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Taste Worcester is dedicated to providing unbiased restaurant reviews for Worcester restaurants including those located in Central Massachusetts.

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04.12.15 - Wonder years

We hear that Worcester’s Wonder Bar will open in April. The neon sign and the restaurant have been restored. The old drop ceiling has been removed and the original tin ceiling repaired. The major change is that the kitchen has moved up from the basement, and the larger bar is now located where some booths were. Kudos to the Prizio family for restoring this iconic piece of Worcester’s history.

By Paul Giorgio

 

04.12.15 - You are seeing Violet

The downtown is getting a makeover with several new restaurants opening up in the near future. The north end of Main Street will soon be home to Violet Rice, a Thai and vegetarian restaurant which will be located next to Ritual, right near The Palladium.

By Paul Giorgio

 

04.12.15 - DCU in the restaurant business

The DCU Center will open a small restaurant at the corner of Foster and Commercial streets. The approximately 2,000-square-foot eatery will be open by the fall. The goal is to create some foot traffic in downtown.

By Paul Giorgio

 

04.12.15 - Wonderful Wormtown

The new and expanded Wormtown Brewery opened its doors at its Shrewsbury Street location in the middle of March. With the move, the brewery will triple its capacity and has added a tap room, where you can sample the best beer in the world. So go on down and Be Hoppy. My favorite was the Irish Red Ale. The brewery is also available for functions. Best wishes to Tom Oliveri and David Fields and their co-workers in creating great beer and a new Worcester destination.

By Paul Giorgio

 

04.12.15 - Too many chickens without their wings

Wingman is the name of the new wing stand at 275 Park Ave. in Worcester. It opened in the old hot dog stand at the corner of Chandler Street and is owned by the family that owns Zorba’s in Webster Square.

By Paul Giorgio

 

04.12.15 - And across Main Street

The Whiskey Bar will open in late spring/early summer in the space that once housed a yogurt shop near Mechanics Hall. The Whiskey Bar, specializing in ~ you guessed it ~ whisky from around the world, will be owned by Roger Bachour and his wife, Joanna. He formerly owned The Boiler Room in the Canal District.

By Paul Giorgio

 

04.12.15 - Padavano’s Place

Rather than ignoring what’s common knowledge to the most casual followers of Worcester’s dining scene, let’s start with the obvious: Padavano’s Place is the sister restaurant of Rosalina’s Kitchen, that funky little dining spot over on Grafton Hill. With delicious home-cooked Italian fare, Rosalina’s has been a favorite for informal gatherings, a place about which, back in 2012, I penned, “If you don’t meet friends at Rosalina’s, you’ll usually make a few.”

So I didn’t exactly wander into Padavano’s with my mind a tabula rasa. If anything, my expectations were higher than they might otherwise have been, absent the Rosalina’s experience.

Padavano's PlaceThese might be sister restaurants; indeed, nestled within their DNA are obvious similarities in cuisine and hospitality. But in atmosphere and physical appearance, they couldn’t be more different. Padavano’s is located in a new structure on Worcester’s Restaurant Row. High ceilings, fresh decor and a lounge with a full bar and live entertainment are Padavano’s stylish answer to Rosalina’s funky three-decker chic.

Let’s put away the superficiality and drill down to what’s really important ~ the Padavano dining experience.

My friend and I were greeted by Padavano’s host with an invitation to choose whatever table we wanted. Fair enough; we easily found one with adequate lighting in a quiet corner. Our waitress soon arrived with menus, a recital of specials and asked if we would like to order drinks. I needed to make some dining decisions first.

Padavano’s menu is quite diverse, Italian at its core but with several surprises. I have friends who’d be eager to try such an item as Spicy Brown Sugar Sausage Bites with Cinnamon Cream Sauce. And, as with green eggs and ham, I might see that if I just tried them, I would so like them. But not tonight!

CalamariInstead, we decided to start with Yolanda’s Fried Calamari. We opted out of the fried pepper upgrade and loved them, with a quick twist of fresh lemon and an occasional dunk into Padavano’s tasty marinara. So fresh they almost tasted sweet, these rings and tentacle snarls were fried a light golden brown in the cleanest of oil baths. No heavy deep-fried flavor. Just simple, honest seafood flavor in a crispy coating.

From there, we continued with Caesar salad. A big bowl of sliced romaine, each leaf was evenly coated with creamy dressing rich with Parmesan, garlic and a touch of lemon flavors. A harmonious blend, with no one flavor overpowering the others. In addition to the tumble of crunchy croutons, this Caesar was tossed with a generous scattering of parmesan cheese shavings, an elegant touch.

