A slice of Frank white pizza, topped with ricotta, tomato and spinach

TommyBoy’s Pizza and Cafe

Main Street Kutztown featuring TommyBoy's Pizza and Cafe

Every October, Berks County Eats marks National Pizza Month by visiting pizza places across Berks County. October also is when Julie and my alma mater, Kutztown University, hosts homecoming weekend.

So what better way to celebrate both than with a visit to one of the college town’s pizza places?

TommyBoy’s Pizza and Cafe opened in the fall of 2014, taking over a space that I remembered from my time in Kutztown as the Main Street Cafe.

A Coca-Cola case behind the counter at TommyBoy's

It’s not much to look at inside. TommyBoy’s is your basic take-out place with a few tables in the front of the counter (there are two counters, actually, one that holds the pizzas for slices and one for placing orders.

We arrived around 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon and found a group of students sitting at a table for four. By the time we left a little after 1, it was full with more people calling in and picking up orders. If I remember correctly, 1 p.m. on a Sunday is breakfast for most KU students, especially on homecoming weekend.

Display pizzas behind glass at TommyBoy's

TommyBoy’s distinguishes itself from other Kutztown pizza places – and all others in the county, for that matter – with its slices. Like everyone else, slices are cut from the display pies and reheated in the oven.

Unlike everywhere else, those display pies are 30 inches around.

I may not have been a math major at Kutztown, but that means every slice is 15 inches. The slices are so large that it takes two plates to serve them.

A slice of Frank white pizza, topped with ricotta, tomato and spinach

We decided to order three slices: one for me, one for Julie, and one for us to share with Jakob. It may seem like he has an insatiable appetite sometimes, but there was no way our toddler was going to be able to finish a slice by himself.

For my slice, I ordered the Frank White, a white pizza topped with ricotta, tomatoes, spinach and garlic. It’s one of my favorite styles of pizza because I love ricotta. This was a really good version of it, if a little heavy on the garlic powder. The crust was done well – not burnt, but plenty crispy that I could actually pick up the slice and eat it like normal.

A slice of chicken bacon ranch pizza atop two plates

Julie could not say the same for her chicken bacon ranch slice, which she had to cut into smaller pieces to manage (maybe it was the extra weight of the toppings?).

It was a typical chicken bacon ranch pizza, just a lot more of it, with ranch in every bite. “Hearty,” is the word Julie used to describe it.

Of course the day that we order him a giant slice of pizza is the day that Jakob decided he wasn’t going to eat for us. Julie and I ended up eating about half of his slice of margherita pizza (they were out of plain cheese at the time we ordered and this was the next best thing).

A slice of margherita pizza cut into smaller pieces

From what I tasted, it was very good. The basil was very fragrant and was the dominant flavor, followed closely by the lightly sweet tomato sauce. I liked my own slice a little more, but that’s mostly personal preference as both were done right.

Because the slices are bigger than other pizza places, the prices are a little higher. Prices ranged from about $4 to $6 per slice. With a bottle of water and an iced tea, that brought our total to about $18. That’s still a good price for a lunch anywhere, and we certainly didn’t leave hungry.

If you’re wondering, TommyBoy’s does make normal size pizzas (14- and 16-inch round pies, 16-inch Sicilians and personal-sized gluten free pies). They also offer Stromboli, wraps, sandwiches, wings and one-third pound burgers.

TommyBoy’s wasn’t a part of our college days, but the mega slices are certainly going to be a big part – pun intended – for today’s students and the whole Kutztown community. And we were glad to get a taste.

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

TommyBoy’s Pizza & Cafe
313 W. Main St
Kutztown, PA 19530

Pizzerias Reviews
Oliverio's house special pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onion and peppers

Oliviero’s Pizzeria & Restaurant

A view of the brick facade at Oliverio's Pizzeria in Douglassville

In the first five years of Berks County Eats, we’ve seen a number of restaurants come and go, and more than once we’ve revisited old locations that now have new restaurants.

That was the case on our recent visit to Oliviero’s Pizzeria and Restaurant in Amity Township.

Oliviero’s is located in a strip mall along Route 422 just west of Douglassville. The location is a challenge for two reasons. One, it’s located along a part of 422 that is a divided highway. Two, the strip sits perpendicular to the highway with the restaurant at the far end.

Pizzas, pepperoni bites, and sweets behind the counter at Oliviero's in Douglassville

The last time I was at the location, it was Kathryn’s Grille, a short-lived BYOB that we visited in late 2017. Kathryn’s closed in early 2018. Oliviero’s debuted a few months later in July with a menu that features pizza shop standards with a few additions including a selection of Chicago deep dish pies and artisan pan pizzas. They also offer a selection of pastas, including weekly specials.

