Pizza Time Pepperoni Pizza

Pizza Time

Pizza Time Reading PA

Every October, Berks County Eats celebrates National Pizza Month with four weeks of blogging about some of the best pizza shops around. Every year, I pencil in Pizza Time for a blog. And every year, we haven’t made it for one reason or another.

I am old enough to remember when Pizza Time had a location in Wernersville (now the site of CC’s Pizza). It was one of several pizza shops in my family’s rotation while I was growing up in western Berks County. That was 20 years ago.

Pizza Time Reading PA

Most of those who know Pizza Time probably know the Lancaster Avenue location, but I had never been there until a Sunday afternoon in March.

I browsed the menu online – pizza, sandwiches, “Fat Boy” wings, Stromboli and munchies – and was excited to be able to place an order through the website. It was a really easy process and there were several opportunities to customize my pizza, from a well-done crust to the number of slices. The order was also available for delivery or pick-up.

With Pizza Time being just five minutes away, I made the quick trip to the restaurant to pick it up and check out the restaurant.

Pizza Time Reading PA

The restaurant was smaller than I had expected. There wasn’t much space between the front door and the counter. And though it is advertised as “delivery, take-out or dine-in” there were only a couple booths if you wanted to eat in the small dining area decorated in Philly sports memorabilia.

It had been just a little more than 10 minutes since I placed my order, but both my pizza and fries were ready to go when I arrived and I was back home a short time later.

Pizza Time offers two sizes of pizza: a medium 12-inch and large 14-inch. For the medium pies, customers can choose between traditional and pan pizza.

Pizza Time Pepperoni Pizza

We chose a pan pizza with pepperoni. It was still hot when I got home and we took our first bites. The first thing we noticed was the crust. It was soft and spongy but not undercooked. It gave the pizza a different feel that we both enjoyed.

Pizza Time Pepperoni Pizza

The toppings – the cheese, sauce and pepperoni – were all good. None of them stood out, but I thought they all worked well with each other to make a very solid pie. I also appreciated the addition of the cup of garlic butter for dipping the crust.

Pizza Time Fries

We also ordered fries just to have a little something extra on the side. They were battered, crispy and golden. It’s probably my favorite style of fries. Julie noticed from her first bite that they were salty – maybe a little overly salty – but that was just one fry. The rest of the one-pound order wasn’t salty at all.

In any case, it’s hard to find fault in a $16 meal that was ready in 10 minutes.

It’s been so long since I have had Pizza Time that I can’t say how it compares to all those years ago, but it was a good meal that was very convenient. That’s the hallmark of a long-lasting pizza shop.

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

Pizza Time
640 Lancaster Ave
Reading, PA 19611

Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews
Tony's al Taglio Pizza

Tony’s al Taglio

Tony's al Taglio

West Reading has the most crowded dining scene in Berks County. As the number of restaurants continues to climb, Penn Avenue continues to evolve.

A recent loss in West Reading was Taste of Philly (formerly Mike’s Taste of Philly), which occupied a space just off Penn along Fifth Avenue. The space wasn’t vacant for long, though, as a new restaurant, Tony’s al Taglio, took root in late 2018.

Tony's al Taglio

The red awning that once featured the Philadelphia skyline has been painted black. The only marking for the new restaurant is a small sign on the door with the Tony’s al Taglio logo.

Tony's al Taglio

Inside, the only changes were to remove the Philly memorabilia from the wood-paneled walls. The tables, which feature artist renderings of The Beatles, are (I assume) leftover from when the Yellow Submarine occupied the space. (Mike’s always had tablecloths – Phillies red – on every table).

Tony's al Taglio Pizza

Every great restaurant has something that differentiates them. For Tony’s, it’s the Roman-style pizza, rectangular thin-crust pizzas that are served by the cut, not the slice. Customers can walk in, point to the pizza they want, choose how large of a slice, and the counter worker will use a shears to cut the pizza to the customer’s specifications.

Tony's al Taglio Pizza

I asked for a variety, and so the server cut a strip off each of the eight varieties and into the oven they went for a reheat. Each strip was then sliced into four squares, making them perfect for tasting all eight flavors without feeling guilty.

I was getting the order to go, taking eight different style pizzas home for Julie, Jakob and I to try.