SausageWhen I go to Rosalina’s Kitchen, I remain true to a duo of entrees ~ raviolis and linguine with clam sauce. I consider these choices solid as bedrock. But I wanted to stray a bit at Padavano’s, so I braced myself and ordered the Veal & Sausage Mafia, “a delightful combination of sautéed veal and sausage bites.” Several things appealed to me, especially the mushrooms simmered in a roasted red pepper sauce.

But Mafia? I just don’t think my Italian friends would approve. And sausage bites? “Bites,” in my belief system, is code for something from the freezer case served to undiscerning teenagers.

But this, after all, was Padavano’s Place. Everything’s homemade. And, sure enough, the dish was a winner. Big slices of meaty mushrooms were tossed with half-medallions of veal and short lengths of tender sausage. The roasted red pepper sauce was zesty and clung to every crevasse of the radiatori pasta. My glass of the house’s ruby-red Cabernet Sauvignon was a sure-fire match.

Yet there was something, umm, interesting about that sausage. It was very tasty and true, but its texture was soft. I asked the manager about it. Her explanation was supremely simple. After consulting the kitchen, she confirmed that it was made fresh that evening. As I looked closer, some of the thin lengths of casings had slipped off ~ it was really that delicate!

Padavano's PlaceMy friend, meanwhile, was preoccupied with his bowl of Linguini & Clam Sauce. Whereas I prefer red sauce, he ordered it with the white wine sauce. Padavano’s has kept the winning formula! This is a bowl of pasta tossed with a boatload of beautifully clean clams, with tiny shells as I’d only seen in Italy before we started going to Rosalina’s. Each clam contains a perfect little specimen of meat, totally free of grit. The brothy sauce was tinged buttery gold with a flavor richer than expected. The kitchen knows how delicious and irresistible it is. … the dish is served with thick slices of grilled Italian bread.

Rosalina’s Kitchen or Padavano’s Place? Two sisters, each with a distinctive personality. Both with forthright hospitality and a keen dedication to quality. Don’t ask me to choose a favorite!

Padavano’s Place
358 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester
(774) 823-3022
padavanosplace.com

By Bernie Whitmore

 

04.12.15 - Establishing relations with Cuba

Café Reyes, a Cuban restaurant, opened its doors at 421 Shrewsbury St. in Worcester the first week of March, giving “Restaurant Row” a new cuisine to try. It is open initially only for lunch and is also a job-training program.

By Paul Giorgio

 

02.05.15 - Worcester Restaurant Week – Give yourself a treat

Once again, it’s time for the winter edition of Worcester Restaurant Week, a semi-annual event highlighting the food of local restaurants. Central Massachusetts is known for having great food at reasonable prices, but twice a year, local restaurant owners take their prices down even more. From Feb. 23-March 7, you can check out special menus at local restaurants for $23.15!

Got a favorite restaurant or want to discover a new favorite? Worcester Restaurant Week is the time to go out, dine and beat back those winter blues.

Worcester restaurant week is sponsored by, UniBank, Blue Moon, Yuengling, Harpoon, Samuel Adams, and Mercadante Funeral Home. Media sponsors include The Pike 100 FM, WXLO 104.5 FM, Nash Icon 98.9 FM, WCRN 830 AM, Vitality Magazine, TasteWorcester.com and Pulse.

For more information, check out worcesterrestaurantweek.com and facebook.com/worcesterrestaurantweek.

 

02.05.15 - Eating healthy on a budget

Tired of the grocery bills being in the triple digits because of your healthy-eating lifestyle? Well, this stops today because eating healthy on a budget is possible and definitely affordable. When it comes to eating healthy, everyone automatically thinks organic and dollar signs. However, there are many ways to eat clean while saving money. Here are some tips that will have you on the right track to eating healthy while spending less.

HOW TO SHOP:
Bargain Hunting
Everyone loves a bargain because sales help you to pay less than the original price. For example, fruits are probably one of the most expensive healthy items on your grocery list. Strawberries cost about $3.99 to $4.99 for a small plastic carton. On the other hand, if you are lucky, you can catch a bargain where the prices are two for $5.

