A photo of a calzone and French fries on a dark blue plate.

Piero’s Pizzeria

Photo of the exterior of Piero's Pizzeria in Reading, PA

Sometimes it feels like there is an Italian restaurant on just about every corner.

While that is an exaggeration, there is no question that you can find good Italian food wherever you go in Berks County.

Like at Piero’s Pizzeria.

Piero’s is wedged in on the corner of Route 183 and Upper Van Reed Road in Leinbachs, just a short drive north of the Reading Airport and Route 222.

Photo of an order counter in an Italian restaurant. Photos of food are on the wall above the counter while pizza is on display on the counter.

The location has limited parking in the front and on the side of the building, more than enough especially if you’re just stopping in to grab takeout (though Piero’s does have a decent size dining area for those who would prefer to dine-in.)

Our order was prepared quick and was ready to go by the time we made our way from Wyomissing to pick it up.

Piero’s, like many Italian family restaurants, offers a little bit of everything on their menu, including pizza, subs, salads, fried appetizers, burgers and Italian dinners.

I was in the mood for pizza but didn’t want a whole pie so I opted instead for a calzone.

A photo of a calzone and French fries on a dark blue plate.

All of Piero’s calzones are stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella and served with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. I decided to add meatballs to mine, creating something between a pizza and a meatball sandwich.

I was not disappointed. It was really the ricotta that sets the calzone apart. The lighter and creamier cheese adds a different element than just mozzarella (as would have been in a Stromboli).

The calzone was also the perfect size for one, though I couldn’t help but order a side of fries. They were the battered kind, fried to a golden crisp and perfect for eating one after another without thinking about it.

A photo of a tuna sandwich, cut in half, with the cut side facing the camera.

Julie, meanwhile, had a tuna melt – her favorite sandwich order. The sandwich was stuffed with tuna and overflowing with lettuce and tomato. The roll was toasted perfectly. It was a very good sandwich, and Julie gave it her stamp of approval.

A close-up picture of a slice of pepperoni pizza.

And our toddler approved of his slice of pizza. Jakob enjoyed his pepperoni pizza. The thin crust pie was a solid offering, and Jakob even ate the pepperoni slices. (He has been known, in the past, to not eat his pepperoni because it is “too spicy”).

Photo of Piero's Pizzeria's ham puffs - rolled dough with ham and cheese.

We also couldn’t help but order a half dozen of Piero’s ham puffs. Ham puffs are basically pepperoni rolls – rolls of dough filled with cheese and meat – but with slices of ham instead of pepperoni inside. Piero’s uses a very good dough for all of their items and it was just as good in the ham puffs.

Our meal was enjoyable across the board. It wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but Piero’s delivered on everything that we tried.

For everything we got, it was right around $30, not a bad price at all for so much food.

And good food, at that.

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

Lunch & Dinner Pizzerias Reviews Sandwich Shops

Gourmand Cafe (Via Delivery Dudes)

As you might have already heard, there is a new addition to the Berks County Eats family – a baby boy! He’s due around Thanksgiving, but chances are he will make his grand entrance a little before that. (We’re just hoping he bakes a few more weeks!)

About a month ago, I was in the hospital and since then have basically been a home-body. The good thing is, I am pretty good at entertaining myself. The bad thing? I would love to be doing more active things! But I’m not, and this is just life’s way of telling me to take some time to relax before Baby B. arrives. (That’s the nickname for our little bundle.)

Thankfully, I’m still able to go out to eat so I can still be a part of the BCE experience. But when you’re stuck at home and kind of tired of leftovers and the same old stuff, you really want to have something yummy from outside the house.

Enter Delivery Dudes. Delivery service has been around for a long time. Think about all those pizza places delivering right to your door. Or even as far back as the milk man.

Delivery Dudes came into the Reading area in 2015. With so many independent restaurants popping up in Berks County, it is a much-needed service. It helps these businesses reach beyond the crowd that walks into their brick-and-mortars. And it helps busy customers that are looking for something other than their everyday lunch or dinner.

About a month ago, I was having a craving for Gourmand. I am not supposed to be driving, and without a ride to the Gourmand Café on Berkshire Blvd. in Wyomissing, I decided to order take-out through Delivery Dudes.

I ordered the tuna melt and their featured hummus.

The tuna melt arrived as an open-faced sandwich. I was pleasantly surprised because that also meant that I would be saving the second half for later. The melt is made with a house-made tuna salad, melted Swiss cheese and tomato on a toasted marble rye bread.  The salad was good and hearty, not runny at all. The rye bread was a nice addition and added a different kind of flavor to the sandwich. The sandwich is also served with their house-made potato chips which are always a favorite of mine.