Tony's al Taglio Pizza

The best one, in my opinion, was the Grandma Rita – a margherita-style pizza with fresh mozzarella and Parmesan, olive oil, basil and light tomato sauce. What separated it from other margherita pizzas was the addition of garlic. It just worked really well – the light, fresh flavors with the strong garlic. I would order this every time.

A close second for me was the Picante. The spicy slice started with tomato sauce and mozzarella, then heated up with hot capicola, hot soppressata and Calabrian chili oil. In addition to being spicy-hot, the meat was flavorful. I loved it, even after the heat creeped up on me at the end.

The second trip through the oven didn’t do any favors for the meatball pizza. The thin-sliced meatballs were a little tough, and I didn’t find them to be overly flavorful.

Similarly, the Bionda – white pizza – didn’t hold up well to the reheating. Topped with garlic, EVOO, Parmesan, mozzarella and fresh mozzarella, it was hard and chewy after its reheating. The flavor was good, though, and I would certainly try it fresh.

Tony's al Taglio Pizza

I did like the funghi trifolata, however. Starting with a Bionda base, it had the addition of local mushrooms, truffle cream sauce and parsley. I appreciated the use of fresh mushrooms. I thought it worked better with the white pizza base than with a red sauce, but I especially enjoyed the richness of the truffle sauce with the mushrooms.

Mushrooms were featured on two other pizza styles – the “4 Seasons” and the “Run it through the Garden.”

The garden pizza featured red sauce and mozzarella topped with mushrooms, bell peppers, olives, spinach and red onion. I loved the thick pieces of onion and the sweetness they added.

Tony's al Taglio Pizza

The 4 seasons wasn’t as big of a hit for me. A mozzarella and tomato sauce pizza topped with black olives, mushrooms, prosciutto and artichoke, the 4 seasons was one that I was really looking forward to. Unfortunately I found the olive to be overpowering, hiding the other flavors instead of enhancing them.

Our eighth and final strip was the cheese pizza – traditional pizza sauce, grated Parmesan, mozzarella and oregano. Not to sound like a broken record, but this was another one that didn’t fare too well in the reheat – the toppings on other styles really did keep the cheese from drying out during reheating. Otherwise, I thought it was good. Jakob did too as he ate half a strip of it himself.

Tony's al Taglio Rollatini

Looking at Facebook before our visit, I was drawn to another menu item that I had to try: rollatini. Looking like pinwheels of meat and cheese, the rollatini were filled with prosciutto and crescenza strachino cheese, topped with a pistachio pesto.

It was delicious, the best thing I ate. The meat and cheese were a mix of sweet and salty that was enhanced by the nutty pesto. The side of marinara dipping sauce didn’t hurt but it wasn’t necessary. These were that good.

Tony's al Taglio Tiramisu

There was also homemade tiramisu in the case, and I couldn’t pass on that. I was told that it was made that morning and that tiramisu gets better the longer it sits. I was also told there was no judgment if we couldn’t wait to eat it. Most can’t.

Full disclosure. I’m not much of a coffee person. That said, I’ve also enjoyed tiramisu. But I’ve never tasted one with as much coffee as this one. It was a little much for my tastes, but it might have been because I had my slice from the end. Julie enjoyed her slice and didn’t seem to taste as much coffee as I had.

Tony's al Taglio Tiramisu

When I was picking out everything, I was getting nervous about the final bill. When I found out it was only $22 and change, I was thrilled.

In addition to pizzas, Tony’s al Taglio also serves arincini (deep-fried risotto balls) that I am anxious to try. There are also an assortment of Philly-style sandwiches, including cheesesteaks, Italian hoagies and a chicken cutlet sandwich.

And I hope I have the opportunity to try them all because Tony’s will definitely be in my takeout rotation going forward.

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

Tony’s al Taglio
449 Penn Ave
West Reading, PA 19611

Dessert Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews
Sal's Pizza Style Stromboli Pizza

Sal’s Pizza Style

Sal's Pizza Style

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.

Sal's Pizza Style

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.

Sal's Pizza Style

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.

Sal's Pizza Style Stromboli Pizza

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.

Sal's Pizza Style Stromboli Pizza

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?