Bundles/Stock-up
With bargain hunting comes the luxury of buying in bundles. This allows you to buy on sale and in large quantities to stock up. Going back to the example of the strawberries, one might buy one carton of strawberries at the price of $3.99, but with the sale price end up buying four. You¹re saving, getting more for your buck and stocking up your refrigerator. Now that is a deal!

Cross Shopping
Cross shopping is another technique used to save money. At home, spend time looking up different local supermarkets, food markets and even department stores like Walmart and Target in your area. This will allow you to cross shop products that are on your healthy grocery list and compare prices. Sometimes, the same items that you are waiting to go sale in one location is already on sale at another or even regularly priced cheaper than other stores.

Seasonal Shopping
Seasonal shopping is another way to save money. For instance, seafood can be very costly, especially salmon because it is high in nutrients and in high demand. Salmon contains protein, which is good for body growth and maintenance. In addition, salmon consists of the Omega 3 fats (good fatty acids), which help fight many health problems such as diabetes and cancer. So when is the best time to buy salmon? The answer is from May-September because this is when fish is more prominent in the water and large quantities can be sold to consumers at cheaper prices. Now that you have bought all your items, next is to determine how you cook them.

HOW TO COOK:
The way you prepare your food is very important. Let¹s take a look at chicken for a moment. As we know, fried chicken is most common, not only at home but in fast food restaurants. Yes, it might be enticing and satisfying to the stomach, but fried food also absorbs large amounts of grease and oil. Grease and oil breaks down into what is known as “bad” fat, which can clog arteries and cause heart disease and strokes. Baking, steaming, boiling and grilling are cooking alternatives that are much healthier. If you do choose to incorporate a little oil in your meal, cooking with extra virgin olive oil is recommended because it contains heart-healthy antioxidants. Remember to remove all skin and fat from the meat. A clean meal is a clean body!

HOW TO EAT:
Portion Control
Paying attention to how much food you are consuming is critical to eating healthy and sticking to the budget. Portion control is vital. It allows you to monitor your food intake, as well as budget your shopping list. For example, if you tend to eat larger portions of fish rather than steak, your budget will take in consideration the price of fish, going back to the idea of seasonal and bundle shopping. Portion control also brings about the strategy of substitution, where instead of having larger portions of fish, consider switching it up with shrimp or scallops. In this case, you are still obtaining protein but leaving yourself with options to make new dishes and try new foods.

Snacking
Stay away from junk food. Substitution is key! Snacking can get the best of us because junk foods like potato chips, cookies and ice cream taste so good. We think it is OK because we are only consuming small amounts. However, you can find healthy snacks that taste great, too. For example, instead of having ice cream, look at having yogurt. Yogurt is nutritious and light. As for potato chips, try baked chips like tortilla chips or even rice crisps; you can even take it a step further and make your own. Remember, make smart substitutions!

You can eat healthy regardless of your budget. Do not get discouraged by high costs of eating healthy. Conduct research and find ways to beat the prices. Your body is important, and eating right is a major step to staying healthy or improving your health. With all the tips above, you can eat smart, save money and live healthy!

For more information, visit actinspires.com.

By Akilah C. Thompson

Akilah C. Thompson earned bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business economics from North Carolina A&T State University. She is an IRS enrolled agent, certified life coach, licensed Zumba instructor and inspirational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of ACT Inspires, Inc. and the nonprofit Generations Inspired, Inc. Thompson is also a model, actor and author.

 

02.05.15 - Wachusett Brewing Company

Wachusett Brewing Company
175 State Road, East Westminster
Wachusettbrew.com
Open noon-5 p.m. on Saturdays

PulseBREW: Saturday beer tripsOne of the pioneers of the local craft beer scene, Wachusett is still going strong after more than 30 years in business. The company has no intention of resting on its laurels and has recently introduced its Milk Stout in a can, as well as being the first in the state to offer 32-ounce cans filled with the fresh beer of your choice at the brewery. These large cans are called crowlers, growlers with a “c” for “can.” The walking tour of the brewery takes almost an entire hour and comes with two 2-ounce samples at the end. Be sure to try Larry or Green Monsta if they are available that day.

Nearby on Route 2A is the 1761 Gift Shop. It kind of reminds me of a Cracker Barrel, but is an individual family business. Great rolls come with the dinner that’s served upstairs. Afterwards, head downstairs to the gift shop for all sorts of things, including old-fashioned penny candy. Wachusett Mountain in nearby Princeton has skiing and snowboarding, as well as other events throughout the year.

