Enjoy pasta and more with a down-home appeal at Jay Berry’s

December 4, 2008

By Jim Feehan

My mom used to gauge how good a restaurant was by how many cars were in the parking lot. She believed a restaurant owner must be doing something right if it continued to draw so many patrons.

I drive by Jay Berry’s Café along state Route 900 at least twice a day and its large parking lot is usually full.There’s good reason why. The delightfully understated full-service restaurant offers a bountiful menu at reasonable prices. The restaurant has the feel of going to Grandma’s house for dinner, but you don’t have to do the dishes afterward. Large framed prints of New York’s Flatiron Building and other urban cityscapes accent the restaurant’s soft, earth-toned walls.

The restaurant opened earlier this year at the site of what used to be Leonard’s restaurant. Jay Berry’s also operates a café in North Bend.

If you’re looking for a wide and varied menu, Jay Berry’s is the ticket. It may take a few minutes to go through the multipage menu filled with chicken, steak and salmon entrees, to say nothing of the specialty pizzas, baked pasta and Parmesan specialties. The rest of the menu includes sandwiches, salads and traditional pasta favorites, such as tortellini ($11.99), beef ravioli ($11.99) and all-you-can-eat spaghetti ($8.99).

If that’s not enough, Jay Berry’s is also open for breakfast at 8 a.m. The breakfast menu, while not as expansive as the lunch and dinner menus, does include the usual morning fare of egg dishes, omelets, biscuits and gravy. Traditional two-egg dishes start at $6.50, a plain cheese omelet is $6.99, and eggs and a 10-ounce New York steak will set you back $13.99.

I selected the chicken Parmesan ($9.25 lunch/ $14.25 dinner). The popular Italian dish of chicken breast covered in breadcrumbs topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella over a bed of spaghetti was superb. The chicken was tender and flavorful and the spaghetti cooked so as to be firm but not hard.

The person seated at the table next to me chose one of the restaurant’s nine specialty pizzas. The Jay Berry Special features Canadian bacon, olives, pineapple and Italian sausage; the Meat Lovers pizza is truly that with a heaping of pepperoni, Canadian bacon, salami, ground beef and Italian sausage. Vegetarian, Hawaiian luau chicken and pesto three-cheese and smoked chicken are among the other specialty pizzas.

The pies each cost the same, based on size: small $10.99, medium $16.99 and large $19.99.

Jay Berry’s also offers a good selection of red and white wines (many from Washington vintners), domestic and imported beers, and microbrews.

Service was friendly and prompt. If I had one misgiving, it would be that the restaurant is not open earlier in the morning for commuters and parents dropping their children off at south-end schools.

Jay Berry’s Cafe

16341 S.E. Renton-Issaquah Road
8 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday – Friday, 5 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Breakfast from $6.50 – $13.99; lunch entrees from $6.75 to $12.95; dinners from $6.99 to $19.99

    Reach Reporter Jim Feehan at 392-6434, ext 239, or jfeehan@isspress.com.

    Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.

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