Sal's Pizza Style Stromboli Pizza

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.

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

Sal’s Pizza Style Inc.
401 E. 1st St
Birdsboro, PA 19508

Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews
Blue Marsh Italian Restaurant Margherita Pizza

Blue Marsh Italian Restaurant

Blue Marsh Italian Restaurant

When it comes to meals for Berks County Eats, I’ve found that some of best meals are the ones that are unplanned. They are the places we go on the spur of the moment or out of necessity.

Recently, we had to make a trip to the Berks County Recycling Center to drop off some old electronics. The Recycling Center is located near the new Reading Fairgrounds and Berks Heim. There are no restaurants in the immediate area, but there a few that are nearby on Route 183, including Plum Creek Farm (which we visited in July) and the Blue Marsh Italian Restaurant.

Blue Marsh Italian Restaurant – formerly the Blue Marsh Canteen – is owned and operated by the same group as Gino’s Cafe and Gino’s Grille in Shillington.

Last year, we paid a visit to Gino’s Grille to try their new wood-fired pizza. It was a good, but slow meal. The menu at Blue Marsh had some similarities so it seemed like a good place to try, especially being just five minutes away.

Blue Marsh Italian Restaurant

We arrived around 11:30 a.m. for an early lunch. When Jakob is along, we try to eat early so he doesn’t become too much of a distraction (or nuisance) to other patrons. Having the dining room to ourselves is just fine with us.

Apparently we were the earliest Saturday customers ever for our server Kailey. She told us that she has never really had anyone before 2:30.

While there are a lot of Italian dinner options, the menu does lend itself well for lunch, especially with the sandwich selections.

Blue Marsh Italian Restaurant Chicken Caprese Sandwich

Julie ordered a small hot chicken Caprese sandwich. It came topped with mozzarella, tomato, chicken, basil and balsamic vinegar.

The sandwich was very good, from the toasted roll to the fresh basil leaves, it had good flavor throughout. It was exactly what she expected out of a Caprese salad-inspired sandwich.

And it was the perfect size for lunch. Served with chips, it was light but filling.

Craving a good pizza, I ordered a small (12-inch) margherita pizza, knowing that I wouldn’t finish the whole pie during lunch.

Blue Marsh Italian Restaurant Margherita Pizza

Margherita pizza is a personal favorite of mine. The fresh mozzarella – not shredded – along with tomato and basil make a delicious combination. And the sparse toppings allow me to taste every ingredient for what it is.

I was very impressed. The sauce was delicious, a little on the sweet side. The mozzarella was nicely spread out on the pie. I was surprised by the sliced tomatoes. It’s not uncommon on margherita pizza, but I’ve found more crushed tomato on the pies I’ve tasted around Berks. I certainly didn’t mind it either.

I found the crust to be solid as well, crispy around the edges but not burnt. The slices did sag when picked up, though. But I have zero complaints about the flavor.

I also have no complaints about the price. For the pizza, sandwich and a glass of iced tea, it was only $20 and change. That’s not bad at all for what turned out to be a private dining experience.

And while no one else joined us in the dining room, there were plenty of takeout orders and even a few customers that made their way to the bar located on the other side of the building.

If we find ourselves in the area again, I could easily see us making another stop.

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

Blue Marsh Italian Restaurant
5035 Bernville Rd
Bernville, PA 19506

Italian Pizzerias Reviews

Sophia’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria

Sophia's Restaurant & Pizzeria is located in a former gas station just east of Reading, Pa.

Every October, Berks County Eats celebrates #NationalPizzaMonth by enjoying as many of our region’s best pizza places as possible.

I look forward to it every year, but I also dread it. Not because I expect to find bad pizza. On the contrary. I dread it because there will be at least one restaurant that impresses me so much that I wish we had enjoyed a full meal.

That’s what we found on our recent visit to Sophia’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria in St. Lawerence.

Sophia’s gets great reviews online for everything, but we tempered expectations before arriving. I mean, the location is a former gas station. It’s not like there was a legacy of culinary excellence before Sophia’s arrived.

The exterior gives away the building’s history. The large glass windows are unmistakably gas station.

Inside Sophia's Restaurant & Pizzeria, Reading, PA.

