exterior of Zia Maria in Denver, PA

Adamstown is so close to us that it feels like it should be in Berks County. It’s only 12 miles from the city of Reading and more than double that to Lancaster, yet it resides just over the county line.

It’s famous for its antique markets, drawing dealers and shoppers from all around to peruse the aisles of dozens of stores.

And when you’re in town, you have to eat. On our visit to town, that meant a stop at Zia Maria Eatery & Pub.

Zia Maria doesn’t feel like an Italian restaurant. The dining room, at least the one we were in, lacks a certain vibe that you expect.

tables set with silverware rolled in napkins at Zia Maria

The walls were a boring cream with green trim. There were art prints on one wall, Reading Eagle covers from World War 2 on another, a television on another. Around the top was a small ledge that was filled with knickknacks.

We received the largest bread basket we have seen on our Berks County Eats adventures. Four garlic bread sticks, four garlic knots and two slices of Italian bread were delivered to us.

basket of garlic knots, focaccia and Italian bread at zia Maria

For a table of two, it was way too much. The garlic knots were great and the breadsticks were really good, too. One of each would have been enough to hold us over until our meal.

It was not until our bread basket arrived that I realized how bare the table was. There were no pre-set plates so we had to use the basket for our bread in between bites.

Both Julie and I ordered a cup of soup from the daily specials – I got chicken lemon with orzo while she got Tuscan crab.

creamy chicken orzo soup from Zia Maria

There was definitely more than a hint of lemon in the soup, with the lip-puckering citrus coming through in every sip of the thick soup. I enjoyed it, but it might have been too much for some people.

Tuscan crab soup from Zia Maria

Julie’s Tuscan crab was closer to a traditional vegetable soup, but with the addition of crab instead of beef. There was not a lot of crab, but enough to give it the distinct flavor you’d expect.

Our meals arrived a short time later, and they were as generously portioned as the bread basket.

Zia Maria has a build-your-own pasta option with your choice of six pastas and multiple sauces and meats. I went simple with fettuccine, meatballs and red sauce.

fettucine with red sauce and meatballs from Zia Maria

The sauce was light with a good amount of diced tomatoes — my favorite part — and a sprinkling of basil. I really enjoyed it, especially the little bursts of flavor that came with every piece of tomato.

My meatballs, listed as homemade, were okay, but weren’t the best that I have had. I regretted not opting for the sausage.

Julie went with one of the baked pasta options: penne Siciliana. The penne pasta was sautéed with ricotta, ground beef and tomato sauce, then topped with mozzarella and baked.

baked penne topped with cheese from Zia Maria

The soft ricotta was reminiscent of lasagna, but the penne pasta and mozzarella on top made it eat more like baked ziti. It was an enjoyable cross between the two, one that Julie got to enjoy a second time for lunch the next day.

Our pastas were very reasonably priced, though our cups of soup drove up our final bill to $35. With such large portions of pasta (and overly generous bread basket), we didn’t really need the soup anyway.

Zia Maria is not a place for a fancy Italian dinner, but it is good. With so many great Italian restaurants around us, we wouldn’t go out of our way to visit Zia Maria.

But if we find ourselves in Adamstown around dinnertime, Zia Maria isn’t a bad option.

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