Location: 570 PA-590 Hamlin, PA 18427
Phone number: (570) 689-2659
Normal Wing Price: 10 for $8.95
Wing Night: Tuesday
Wing Night Price: $0.40 to $0.50 cents a wing, depending on wing sauce
Wing flavors: Mild, Medium, Hot, Mild Garlic, Medium Garlic, Hot Garlic, Garlic Parmesan, BBQ, Roasted Garlic Parmesan, Mango Habanero, Spicy Asian
Overall Rating: 71
Lynch’s Rating: 35 out of 50
The Wing Men had a real classic mix-up on our visit to John’s Italian Restaurant. Usually, we’ll meet up first in order to drive together to a new wing place because we believe solidarity is key when it comes to wing reviews. For this trip, due to prior engagements, we had to take separate cars. Well, we ended up at two different restaurants named John’s Italian Restaurant in pretty close vicinity. After we both arrived at the correct John’s Italian Restaurant in Hamlin, we got to reviewing. The place is first and foremost a classic Italian Restaurant, which is not only apparent by the name but also obvious after looking at the large number of traditional Italian meals offered on their menu. There’s a very small bar area and an extremely large dining area for traditional family dining. John’s also has a small section up front to pay your bill and pick up and take-out you may have ordered. There were only a small number of people in the restaurant on our visit, but I did see a good amount of people arrive for take-out. Our waitress was very nice and our food arrived in a timely manner. There were no issues there. On top of that, we received some moist towelettes after our meal was complete, so that’s obviously a plus in our books.
Wing Size: 9
John’s Italian Restaurant has an interesting pricing strategy for their wings. The first set of wings cost 40 cents on wing night. This includes classic flavors such Mild, Hot, and Hot Garlic. The next tier, priced at 45 cents each, consisted of BBQ, Roasted Garlic Parmesan, and Mango Habanero. Finally, in a class of its own, the Spicy Asian wings were priced at 50 cents each. Regardless of your thoughts on this pricing strategy, which I’m sure Serniak will have some thoughts in his review, the wings were very large, even at the highest price. Honestly, 50 cents a wing is becoming the norm on wing night, and these Spicy Asian wings were massive at that price. They do require minimum orders of 10 on their wing night, and will not split orders with two different sauces.
Wing Flavors: 4
While John’s Italian Restaurant offers some unique sauces that could be harder to find at some other places, the overall wing menu is a bit lacking. In total, John’s lists 11 different sauces, but in reality, the majority of the sauces are just variations on the same sauce. I think they can really benefit by potentially adding Ranch, Caesar, or even some sort of Italian seasoning into the sauces generation. I understand that john’s Italian restaurant may not be known specifically for their wings, but I would love to see what they can do with other sauces, especially after trying some of the flavors that are outside of the norm.
Wing Taste (x2): 7
Since John’s only allows orders of ten, we split a couple orders to ensure we got the most band for our buck. The Hot was your standard, run-of-the-mill buffalo sauce. It succeeded in being a good representation of a classic Hot, but didn’t shine in any way. The Roasted Parmesan was a very thick, almost gravy-like whitish cream sauce, so I was definitely intrigued. It did a good job representing the roasted garlic flavor, but I think it could have benefited with more parmesan cheese, salt, or some other seasoning to really amplify the taste. Thinking back on it, I bet this sauce would be good if added to the traditional hot. The Mango Habanero was done right at John’s Italian Restaurant. The sauce was very much like a sweet and sour sauce with the right amount of habanero spice added. When I order a sauce with habanero in the wing, I want that great, spicy habanero taste, which John’s really brought to the table. Finally, the real shining star of the bunch was the Spicy Asian. These wings were fantastic. The wings were coated in a slight breading that was well seasoned and not over the top like breaded wings I have experienced in the past. The sauce was a tasty, sticky Teriyaki-like sauce with a great spice and flavor to it. Finally, the wings were sprinkled with Sesame seeds adding to the whole aesthetic appeal of these wings. These wings were awesome. I find it interesting that the best wings I had at John’s Italian Restaurant were those unique ones like Mango Habanero and Spicy Asian. I think that just goes to show that thinking outside the box and trying new things can result in some positive outcomes. That’s why I hope John’s Italian Restaurant continues trying new sauces and expands their wing menu.
Serniak’s Rating: 36 out of 50
My experience at John’s Italian Restaurant in Hamlin starts at a very different location, at a place located around 10 miles away. At a place called John’s Italian Restaurant, in Greentown. Yep, that’s right. There are two John’s Italian Restaurants named John’s Italian Restaurant within 10ish miles apart in NEPA. As you could imagine, I was not at all thrilled with the idea that when I typed John’s Italian Restaurant into Google, that I was sent to a Johns Italian Restaurant that wasn’t the correct John’s Italian Restaurant. I felt duped and thought that once again the Universe decided to stop my momentum. But do you think I let a little anomaly like two restaurants being named the same exact name stop me from continuing my quest to eat wings? Gimme a Hello No! We did what we always do, we fought back and made the trek across the county/counties/continents and made it to Hamlin. As I approached the John’s Italian Restaurant in Hamlin, I immediately noticed how big it was. It was a real deal, fully sized for any situation restuarant. It had a bar area and huge dining area, so all ages and creeds can get involved. We were seated in the dining area. It was extremely clean and had the feeling of a place you bring your family on a friday night after a game. Probably a lot of pizza parties happen here. Also, gotta say it’s a bit of ballsy move for a place to specialize in Italian food be a place that touts their wings. This place has entered wing competitions and have won awards for their wings. So hats off to them for being versatile. I should’ve requested to sit at the bar area because at that time, there was only one other group of people in there and I’m starting to think that I’m more of a sit at the bar guy when it’s just me and one other person. Sitting at the bar opens the door for more interesting things to happen and be said and I’m a guy who likes to laugh at funny things strangers say. Our server, who I’m told is a hell of a frisbee thrower, was nice and diligent with us. She even gave us what might of been the royal treatment by giving us moist towelettes. I say it was a royal treatment but chances are everyone gets offered those. Either way, it made me feel good thinking that I was getting something that not everyone gets. Rule #36; appreciate the little things.
Wing Size: 7
I wrestled with this decision for this rating because the prices for wings on their wing night is a bit different than most. You can get mild,medium,hot,mild garlic,medium garlic,hot garlic for 40 cents. You can get garlic parm,bbq,roasted garlic parm,mango habanero for 45 cents and spicy asian for 50 cents. That’s pretty jumbled to me. Also, you have to order them in quantities of 10, not 5. I always prefer to get orders of 5 because that means I can get more flavors. I mean it’s not hard to read on a menu but I just want flavors to be all the same price. Essentially, I want life to be as easy as possible. Now like I’ve said in the past, I’ve never operated my own restaurant so I really have no idea what it takes to create mass amounts of sauces. But, I have been to many places for wings and the absolute majority don’t set up their sauces like this. I’m also a firm believer if ain’t broke don’t fix it. So if this has been working and generating more of that green, keep on keepin on. Now, the reason why I didn’t give them a 6 for this setup is because the wings are huge. Like Steel Force big. And getting all these wings for under 50 cents is a really good deal. I powered through my standard 20 NBD unlike some other Wingmen who only finished 13(not that I’m counting or mentioning any names) but trust me, if you get your typical order whatever that is, you’ll be full.
Wing Flavors: 6
John’s Italian Restaurant does a solid job of dishing out the essential wing flavors that you need to see on any wing list. They have your mild, medium and hot. They have garlic parm, bbq, mango habanero and even one called roasted garlic parm. They even have their award winning sauce, which is a spicy asian. There are 11 total flavors. But to me, these are mostly standard flavors that the majority of places have. And honestly, I know I’m giving them a rating of a 6, but I’m pretty sure this place’s specialty is Italian food. I would have been shocked if they were stocked with a huge variety of flavors. It be like going to a steakhouse and finding out that they have 45 different kinds of shrimp. Maybe John’s goes and creates more flavors? That be great. But I think they’re in a comfortable spot with the amount of flavors they have. Maybe add some ranch and sriracha into some flavors. Those are can’t miss.
Wing Taste (x2): 8
The wings were all cooked very well. A very nice crispness was what John’s brought with every wing. First off, we got the hot. Nothing out of the ordinary here, just a very tasty wing that was much more than just putting Frank’s Red Hot on wings. Though we weren’t in the valley, they had a buttery valley like flavor to them. I could’ve used more spice but flavor the sauce is what stuck out. Next were the mango habanero. I’d say there was more sweetness from the mango than heat from the habanero but it was still balanced pretty damn well. It started with an initial sweetness but then was backed up quickly with the heat. Wonderful stuff. It’s nice to see mango habanero becoming more of a staple in today’s society. Who said we weren’t progressing as a people? Then comes the roasted garlic parm. Such a lovely display these were. Had a real cream colored creamy garlic sauce. It wasn’t what I expected. It was a real thick sauce pure garlic sauce. Not just garlic and parm sprinkled on them. It was a legit sauce and man was there a ton of it. These guys don’t skimp on sauce. Fact. If you’re a garlic freak, like myself, then you need to order this. Lastly, we got the reason why we were brought here and that was the award winning spicy asian. Now, these wings were even larger than the other and I think I know why. I also think I know why this particular flavor won an award. I feel like Tom Hanks cracking the Da Vinci Code with this revelation. Not saying that there’s devine intervention in this flavor but I’m also not not saying that either. These wings have a breading coating them and it’s excellent. It’s excellent because they’re cooked so well. So crispy. The sauce is also on point. It emcompasses everythnig that a spicy asian sauce should have. It’s got the sweetness from a sesame sauce but the bite from all the spices you’d expect from a General Tso sauce. It also walked a real tightrope between a thick and thin sauce that it might of invented a whole new state of matter.
PS- There has to be a story why there are 2 John’s Italian Restaurants. There just has to be. I can’t live in a world where this just happened by accident. I’ll eat my arms if this is just a coincidence. Maybe it takes a guy like me who thinks he might be Tom Hanks from the Da Vinci Code to crack this mystery. Or, maybe it just takes someone who actually knows the backstory to explain this to me. Either way is fine.