Inside, it’s a completely different story. The left half of the building has been transformed into a take-out counter and kitchen. The right half is a surprisingly spacious seating area dotted with more tables than I would have thought could fit inside the building. (And it’s much cleaner than any gas station I have ever seen).

The owners obviously put a lot of time and effort into transforming the space. Sitting down at a booth along the wall, it didn’t feel like a converted space. It felt like a nice Italian restaurant.

It was a busy Friday night, and while the booths were mostly full, there was still plenty of seating at the tables in the center of the room. A few other couples had arrived just before us so there was a brief wait before our waitress stopped at the table. On the plus side, we had plenty of time to decide what we wanted so we could place our food and drink orders at the same time.

Guests can choose from a menu of 17 pizzas (plus Stromboli, subs, paninis, Italian dinners and more), and it was a tough choice for me as I debated in my head, finally deciding on a personal-sized grandma pizza.

Grandma Pizza from Sophia's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, Reading, PA.

Grandma pizza is one of my favorites though it’s not available at every pizza place in the county. Sophia’s version features garlic, mozzarella cheese, black pepper, dried hot pepper and a light tomato sauce. When done right, it’s everything that’s great about pizza but in better proportions.

And this was done right.

The sauce was delicious, and every bite with it was sweet and delightful. Those bites without the sauce were like eating the best garlic bread. And every now and then, the red pepper snuck up and surprised me.

I was really impressed and very happy with my decision.

The Spanako pizza from Sophia's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, Reading, Pa.

For her 10-inch pie, Julie went with the spanako, a white pizza with distinct Greek influences. It included your basic white pizza ingredients: mozzarella cheese, garlic, spinach and tomato. But what took this to another level was the last two toppings: feta cheese and Kalamata olive.

I’m used to white pizza with ricotta, but the feta was a great choice. The softer cheese gives the pie a different texture than the mozzarella.

We were both a little skeptical about the olives. Neither of us are a fan of the more familiar black olives that are used on pizza. But the Kalamata olives were on a different level. They burst with a mild vinegar flavor that brought the whole dish together. I still wouldn’t order black olives on a pizza, but we both agree that we would get this again.

Of course I can never go out for pizza and not order a side. Wanting something that worked as both an appetizer and a snack, I ordered the Old Bay fries.

Old Bay fries from Sophia's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, Reading, Pa.

They are exactly what they sound like – fresh cut (I had the option of fresh cut or “regular”) fries loaded with Old Bay. The fries arrived about 15 minutes before the pizzas so I had to restrain myself from eating the entire basket. It wasn’t easy because the fries were super addictive. They may have had little too much Old Bay, but I’d rather that than not enough.

Side salad from Sophia's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, Reading, Pa.

Julie also needed a little something to hold her over until our pizzas, but she was more health conscious than I was and ordered a side salad. It was nothing exciting – just lettuce, cucumber and tomato with a packet of Ken’s ranch dressing – but it hit the spot.

Garlic bread from Sophia's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, Reading, PA.

On top of everything else, our waitress also dropped off a basket of garlic bread. I would love to talk about them, but I can’t. While they looked great, and we wanted to eat them, we decided to abstain knowing the pizza was yet to come. So we brought them home with us, but we have not, as of this writing, had a chance to eat them yet.

Can you tell it was October?

Can you tell it was October?

Along with the garlic bread, we also brought home three slices of pizza and a little less than half of the fries. So for our $26, we each got more than a couple meals.

Those meals were impressive, too. Sophia’s delivered in a way that we did not expect.

It’s not going to be hard to go back again, but it’s going to be hard to not get the same thing again next time.

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

Sophia’s Restaurant & Pizzeria
3150 St. Lawrence Ave
Reading, PA 19606

Sophia's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews
Pepperoni Pizza from Paolo's Restaurant and Bar in Shillington

Paolo’s Restaurant & Bar

Paolo's Pizza in Shillington

As Berks County Eats continues on a #NationalPizzaMonth journey across Berks County, I am looking for the best and the biggest pizza places around.

Paolo’s Restaurant and Bar just may be the biggest.

Driving past the restaurant along Lancaster Pike, you don’t get a proper sense for the scale of the building. Entering into the take-out counter, we were led to a booth in the back corner of a spacious dining room.

