect answer when you just can’t wait for dinner. Whether it’s a light salad, a fried snack or a hearty soup, a great app is the best way to start any night out. Here are our favorite appetizers we found in 2015:

Heirloom – Red Quinoa Salad

red-quinoa-salad-heirloom

When I visited Heirloom, I described the red quinoa salad as “Hands down, this was the best salad I have ever eaten.” That was eleven months ago, and I haven’t found anything that comes close. Every ingredient was fresh and worked well together, but it was the creamy chèvre that brought the whole thing. Read Full Blog

White Palm Tavern – Pretzellas

white-palm-tavern-pretzellas

Mozzarella sticks are usually nothing special, but White Palm Tavern put a memorable twist on theirs, using crushed up pretzels as the breading. The salty snacks were a great way to start our meal. Read Full Blog

Tavern on Penn – Fried Cheese Curds

tavern-on-penn-fried-cheese-curds

Another cheesey favorite from this year were the fried cheese curds at West Lawn’s Tavern on Penn. Instead of marinara, the fried pieces were served with roasted red pepper sauce that was just about perfect. Read Full Blog

Plein Air – Beet Soup

plein-air-chilled-beet-soup

Soup is one of my favorite starters, but chilled beet soup is one that I hadn’t tried before my visit to Plein Air this summer. With its bright purple color, the beet soup was one of the most vibrant looking dishes I tried all year, and it had the flavor to match. The dill helped sweeten the slight sourness of the beets in what was a creamy, smoothie-like dish. Read Full Blog

La Abuela – Flautas

la-abuela-flautas

One of Berks County’s newest restaurants delivered a memorable dish on my first visit. The flautas at La Abuela in West Reading were superb. The fried tacos were topped with homemade salsa, queso fresco, Pico de Gallo and sour cream. I could have eaten them as the main course and been fully satisfied. Read Full Blog

Appetizers Features Stories

5 Favorite Appetizers of 2014

December is a time to look back and reflect on the year that was. Berks County Eats is taking a look back at the best of the best from more than 50 restaurants and 10 festivals we visited in 2014. This week: Our Top Five Favorite Appetizers. 

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. For a foodie, that means the first taste you get at a restaurant is usually an appetizer. Here’s a look back to our five favorite appetizers we tried in the past year:

IMG_3347

Fried Hot Peppers – Mom Chaffe’s Cellarette

Unique is almost always better when it comes to appetizers and I don’t think I had anything more unique than the Italian fried hot peppers at Mom Chaffe’s Cellarette. Pan-fried chile peppers served atop a bed of Mozzarella, tomatoes and lettuce were well-worth the few extra TUMS I had to take that night. The hot and creamy appetizer was infinitely better than an ordinary jalapeno popper.

lamb-sausage-flatbread-emily-s

Lamb Sausage Flatbread – Emily’s

There was so much to love about this dish, from the crispy base to the chunks of spicy lamb to the blend of Fortina and Mozzarella cheese to the caramelized onions. But what really brought this together was the red currant sauce which took what would have been delicious already and gave it a sweet, berry flavor that brought everything together to create a perfect starter.

bowers-hotel-pierogies-au-speck

Pierogies au Schpeck – Bowers Hotel

Pierogies are a great side dish, but how do you turn them into an amazing appetizer? Wrap them in bacon, deep fry them, and serve them atop a bed of sour cream, chives and sautéed onions. The result was less a pierogi, and more a loaded potato with fried dough. I savored every crunchy bite of this beautiful creation.

sausage-diavolo-pizza-viva

Sausage Diavolo Flatbread – Viva Bistro & Lounge

The second flatbread dish on our list was completely different from the first, but just as delicious. Viva’s sausage diavolo flatbread was more of a traditional pizza served atop the thin, crispy crust. Topped with chunks of sausage, strips of red peppers and more cheese than the plate could handle, I could have stopped the meal right there and been very happy.

sweet-potatos-rings-willoughby-s

Sweet Potato and Pub Rings – Willoughby’s Bar & Grill

If you’re ordering an appetizer at a bar and grill, fried food is almost mandatory. The sweet potato fries and onion rings combination at Willoughby’s was one of the best fried appetizers I have found. It’s a good dish that was made great by the sweet maple dipping sauce. The only downside was I couldn’t stop eating them, as the two of us were sharing enough for four people. (Note: Willoughby’s has changed their menu and sweet potato fries have been removed. Pub rings are still available as a stand alone appetizer).

Appetizers Features Stories