Juliana's Ricotta Balls

5 Favorite Appetizers of 2018

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

Savory Grille Steak Grilled Flatbread

Flatbread – Savory Grille

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

Shredded Pork Rolls - Lang Restaurant

Shredded Pork Roll – Lang

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

Juliana's Ricotta Balls

Ricotta Balls – Juliana’s

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

Fork & Ale Uovo da Raviolo

Uova De Raviolo – Fork & Ale

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

Coconut Chicken Soup – Masa

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

Appetizers Best of Berks County Eats
Juliana's Tigliatelle alle Norcina

Juliana’s

Juliana's

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.

Juliana's

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.

Juliana's Bar

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 Dining Room

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.

Juliana's Ricotta Balls

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.

Juliana's Salad

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.

Juliana's Pasta Al Forno

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.

Juliana's Tigliatelle alle Norcina

Julie ordered the tigliatelle 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.

Juliana's Bread

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.

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

Juliana’s
776 Fritztown Rd
Sinking Spring, PA 19608

Italian Lunch & Dinner Reviews
Cosa's ragu bolongese has layers of flavor from the sauce, homemade pasta and herbs

Cosa Pizzeria & Restaurant – CLOSED

Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant opened in May in the former Basil outside Sinking Spring.

Editor’s Note – Cosa Pizzeria & Restaurant closed in fall 2017 after less than a year operating in this location.

Restaurants close and restaurants open. There have been more than a few times on Berks County Eats where I have visited the same location more than once to try a new restaurant that has taken the place of one that went away.

Early in 2017, Basil Restaurant and Pizzeria outside Sinking Spring closed its doors for the last time. In stepped in Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant, giving us the opportunity to return to a familiar place for a new experience.

The dining areas look much the same as they did when Basil Restaurant and Pizzeria operated at the same location.

Cosa opened in the space on Fritztown Road in May, picking up where Basil had left off. And while the restaurant looks much the same as it did when it was Basil, subtle changes have already begun. Lunch service was ended and the restaurant now opens at 4 p.m. daily.

The menu is all-new. There’s a strong focus on pizza, but Cosa also offers 10 entree options and a selection of sandwiches.

Also new was the pairing for our complimentary bread. Along with the olive oil was a bowl with a mix of potatoes, tomatoes, herbs and oil.

Bread, olive oil, and a potato and tomato salad made for an interesting appetizer.

It was an interesting combination with the thick, airy slices of bread, but it worked. It felt like an Italian potato salad more than a bruschetta because there was no crunch of the crostini or strong balsamic overtones. The potatoes were soft and created a unique taste and texture. Julie and I both tried it and liked it, but left most of it because it was too heavy for us to finish without ruining our appetites.

Cosa offers the standard house salad with mixed greens, cucumbers, carrots, onions, cherry tomatoes and croutons.

Our house salads were next to arrive a short time later. It was your basic starter salad with mixed greens, sliced onions, cherry tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers, topped with a handful of croutons. It was presented beautifully, and everything was fresh. It was everything I look for in a salad, setting the tone for a good meal to come.

Both Julie and I picked from the selection of entrees. My choice was the ragu alla Bolognese.

Cosa's ragu bolongese has layers of flavor from the sauce, homemade pasta and herbs

It featured house-made pappardelle pasta and a traditional ragu with ground veal, sofrito, red wine, crushed tomato and cream.

Normally, I’m not a big fan of veal, but I was a big fan of this dish. The meat added a richness that was perfect for the slightly creamy tomato sauce. The sauce was thick enough and the pasta cooked well enough that that sauce stuck, never sliding off to pool at the bottom of the bowl.

There was a depth of flavor to the dish as well with just enough seasoning to bring out the best in the ingredients.

Cosa's ricotta gnocchi is served in brown butter with pancetta and parmigiano reggiano.

Julie’s ricotta gnocchi was another excellent dish.

We have had gnocchi served many different ways. This was our first taste of ricotta gnocchi, using the rich cheese as a base instead of potatoes. It was tossed in brown butter with pancetta, fresh sage and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Brown butter is a favorite of both of ours – a guilty pleasure because a big pool of butter is not the healthiest sauce – and it worked really well with the ricotta gnocchi here. The fresh sage mixed in really shined through and gave a bright, herby flavor to the whole dish. And the pancetta added salt to the dish while giving it a savory element.

Both of our meals were very well done, and we took half of each home for later meals.

Our total bill was about $35, but we only had to spend about $10 because Cosa accepts gift certificates from the former Basil, including our $25 gift certificate that had gone unused.

We certainly did not want to see Basil close, but Cosa is proving to be a worthy replacement, carrying the mantle and providing delicious Italian food to the Sinking Spring area.

Hopefully others enjoy it, too, so we won’t be returning to review another new restaurant anytime soon.

Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant
776 Fritztown Rd
Sinking Spring, PA 19608

Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Closed Lunch & Dinner Reviews