The decor was a bit clichéd, just another Italian restaurant only larger. A doorway opened into the bar area, itself a spacious dining area with even more seating. And with unseasonably warm temperatures, the outdoor patio was also in full swing.

If I totaled up all of the tables in the restaurant, Paolo’s has to be among the largest capacities in the county.

The salad bar at Paolo's in Shillington.

Julie and I arrived hungry for our dinner and needed something to hold us over until our pizzas would arrive. Opting to go light for our appetizer, we both made trips to the salad bar.

We had passed the salad bar – and its the three rows of ingredients, add-ons and dressings – on the way to our table, and it looked appealing enough.

A simple salad.

I built a rather simple salad with broccoli, cucumber, red onion and ranch dressing. Skipping on the vegetables, Julie loaded her salad with cheese, pasta salad, bacon bits and ranch dressing (with a few cherry tomatoes for show).

Julie's salad from Paolo's

All of the ingredients were fresh – not always the case at salad bars – so we were pleased.

The pizza was up after about 20 minutes, good timing because we had just finished our salads. And both pies looked amazing.

Julie and I each ordered personal 12-inch pies knowing that we would be taking some home with us when our meal was finished.

Pepperoni Pizza from Paolo's Restaurant and Bar in Shillington

As much as I love trying foods that are unique and inspired, I love pepperoni pizza. And there was a lot to love with Paolo’s version.

It was a beautiful pie with a crisp, but not overcooked, crust. It was a little on the greasy side, but it should be. It’s a pepperoni pizza after all.

There was also a generous amount of pepperoni, enough that most bites were popping with that salty, savory flavor. Overall, it was a great pie, and one that I would happily order again.

White Pizza from Paolo's Restaurant and Bar in Shillington

Julie went with a “lighter” pie, a white pizza with broccoli. It was good, but not my style. I much prefer white pizza with ricotta, not mozzarella. It’s a richer, more flavorful cheese. For me, this pizza lost something in the cheese.

As predicted, several slices were leftover when we were finished. Julie enjoyed them for lunch later in the week. Despite getting multiple meals out of our food, the $40 price tag felt expensive.

Our one-time trips to the salad bar were $6 each. That’s a lot for just salad, even if it is build-your-own. We could have saved $2 each by ordered side salads, but the extra cost seemed worth it for making them to our liking.

I was impressed by my first visit to Paolo’s. And clearly many other people are impressed, too. With as many seats and as much parking as the restaurant has, it’s clear that the business has built up a loyal following.

Add two more to the list of satisfied customers after our visit.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: A Little Pricey

Paolo’s Restaurant & Bar
2480 Lancaster Pk
Reading, PA 19607

Paolo's Restaurant Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews
The Aime pizza was topped with gorgonzola, prosciutto, caramelized onions and figs.

Gino’s Grille Wood-Fired Pizza & Bar

The entrance to Gino's Grille in Shillington

Thanks to writing this blog every week, I am always on the look-out for things that are new and exciting.

While Gino’s Grille isn’t new – the restaurant opened a year ago – they did have something new to offer: wood-fired pizza debuted on the menu in late August, and we couldn’t wait to try it.

The building along Lancaster Avenue in Shillington was most recently home to a second location for Bella’s Subs and Pizza. That closed a few years ago, and Gino’s opened in its place.

Gino's started serving wood-fired pizza in August 2017

When we arrived, the parking lot was full, but we found one of the final two spots. Upon entering, we were escorted to one of the last remaining tables in a crowded dining room.

Our waitress warned us that the kitchen was backed up, but we had our hearts set on trying Gino’s new wood-fired pizzas.

The oven was new for Gino’s, and the pizzas had only been added to the menu about a week before our visit. The menu includes 24 artisanal pies, from simple margherita to non-traditional varieties, like the Pittsburgh – topped with French fries, burger, eggs and mozzarella.

Julie and I each ordered our own pie with side salads, hoping to tame our appetites, at least temporarily.

It took 20 minutes to get the salad, and some of the lettuce had started to turn brown.

We knew it was going to be a long night when our salads took nearly 20 minutes to arrive. There wasn’t anything special about the salads, just your normal greens with tomatoes and croutons. The lettuce itself wasn’t the freshest as the tips on many pieces had begun to turn brown. It wasn’t rotten, but it’s not a good look for any restaurant.