In the summer, Oliviero’s satisfies everyone’s sweet tooth with an outdoor ice cream shack and year-round with tiramisu, cannoli, cheesecake, and other sweets available in the restaurant.

Booths and tables in Oliviero's dining room

The dining area has been updated to add color. Yellow booths with wood-grain seats have replaced the dark wooden tables and vibrant posters pop against the gray walls. The space feels brighter and more inviting than it felt before.

But on this visit, I didn’t get to enjoy a sit-down meal. Instead, I was grabbing our dinner and taking it back home to Wyomissing.

It’s about a 20 minute drive (because when you have pizza in the car, you trigger every red light on 422), but the food traveled well. As hungry as Julie and I were until I got home, neither of us was as excited as our toddler who could barely contain his excitement at the sight of the pizza box.

Oliverio's house special pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onion and peppers

We ordered a medium house special pizza. It comes topped with pepperoni, sausage, onion, mushrooms and peppers. All three of us really enjoyed it.

The sauce was on the sweet side, and the use of red onions added to the overall sweetness of the dish while the pepperoni and sausage provided the savory side. I appreciated the use of thin-sliced sausage which I prefer to the ground topping at other places. The cheese was pretty standard as was the crust, but overall it was enjoyable.

A box loaded with Oliverio's French fries

We really didn’t need the fries – we had two slices of pizza left after dinner – but we couldn’t help ourselves. They were pretty good, more of the battered style fries than the fresh-cut style, and made a nice complement to the pizza.

As is the case with most pizza places, the price was right. The pizza and fries came in just under $20. It was also ready for me less than 20 minutes of calling in the order, but we had ordered a little after 4 p.m. so not their busiest time. I imagine if I had waited an hour or two, the wait would have been longer.

Oliviero’s made a very good first impression on us, and it has passed the one-year mark at this point, a milestone always worth celebrating for a restaurant.

Here’s hoping that it will anchor the strip mall for many years to come.

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

Oliviero’s Pizzeria & Restaurant
101 Park Ln
Douglassville, PA 19518

Pizzerias Reviews
A personal, 10-inch pepperoni lovers pizza from Pizza Como in Hamburg

Pizza Como

Looking at the outside Pizza Como from 5th Street in Hamburg

One of the things that I love about pizza places is that, more than any other type of restaurant, they are neighborhood places. Every town has a pizza place (or two, or three).

Hamburg has a couple places of its own, and one of those is Pizza Como.

Pizza Como can be found a block away from the downtown business district at the corner of State and 5th Streets. It’s a part of town Julie and I may have never discovered if not for a visit to the Weis Markets across the street a year ago.

(Also, don’t confuse this Pizza Como with Pizza Como on 5th Street Highway in Muhlenberg).

Booths line the sunroom at Pizza Como in Hamburg

The restaurant has a cool vintage look with a sun room dining area facing 5th Street. The wine-colored booths and hexagon floor tiles are definitely from another era (and the tiles are getting a little worn in places). There’s a small, but nice bar that was full with five customers. There were more tables and booths in between.

While there were a decent number of families dining in during our visit, there were a lot more coming and going to pick up their take-out orders. From our spot we watched a constant stream of customers entering through the front door.

A view of the dining room at Pizza Como in Hamburg

Unfortunately the restaurant seemed a little understaffed for the amount of customers. Our server was handling most (maybe all) of the tables as well as tending the bar. I also saw her answer the phone at least once. She was as attentive as she could be under the circumstances, but it took a few minutes before she stopped by to greet us and ask for our drinks.

The good thing about a pizza shop is that it doesn’t take very long to get your food, no matter what you order. We had ordered barbecue wings for an appetizer and they were out a short time later.

A plate of six barbecue wings from Pizza Como in Hamburg

The wings were cooked well but had much less sauce than most wings. It allowed the flavor of the meat to come out more (and I wasn’t quite as sticky as usual), but I did find myself wanting a little more ‘cue. Also, we weren’t offered any ranch or bleu cheese. It didn’t really bother me, and we didn’t need it, either. I just can’t remember the last time we had wings where it wasn’t offered.

We had polished off the wings fairly quickly, but we didn’t have to wait much longer for our pizzas to arrive.

Pizza Como offers individual 10-inch pizzas which was perfect because we could try two very different pies and have enough to share with our toddler as well.

A personal, 10-inch pepperoni lovers pizza from Pizza Como in Hamburg

I had ordered the pepperoni lovers pizza. Surprise, it was loaded with pepperoni so there was at least once piece in every bite. The crust was cooked perfectly – crispy, but not burnt – so that it never sagged when you picked up a piece. And despite having nearly 30 pieces of pepperoni crammed on to the pie, it didn’t feel greasy.

Overall, it was a very good, and very enjoyable pizza.

A personal, 10-inch pesto pizza from Pizza Como in Hamburg

As I mentioned, Julie and I ordered two very different pizzas. She chose the pesto pizza, which had a familiar green tint from the basil. And like a good pesto sauce, it had nice hints of garlic throughout. Like mine, the crust was done very well, exactly how it should be. Even Jakob, our almost two-year-old, approved.

We didn’t need to eat all of it, but we did. It was too good that we didn’t want to let any of it go to waste – or our fridge.

After we were finished, we had another wait, this time to get our check. I peeked around the corner and saw our server taking orders from the four guys who had just sat down at the bar. A few minutes later, she was still there, this time jotting down a phone order. Thankfully, once we had the check, I just had to pay at the counter because when a toddler is done eating, he is really done and ready to go, and I don’t know how long it would have taken to get change.

All things considered, she did an excellent job (and was great with our son), she was just stuck juggling too many tasks, which I can’t blame her for.

Our total bill, by the way, was just $21 for two pizzas and a half-dozen wings. That’s a bargain compared to a lot of places that we’ve visited.

Aside from the waiting, we had a very good experience – and some very good pizza. If we lived closer, I could see us getting take-out from Pizza Como often. And even with a little slower service, we would still dine in again if we’re in the area.

Judging by the foot traffic, a lot of locals keep coming back for more.

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

Pizza Como
501 State St
Hamburg, PA 19526

Pizzerias Reviews
A half cheese, half pepperoni pizza from Fratello's in Reading

Fratello’s Bar & Restaurant

A view of the brick facade at the entrance to Fratello's in Reading

Back in 2014 when I started Berks County Eats, the Reading Eagle ran a story about the upcoming renovation of the Big Mill, one of the buildings that made up the former Reading outlets. I was excited for the project, mostly because it was to include a new restaurant: Fratello’s Bar & Restaurant.

Then a fire broke out in October of that year and everything was put on hold. The apartments would open in 2016 with no restaurant – and honestly, I had assumed the restaurant portion of the project was dead.

Then earlier this year, Fratello’s arrived, celebrating a grand opening in April. Half a year later, and I finally had a chance to make my first visit as my friend Dennis and I headed into the city on a recent Friday night.

Fratello’s address is North 8th Street, but the main entrance – and off-street parking – is located along Nicolls Street.

Booths and tables are laid out among exposed beams inside the brick walls of Fratello's in Reading

Walking through the front door, I felt a little lost. To our left was the bar with seating for about 20. Straight ahead was the take-out counter. Hidden behind the counter was the deceptively large dining area. Booths line the walls, accompanied by a handful of tables in the center of the room.

The whole place has an industrial feel to it with brick walls and exposed beams. When we arrived, the lone TV in the room was set to cable news. After stopping by our table, our server changed the channel and turned on a video DJ station that was playing Latin pop. At some point, the music switched over to Frank Sinatra and Elvis.

Our server was attentive throughout the meal, but we were the only patrons in the dining room when we sat down. A young family came in while we were eating. Our server spoke with them in Spanish as easily as she spoke to us in English.

The restaurant has a fairly robust menu with pasta dishes, but we were there for wings and pizza.

Ten BBQ wings piled high at Fratello's in Reading

Our 10 barbecue wings were out first. The sauce was good and sweet, though nothing remarkable. The wings were meaty, well-cooked, and well-sauced. It was exactly what we were hoping for.

We hadn’t quite finished our wings before the pizza arrived. Originally I had been thinking about an individual pizza, but Dennis and I decided to split a medium – plain cheese on his half, pepperoni on mine.

A half cheese, half pepperoni pizza from Fratello's in Reading

The pizza was very good, though a little greasy. The cheese and sauce were both good. And I enjoyed the dough, which was cooked just right.

I was glad to see that even for a half pie, they didn’t skimp on the pepperoni. There wasn’t a bite without some of the salty, savory slices.

No one would mistake it for an artisan pizza like you’d find at a place like Nonno Alby’s, but it was enjoyable for what it was.

Our final total for the meal – which included my usual glass of unsweetened iced tea – was $32. It’s certainly not the cheapest pizza and wings around, but it felt right for the amount of food and was a little less than what we would have paid had we each ordered an individual pizza.

The most important thing, though, was that we enjoyed our meal.

Hopefully the good food and friendly service will keep Fratello’s in business for a lot longer than the five years they waited to open.

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

Fratello’s Bar & Restaurant
702 N. 8th St
Reading, PA 19604

Pizzerias Reviews
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 clich├ęd, 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