The featured hummus looked amazing. I have to be honest though, as the baby is growing, it’s harder for me to eat a lot in one sitting without feeling REALLY uncomfortable. Pair that with the fact that I forgot that the sandwich comes with chips, I just couldn’t eat any more so I saved the hummus for a snack.

When I finally got around to the hummus, I loved it! The simple hummus was garnished with (I believe) roasted red peppers sautéed onions, and spring onions. The hummus came with house-made tortilla chips which were also amazing! The tortilla chips were fried and puffed up in the process, making them even more delightful.

So how does Delivery Dudes work? You’ll find a list of all participating restaurants on the website. Click on the restaurant you want to try and browse the menu. Add items to you cart and check out.

There is a $5.00 cash delivery charge per restaurant on all orders, no matter the size. If you choose to pay by CC, there is a $2 processing fee.

When I finished check-out, it gave me a delivery window of about 45 minutes. Boy, I was glad I was thinking ahead because when a pregnant woman is hungry, she wants it NOW!

Right on schedule about 45 minutes later, the delivery person pulled up in front of the house and brought the food right to the door. I added a tip to the total, which ended up being just under $25.

I have to admit, when I’m the only one ordering, $25 for lunch is kind of a lot, but it’s all about convenience.

It’s a great service if you’re ordering lunch for the office, a meal for the family, or dinner for you and your friends. But for one person, it’s not just practical.

That said, DD is providing a service and a great service at that. I’ll just make sure to order with Zach next time.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: N/A
Price: Reasonable (A Little Pricey w/ Delivery)

Gourmand Cafe
945 Berkshire Blvd
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Delivery Dudes
deliverydudes.com/reading

Lunch & Dinner Reviews

The Hot Spot

If you subscribe to the daily edition of the Reading Eagle, then you have likely seen the full-page advertisement for the Boscov’s Fairgrounds Farmers Market that runs every Wednesday.

Lately, I have been using it as a checklist and for inspiration for my blogs as I eat my way through the Farmers Market.

What caught my eye over the past few weeks was the note under the Scott’s Hot Spot section: “UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP”

Scott’s opened in 2010. A health issue forced the owner to close the stand for several months in 2015, but otherwise, it has been a staple in the market for seven years.

On April 12, the restaurant’s Facebook account announced the new owners: Roseann Rothenberger and Brian Miller, who are now running the stand and will soon rename it, “The Hot Spot.”

We decided to make it our latest Friday night stop on our Farmers Market odyssey.

The Hot Spot was certainly one of the busiest stands at the market, with a line to order and several people waiting at any given time. While we stood in line to order, we heard another customer complain about his order. “I said no onions on both,” was the cry before his food was remade.

Our food took a little while because of the line that had been in front of us. We probably waited 20 minutes before it was called and I could pick it up at the counter.

My entree choice was Scott’s traditional gyro, one of the items that had been a staple at the stand (and spawned a catering trailer called Scott’s Gyro Box).

Gyros are not something that I order very often. My only other gyro in my Berks County Eats journey was from Cafe Sweet Street so I was excited for another taste.

I really enjoyed it, especially the salad base. It had a flavor that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it complemented the meat and tzatziki sauce nicely.

It was also very filling to where I probably didn’t need my side order of fries.

But I really wanted those fries, especially after I saw that they were red-skinned potatoes.

I was slightly disappointed with them. Red-skinned potatoes have such a strong flavor compared to Idaho or russet potatoes, but the natural flavor of the red skins didn’t shine through as much as I had hoped.

For French fries, they were good. They were a little oversalted, but good. But I was hoping for more.

Julie was a little perplexed by her order. She got the tuna meltaway, but was surprised to find that it really wasn’t a true tuna melt.

While the bread was clearly toasted, the cheese and tuna filling were still cold. That’s not to say it was bad, but you can’t call something a tuna meltaway and then not melt the cheese.

Her sandwich was much smaller than mine, though she wasn’t upset by that. For her, it was just the right size.

Also, her sandwich was supposed to come with a bag of chips, but we never got them (she wouldn’t have eaten them with her meal, but we would have taken them home for later).

Overall, there was confusion at the stand, as would be expected of a new business. Because of the setup at the farmers market, you can see the kitchen very clearly and the three people behind the counter seemed to be stepping on each others toes, leading to small mistakes.

I fully expect things to get better, especially as the menu shifts with the new owners. For now though, it’s a little scattered.

One thing that is still good is the pricing. Our meals (plus two bottles of water) cost $20 and change. That’s one great thing about all of the stands at the market – there’s low overhead costs so the prices are generally lower than if you ordered a similar meal at a restaurant.