The wait was excruciating. Thank goodness for the salads because without them, I don’t know how we would have been able to make it without going next door to the Arby’s drive-thru.

It was more than an hour from the time we arrived before our pizza was delivered to the table. Because of the high temperatures, wood-fired ovens can generally cook a pizza in less than five minutes.

Clearly the kitchen was just unprepared for a full dining room.

The Aime pizza was topped with gorgonzola, prosciutto, caramelized onions and figs.

But the pizzas did arrive, and we excitedly dug into them. For me, I opted for the Aime Special, a unique topping combination with fig, gorgonzola, prosciutto and caramelized onions.

It’s unlike any other pizza that I have tried – that’s why I ordered it – but the first bite was jarring. It was all gorgonzola. Very strong gorgonzola. On its own, it’s not the most pleasant taste.

Thankfully, it got better from there. Once I was able to get a little fig and some of the prosciutto, it made it all the difference.

The fig and prosciutto are a sweet-and-salty match made in heaven, one that cut through the pungent gorgonzola. Together, it made for an excellent flavor. But when one or both of those ingredients were missing, and the cheese was left by itself, it was way too powerful for me.

If you really like gorgonzola, I recommend the Aime special. I’ll be ordering something else next time.

Julie went with a more conventional unconventional pizza (if that makes any sense) with her chicken bacon ranch pie. While you likely won’t find this in the Old World, it’s a common site on menus around Berks.

Look at tall that ranch dressing

Chunks of chicken breast meat and large bacon crumbles were topped with a pool of ranch dressing.

That pool of dressing was not uniform across the pie – parts of it had more ranch, parts of it less. But when all three came together (with the mozzarella base), it was a very good pie. The creamy ranch mixed with the crispy, salty bacon was very enjoyable. The chicken was good, but didn’t add much in the way of flavor.

Julie's more conventional chicken bacon ranch pieOne thing that I will say about both pies is that the crust didn’t feel like the wood-fried pizza. It was fine, but lacked that distinct char on the bottom. It was also inconsistent around the edges with one side being more well-done than the other, probably because the kitchen was too overwhelmed to give it the proper attention throughout its time in the oven.

As usual, 12-inch pies sound smaller than they really are so we took home half a pie each. It also meant we paid for two meals, with a total bill that was around $30.

I have to note that our waitress was as accommodating as she could be given the circumstances. We were offered free dessert at the end of the meal for our troubles, but declined – partly because we were now very full, partly because we had already stayed longer than we had hoped.

By the time we paid the bill and were out the door, we had spent an hour-and-a-half at the restaurant. For a nice two- or three-course dinner, that’s not bad. For pizza, it felt like an eternity.

I’m not going to blacklist Gino’s based on one visit. The wood-fired pizza was still very new when we visited. But we still left feeling disappointed in our experience.

Will we go back? Sure.

But we’ll be waiting a while.

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

Gino’s Grille Wood-Fired Pizza & Bar
2233 Lancaster Pk
Shillington, PA 19607

Gino's Grille Wood-Fired Pizza & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews

Snuzzles

Every time that I think I have seen all of Berks County, this blog takes me somewhere new.

One place that I had never thrown into my GPS before this week is Mertztown. It’s a small “census-designated place” in eastern Berks County near Topton, almost at the Lehigh County border.

And I would never have a reason to go if not for one restaurant: Snuzzles.

Snuzzles’ address is Mertztown, but it’s much closer to Lyons, Bowers and Dryville. If you have no idea where those places are, just throw it in the GPS like I did.

I knew we had arrived when I saw the crowded parking lot along Lyons Road. There is no sign because, as the website says, “if you’re here, this was your destination, its not like you were driving by.”

Valid point.

The dining room is one of the largest in Berks County. There are dozens of tables and booths spread out on the tile floor. Oh, and there’s a second level with even more seating.

And there was still a wait for a table when we arrived. We were lucky though, grabbing the only table for two that was left, jumping the line of parties of three, four or more that were sitting in the waiting area.

The decor is minimalistic, leaving customers to admire the wooden tables, wooden booths and wood paneled walls.

