5 Favorite Entrees 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 entrees of 2018.

Brocmar Taco – Brocmar Smokehouse

When we visited Brocmar Smokehouse for our first blog of 2018, it was a relative newcomer to the Shillington Farmers Market. When we left, it was our new go-to spot for barbecue in Berks County thanks to the inventive Brocmar taco – a fried Johnny cake topped with choice of meat, coleslaw and barbecue sauce. Between return visits to the market and sandwiches at Brocmar’s Reading Fightin Phils stand, it was probably our most-visited restaurant of the year. Read Full Review

Savory Grille Five Spice Duck Breast

Five-Spice Duck Breast – Savory Grille

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that duck – when done right – is one of my absolute favorite foods. The five-spice duck breast from Savory Grille may be the best that I’ve tried. At the time, I described it as one of the best dishes I have ever tried – thanks to the addition of blueberry compote and sauce gastrique that gave it a complex sweet and sour flavor. It was an absolute highlight in one of the best meals we had all year. Read Full Review

Sal's Pizza Style Stromboli Pizza

Stromboli Pizza – Sal’s Pizza Style

I’m not going to go so far as to say this is my favorite pizza in Berks County (that honor still goes to the Chicago-style pie at Romano’s) but it is certainly the most original pizza – or Stromboli – in Berks, and that’s reason enough to make the list. Taking a traditional Stromboli and using the top fold as the base of a pizza is brilliant. It’s also very good and something that’s worth trying at least once. Read Full Review

Fork & Ale Moroccan Chicken

Moroccan Chicken – Fork  & Ale

Hands-down the best chicken dish that I have tasted on Berks County Eats. The Moroccan chicken from Fork & Ale featured confit chicken in an incredible spice blend, served over housemade pasta. The addition of sweet golden raisins and crunchy chickpeas gave it additional flavor bursts and needed texture and helped make it one of the most memorable dishes we have tried. Read Full Review

Kwik Shoppe Pulled Duck Sandwich

Pulled Duck – Kwik  Shoppe

This may not have been the gourmet-style duck described above from Savory Grille, but I have to give kudos to the Kwik Shoppe for creating a fast-food style pulled duck sandwich that exceeded my expectations. The subtle sweet and tangy sauce and the crispy onion ring on top were nice additions. Is it a five-star meal? Absolutely not. But it’s a unique only-in-Berks County dish and that’s reason enough to make this list. Read Full Review

Best of Berks County Eats Entrees
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

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

Klinger’s at the Airport

klingers-airport-mural

Every great movie franchise is built on the trilogy. Think Lord of the Rings, the Dark Knight and Star Wars (the originals, obviously). That formula apparently works for restaurants, too.

With the opening of Klinger’s at the Airport at the end of 2016, the Klinger’s trilogy is now complete.

Berks County Eats has already visited the original Klinger’s on Carsonia, and last year, we visited the new Klinger’s of Fleetwood.

If I were starting a restaurant, the Reading Regional Airport would not be my ideal location. The airport hasn’t had regular passenger service since 2004.

But with the closing of Malibooz early last year, the space was open and Klinger’s stepped in.

The lights were mostly off in the terminal when we arrived, but Klinger’s was alive and well, tucked in a corner on the left side of the building.

It looks like a hole in the wall, but the dining area opens up from the entrance. To the right is a 360-degree bar. A large mural dedicated to aviation history decorates the wall behind it.

The rest of the dining room is filled with booths and tables, definitely the largest dining area of the three Klinger’s restaurants.

Our table was by one of the windows overlooking the airstrip. During our visit – a Tuesday night where we played Challenge the Pub trivia – we saw exactly one plane out the window, though whether it was coming or going, I couldn’t say.

klingers-airport-wings

Klinger’s is known for their bar food and for me, their wings are some of the best around. So we had to start our night with a basket – five Old Bay and five Jameson Whiskey BBQ.

Both flavors can be found at Klinger’s other restaurants, the Jameson Whiskey BBQ being the signature flavor. It’s sweet, and a little bitey. When I’ve had the wings at Carsonia, the sauce is laid on much thicker. This was lighter, but the flavor was still there. And the Old Bay is exactly what it sounds like, wings rubbed down in the classic seasoning, Julie’s favorite.

The menu looks similar to the other two locations, though each one has its own unique offerings. For instance, all three feature different varieties of chili. I had an opportunity to sample the habanero chili during the chili cook-off at this year’s Fire & Ice Festival and loved it. It was a little sweet with enough heat to make you take notice, but not enough to overpower everything else.

klingers-airport-lone-star-steak-sandwich

Another twist comes with the sandwiches. All three locations have a section for steak sandwiches, but only Fleetwood and the Airport have the Lone Star Style steak sandwich featuring sautéed onions, barbecue sauce, beer cheese and bacon.

It is a phenomenal mix of ingredients. The steak meat – real cuts of meat, not Steak-Ums – is a great base. The beer cheese and the barbecue sauce blend together really well for a sweet and smoky flavor. The thick-cut bacon adds a salty note and more smokiness. And the sautéed onions are the perfect finish.

This is no Philly cheesesteak, but it is one of the best sandwiches that I have tried in more than three years of Berks County Eats.

klingers-airport-stromboli

One of the only-at-the-airport menu additions is Stromboli – seven varieties made with beer dough. Julie decided to try the Classic – pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, mozzarella and marinara.

Klinger’s did a good job with this. The doughy shell is very good, though I couldn’t taste anything uniquely “beer dough” about it. What really stands out though is the sauce. It’s a thick, deep red sauce that is quite enjoyable for a place that doesn’t qualify as an “Italian restaurant.”

klingers-airport-cookie-sundae

We were joined on our visit by our friends Matt and Hannah, who were very excited to see a cookie sundae on the dessert menu.

I have to say, after the meal, the sundae was a bit of a letdown. The chocolate chip cookie, though it looked cute with a faux face made of chocolate chunks – was disappointing. It was hard so it was difficult to cut and share. We finished off the ice cream and chocolate syrup but left some of the cookie behind.

For Julie and I, our total bill was around $30 (that included our two entrees, wings and an iced tea as Matt and Hannah picked up the tab for the cookie). Good luck coming in under $30 for dinner at PHL.

The new Klinger’s, despite its location, should prove successful. It follows a similar formula as its two sister restaurants: a cool atmosphere, rotating craft beers for the bar crowd, and great food.

Now that they have the three-peat, will Klinger’s try for four?

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

Klinger’s at the Airport
2385 Bernville Rd
Reading, PA 19605

Klinger's at the Airport Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars & Pubs Dessert Lunch & Dinner Reviews