The new Scott’s Hot Spot, soon to be The Hot Spot, has the makings of a great stand. It’s just not quite there yet.

Hopefully it reaches its potential because I want to come back in a few months and enjoy something new.

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

The Hot Spot
Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2934 N. Fifth St. Hwy
Reading, PA 19604

The Hot Spot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Farmers Market Meals Reviews

Fork & Ale

fork-and-ale

The opening of Fork & Ale in December was a holiday gift to Berks County.

Reimagining the space that housed the popular Tim’s Ugly Mug took nearly two years, and the result isn’t just another bar. It’s a true gastropub.

Bars are places where you sit at the counter and order a Yuengling and some wings. Gastropubs are more than that. Gastropubs feature craft beers and cocktails with a more robust, chef-inspired dinner menu.

Fork & Ale definitely earns its place as a gastropub.

The dining area gives off the vibe of a modernized speakeasy. The Edison bulbs hung in strings above the booths and tables are both retro and contemporary. One wall is covered entirely with mirrors. The wood floor has been stained dark, the wood grains popping against the neutral colored walls.

fork-and-ale-menu

And the menu is presented on a simple sheet of paper beneath Fork & Ale’s slogan: “Eat | Drink | Gather.”

It’s a limited menu, a characteristic shared by all of the best restaurants. Owing to the “gather” portion of the restaurant’s motto, much of the menu is made up of appetizers and shareable plates.

We started with one of the more unique shareables: poutine.

fork-and-ale-poutine

For those who have never ventured north of the border, poutine is a Canadian specialty consisting of French fries, cheese curds and brown gravy.

At Fork and Ale, the dish gets a South Philly makeover as Italian sausage “gravy” replaces the brown gravy. And it works.

With mozzarella curd and a thick tomato gravy, the poutine becomes more like a pasta dish, the fries serving as a spaghetti stand-in. The sausage gave the gravy an enjoyable heat while also making it more filling.

fork-and-ale-poutine-deconstructed

My only complaint would be that the mozzarella curd melted into one large piece of cheese. And that piece ended up on Julie’s plate, not mine.

After we finished our appetizer, we had a long wait until the rest of our food arrived.

It wasn’t as long of a wait as we had at ViVA Castle Pub, but it was still a full 40 minutes between when the poutine arrived and when our entrees were delivered to the table.

My meal was simple enough: a cheesesteak and fries.

fork-and-ale-cheesesteak

I wasn’t going to get the cheesesteak, but it was listed as a ribeye cheesesteak with sautéed onions, wild mushrooms and aged Provolone sauce.

There wasn’t anything wrong with the sandwich, but it felt like a bit of a letdown after the poutine. There were plenty of mushrooms but I tasted few onions.

But I think my biggest complaint would be the cheese sauce. Aged Provolone is one of my favorite sandwich additions. The sauce had none of the characteristics of Provolone, lacking both the sharpness and saltiness that I expected. Maybe it’s just me, but I would have much preferred a couple slices in place of the sauce.

Julie wholeheartedly disagrees. She thought the cheese sauce was the best part of the sandwich, and when I couldn’t finish it, she was more than happy to eat the second half for lunch the next day.

In my haste in ordering, I had failed to make a connection between the fact that my side would be yet more French fries. They were certainly good – though they were a little cold which tells me that the fries were done long before the rest of our food – but I had my fill already with the poutine.

fork-and-ale-grilled-tuna

If you follow along with Berks County Eats every week, you may have noticed that Julie is now a big fan of fish (I, on the other hand, still will not eat things that live underwater).

Her newfound dedication to fish continued with her order of grilled tuna with roasted carrot, spaetzle, broccoli rabe and mussel buerre blanc.

The tuna steak was grilled to a medium rare with a nice char on the outside. The buerre blanc – white butter sauce – was very good.

Having never had mussels before, it was hard for her to tell how much of the mussels flavor carried through, but she enjoyed it. And she loved the spaetzle.

Not to be forgotten were the vegetables. Both the broccoli rabe and the carrots were excellent. The carrots most closely resembled the barbecue carrots that we both love from the Farmers Market of Wyomissing. And the little bit of bitterness from broccoli rabe just added another dimension to the plate.

Because we couldn’t live without poutine, we had to live without dessert. That left us with a total bill of nearly $50.

Again, this isn’t bar food. Don’t expect 50-cent wings or $8 burgers.

It’s a gastropub. It’s finer food and drinks, and it’s going to keep bringing people to Fork & Ale.

Fork & Ale
1281 E. Main St
Douglassville, PA 19518

Fork & Ale Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars & Pubs Lunch & Dinner Reviews