It’s a stark contrast to the colorful menu – a veritable rainbow of fonts and clip art that is both enduring and cheesy.

Cheesy isn’t a bad way to go for a restaurant that specializes in pizza, Stromboli and sandwiches.

And that’s really the entirety of the menu, but it doesn’t begin to describe it. There are croissant sandwiches (including shrimp salad, a creation I have not come across before). Stromboli stuffings include the South of the Border with refried beans, salsa and cheddar. Oh, and there’s a clams casino pizza.

We went for a Stromboli and an order of fries (as an appetizer).

The fries are thick, steak-cut fries. And for fifty cents, you can add a dipping sauce. That’s good because the fries aren’t much on their own. Really, they don’t taste much different than the Ore-Ida steak fries you would find in the freezer section.

Julie was extremely glad to have her cheese sauce for dipping.

We were also very glad to have ordered the fries as an appetizer because dinner took a long time to arrive. We had been seated at about 6 p.m. Our Stromboli arrived around 7. (It seemed to only be Strombolis that were taking so long as sandwiches were brought to other tables much faster).

I don’t know if this is a normal wait time, but on this busy Saturday evening, an appetizer was necessary.

That said, the Stromboli was worth the wait. We went with the chick-otta: chicken, mozzarella, provolone, tomato sauce and ricotta with an extra sauce for dipping.

First, it’s huge. I’ve never seen a Stromboli so puffed in the center. It was hard to cut into because it was so hot from the oven, but once we got in, the cheese just started oozing out.

What really brings it all together is Snuzzles’ super pizza sauce (their name, not mine). It’s sweet with a bright herby flavor that brings out the best in the remaining ingredients. The chicken, especially, came to life with a bath in the red sauce.

Half of it came home with us. For curiosity’s sake, I weighed the bag with the Stromboli half and extra sauce inside: two pounds of food still remained.

And we only paid $25 for everything. That’s $25 cash because Snuzzles does not accept credit cards. Judging by the crowd during our visit, they clearly don’t have to.

Snuzzles is what you would call destination dining. Because if you’re going to the Mertztown area, you are probably going to Snuzzles.

A lot of people are already going there. And now I understand why.

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

Snuzzles
145 Lyons Road
Mertztown, PA 19539

Snuzzle's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars & Pubs Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews

Sebastiano’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria

sebastiano-s-exterior

You could divide all of the restaurants in Berks County into two categories: those that strive to attract out-of-towners and those that cater to the locals.

My goal with Berks County Eats is to find the best of both. And one place that kept popping up as a local favorite is Sebastiano’s in Reiffton, a small Italian restaurant in a strip mall along Perkiomen Avenue.

I had heard good things about Sebastiano’s, but had also heard about the limited parking and seating. The parking lot was almost full when we arrived, but there was spaces.

There were no tables, however, but thankfully there was only one other group ahead of us. Because of the lack of space, there’s no hostess stand. Instead, a clipboard hung on the wall with a sign above that said “sign in.”

This was a first.

sebastiano-s-interior

It honestly didn’t take long to be seated, only a few minutes before we were sat at one of about 15 tables.

Sebastiano’s could not fit another table in the room as space was tight between myself and the gentleman sitting at the table behind me.

Our waitress took our orders and offered us either a cup of soup or the salad bar with our meals. We both went salad bar (New Year’s resolutions).

sebastiano-s-salad-bar

Salad bars feel like they belong more in a diner than an Italian restaurant, but I rolled with it. There was a nice selection, not overwhelming that included all the standards plus a few surprises like roasted red peppers.

While Julie and I worked through our salads, our waitress dropped off our garlic bread – six small slices of an Italian roll (the Conshohocken Italian Bakery boxes gave away the source). One of the slices was a little burnt, but the rest were good.

sebastiano-s-garlic-bread

Our wait to be seated hadn’t been long, but the wait for our food felt like an eternity for two hungry eaters. It was about 45 minutes from the time that we ordered until our entrees arrived.

In that time, we watched several tables empty and fill up and countless people come through to pick up their takeout orders. (Our waitress had stopped by once to top off our drinks).