 

02.05.15 - Jack’s Abby

Jack’s Abby
81 Morton St., Framingham
Jacksabbybrewing.com
Open noon-8 p.m. on Saturdays

PulseBREW: Saturday beer tripsThis is one of the most diverse breweries you will ever encounter. Lagers are what Jack’s is known for, but don’t go in expecting to see boring mass-market offerings. Jack’s has everything from a 4.5% ABV Framinghammer Lager to a 13% ABV lagerwine known as Bridemaker. There are also smoked beers, imperial pale lagers and Baltic porters that include some aged in bourbon barrels and some that use cacao nibs or peanut butter and jelly. Jack’s license allows for 4-ounce samples, as well as full pints, and there are bottles to take home.

On nearby Route 9, there is a plethora of things to do. Shoppers World has just about every store you could imagine. The Natick Mall is also nearby if upscale shopping is your thing. Julio’s Liquors is a must-visit, as it has one of the best selections of craft beer in Massachusetts.

 

02.05.15 - Treehouse Brewing

Treehouse Brewing
Treehousebrew.com
Open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays

PulseBREW: Saturday beer tripsI think by now you get the point that this is one of my favorite breweries. Regardless of what is on tap, you should go. Treehouse sells refillable growlers. You fill out an order card ~ kind of like a sushi restaurant ~ and you wait for your growler to be filled. Tours are offered of the brewery, and sometimes there is a food vendor selling groovy grub, or you can just take a walk and enjoy the surrounding scenery.

Nearby on Route 20 in Sturbridge is Enrico’s Brick Oven Pizza and BT’s Smokehouse if you are looking for lunch or dinner. Sturbridge Coffee Shop is a great place to grab a coffee and a pastry on your way in. Yankee Candle has an outlet store there, in case your companion likes that sort of thing better than craft beer.

 

02.05.15 - In the ’burbs

Wilson Wang, who owns Baba on Worcester’s Park Avenue, was recently given a liquor license in Holden. He plans on opening Blue Fish Restaurant at 1134 Main St. No opening date has been set.

 

02.05.15 - In more downtown news

 Jak’s Pub, across from the Hanover Theatre, has a new owner. No word yet on any plans for the space.

 

02.05.15 - Front Street gets a new restaurant

Talyta’s Café recently opened at 20 Front St. in Worcester, directly across from City Hall. The café specializes in Mexican and Salvadorian food.

 

02.05.15 - Speaking of water

 Birkbeck’s Waterfront Grill opened the first week of January on Worcester’s Mill Street. This has been the home of a few restaurants and is probably the only Worcester eatery on the water. Mike Birkbeck is the owner.

 

02.05.15 - Speaking of Water Street

We hear that Jose Murphy’s will not be reopening. Instead, a new owner, Jason Grayson, and a new concept will take the space.

 

02.05.15 - Don’t fall in

A new restaurant is going in on Water Street, right past The Perfect Game. Amici on Canal will be opening shortly.

 

02.05.15 - The Urban feel

The Urban Kitchen + Bar, 225 Shrewsbury St., opened its doors on New Year’s Eve. The chef has created an exciting menu. The bar is a showpiece and features craft cocktails. The owner is George Voyatzis, who also owns Fish in Marlboro, probably the best seafood restaurant outside of Boston.

 

02.05.15 - Changes at Ceres

 Bill Nemeroff, the chef at Ceres Bistro, has left to work at Sturbridge Village. No word yet on who will take over his duties at the Beechwood.

 

02.05.15 - Throw in your sombrero

Throw in your sombrero. We also hear the Ole, a Mexican eatery on Worcester’s Water Street, closed its doors at the end of the year. No word if anyone is moving into the space.

 

02.05.15 - Across the bridge.

 Another restaurant closed, this one in Shrewsbury. Buppa de Beppo, on the shores of Lake Quinsigamond, abruptly closed its doors in the middle of January. Maybe it was the astronomically high rent or the construction on the bridge that was the cause. Before that, Elsa’s, which was next door, also closed up shop.

 

02.05.15 - Don’t Pick This One

The Pic on Worcester’s Shrewsbury Street quietly closed its doors at the beginning of January. The business had been sold to Arthur Furtado, who unexpectedly passed away from complications due to diabetes.

 

02.05.15 - Last call at The Saloon

The Saloon on Worcester’s West Boylston Street recently closed its doors. The restaurant occupied the site of the former Banana Joe’s. It was only open for a little more than six months and had two owners in that brief time. It’s a great location for someone who knows what they are doing.