In 2015, we paid a visit to what became one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Berks County – Basil Restaurant and Pizzeria.
Located in the village of Fritztown, just outside of Sinking Spring, Basil was headed by Chef Gianluca Longo, whose resume included stints working for Giorgio Armani’s restaurant in Milan and De Niro’s Restaurant in Miami.
The restaurant closed abruptly in April 2017, and in its place, Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant arrived. Cosa was a worthy replacement, but unfortunately it closed after less than a year.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2018, and what’s old is new again. Juliana’s is the new restaurant in town, but it’s headed by a familiar face – Chef Gianluca.
The interior of the restaurant has evolved. It’s still split into two seating areas, but they feel more cohesive, whereas before there was a distinct difference between the restaurant and the pizzeria. A bar has been added, replacing the waterfall that once adorned the dining room wall.
Juliana’s menu features a mix of classic Italian pasta dishes, pizza and sandwiches with rotating dinner specials.
We started our meal with an order of homemade ricotta balls. The cheese was rolled, baked to a light crisp on the outside, and served in the house marinara sauce.
The red sauce was nearly perfect – thick with tomatoes and just a little sweet. The ricotta melted in your mouth and worked so well with the sauce. It was an excellent starter.
Also with our meals came starter salads with choice of dressing. I enjoyed the fact that the salads were actually prepared – instead of whole cherry tomatoes and large slivers of onion, both were diced and mixed in with the greens. It wasn’t the largest salad but it was large enough with a full meal to follow.
I ordered my entree, the pasta al forno, off the special menu. The dish featured penne pasta in Bolognese sauce with soppressata (a type of salami), ham, peas and mozzarella.
I have to say, first impressions were not that impressive. The Bolognese was fine but my first bite had just ham, and it really didn’t do much for me.
Then I took a bite with the soppressata, and the whole complexion of the dish changed. The meat was packed with flavor, a spice that complemented the Bolognese perfectly. And after that first bite, the flavor stuck with me through the whole plate. The longer I ate, the more the flavors mixed and the better the dish became.
Julie ordered the tagliatelle alle Norcina off the regular dinner menu. Her pasta was tossed with pancetta (think Italian bacon) and onions in a white cream truffle sauce.
She really enjoyed her dish. Pancetta is a great addition to any pasta dish, but it starred here. The truffle sauce was a perfect partner for the salty pancetta. The pasta was homemade and cooked perfectly tender. And the shaved parmesan finished off the dish nicely.
I also want to mention the complimentary bread basket that included slices of olive loaf and toasted Italian bread served with oil and balsamic. Did we need it? No. Did we eat it all? Yes.
Our service was also very good – though there really were not many other people in the restaurant with us for our Sunday dinner. (It was the first week of pro football so I didn’t expect to have much company).
The final bill – just shy of $50 – felt right for a nice night out.
We’re happy that Juliana’s is here. Basil was a favorite of ours and our extended family and the new restaurant, while completely renovated, feels familiar.
And the food is just as good as we could have hoped.
Food: Very Good
Service: Very Good
776 Fritztown Rd
Sinking Spring, PA 19608
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