When they did arrive, they were piping hot (a relief because for a brief moment we were afraid our dinners were just sitting on a table in the back waiting for someone to find them).

sebastiano-s-pasta-ala-sebastiano

For my entree, I chose rigatoni with sauce ala Sebastiano’s, a red sauce with ground beef, bacon, mushrooms and cream.

I liked it, but I think it would have been better with a little more bacon. Every bite with the bacon had a nice smoky flavor that I thought really added to the dish. Without it, it was good, but essentially a rosé sauce with a few add-ins.

sebastiano-s-meatballs

Not wanting to stop there, I had also ordered a side of Sebastiano’s “famous” meatballs. This was easily the best thing that either of us ate. The meatballs were well seasoned and cooked perfectly. I wouldn’t say they were the best that I have ever had, but I would definitely get them again.

sebastiano-s-egglpant-parmesan

For her meal, Julie opted for eggplant Parmesan with angel hair pasta. The eggplant was very good and very tender. It was sliced lengthwise so as to create long slices and instead of smaller, rounder ones.

The red sauce, the same as what used on the meatballs, was good – better with a little Parmesan cheese.

One thing that I have to say, Sebastiano’s does not skimp on the portions. Our meals left no room for dessert, and we each took half of our dinners home with us. And our total bill was only $25.

Sebastiano’s definitely has a loyal following among locals. There were many times when the waitress or the counter workers stopped talked to customers like family. Customers greeted each other as long-time friends, too.

They were friendly to us as well and served us a good meal. It’s not high-end Italian, but that’s not really the point. It’s a local pizza place and Italian restaurant with good food.

And that’s all it needs to be.

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

Sebastiano’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria
3227 Perkiomen Ave
Reading, PA 19606

Sebastiano's Italian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews

Georgio’s Pizzeria

georgio-s-pizzeria

Last week, I asked my Facebook fans where to go for some great pizza to close out National Pizza Month 2016.

I got some great suggestions including Paradise by the Slice (visited in 2014) and Mama’s in Wyomissing (visited the Spring Township location last year).

And then there were some fervent supporters of Georgio’s Pizzeria in West Reading.

With an unseasonably warm weekend, a walk to West Reading sounded like a great idea.

Georgio’s sits on the corner of Fifth and Penn Avenues at the eastern end of West Reading’s busiest block.

This weekend, everyone had their outdoor seating open so after we placed our order at the counter, we grabbed a table on the sidewalk outside and waited for our lunch.

It didn’t take long for our two slices and garlic knots to be delivered.

georgio-s-capri-pizza

For my slice, I went with the Capri pizza. It’s a white pizza with one of my favorite topping combinations: ricotta and mozzarella cheeses with spinach, tomato, broccoli, red onion and basil.

I love ricotta on pizza and the cheese blend here was perfect. And I have never figured out why, but broccoli just goes perfect with white pizza. Add on some fresh tomatoes and just a hint of onion, and this was one good slice.

The crust was crispy from the second trip through the oven, but I was happy to have a cup of marinara sauce from our garlic knots to use for dipping.

georgio-s-garlic-knots

The garlic knots themselves had more garlic than any others that I have tried. The bottom of our aluminum foil was still lined with minced garlic when we were finished with our order of four.

I love garlic. If you don’t, I’d suggest finding another app or side.

georgio-s-cheeseteak-stuffed-pizza

Julie’s slice of stuffed cheesesteak pizza had a Philly flair to it with a yellow streak of Cheez Whiz across the top.

Inside, it was filled with lots of delicious steak meat and a little mozzarella.

georgio-s-cheesesteak-stuffed-pizza-2

With the stuffed pizza comes the thick, fancy crust. Unfortunately Julie left that behind.

Note: the pizza was not on our paper menu or on the website. In fact, there are no stuffed pizzas listed so this may have been a special for today.

Like all great pizzerias, Georgio’s was fast and reasonably priced. For two slices, four garlic knots and two Icy Teas, our total was just $14.

There are a lot of places to get a good pizza in West Reading, and Georgio’s is certainly near the top of the list.

And I’m definitely glad to our Facebook fans for the reminder.

A special thank-you to Facebook fans Paul Bender and Noralee Morales for the suggestion.

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

Georgio’s Pizzeria
500 Penn Ave
West Reading, PA 19611

Georgios New York Style Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews