By Paul Giorgio
With the sputtering economy and summer in full swing, it’s a good time to take a look at some of Worcester’s BYOB restaurants, otherwise known as Bring Your Own Bottle. In short, these are places that don’t have a liquor license but do allow you to bring in your own liquor.
Some may charge a set up fee for supplying glasses and ice, or a corkage fee for wine. For the most part, most places bypass these stipulations. BYOB is a great way to cut down on the cost of a meal and still enjoy that special bottle of wine without paying an arm and a leg.
As always, I like to start on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, the neighborhood that bills itself as “Worcester’s Restaurant Row.” There are a couple of places that encourage you to bring your own bottle. One of them is Paul Mac’s Diner, which may not seem like much of a diner today, but started out as one more than half a century ago.
This eclectic dining spot’s menu defies description, but leans heavily on Italian dishes. Paul McMahon and his son Chris man this funky eatery, which seems to grow each time I go by. What started out as a diner owned by “Paul Mac’s” father in the 30s, has turned into a mishmash of rooms and patios. The food is good, inexpensive, and there’s plenty of it.
The second spot is Zia Grill located at the upper end of Shrewsbury Street. Zia’s is owned by Paula McCarthy and serves Italian food, but includes several American entrees. Recently I had a 16-ounce rib eye served with two potato cakes and grilled asparagus with homemade Hollandaise sauce. Meals come with soup or salad. The price of my meal was $18. Prior to the main dish, I enjoyed a fig stuffed with goat cheese wrapped in Prosciutto that was roasted before serving. Most five star restaurants aren’t that creative.
There are other Worcester restaurants that offer BYOB. Over on Grove Street you have Lucky’s, which is located in the basement of the Northworks Building, next to the Courtyard by Marriott. They have a very reasonably priced menu which leans towards American dishes. All of the food is homemade. Lucky’s is open during the week for lunch, and serves dinner Friday and Saturday.
Café Espresso on Wall Street is another Italian restaurant that allows diners to truck in their libations. The extensive menu is all Italian and fair priced. Wall Street, for those unsure of Worcester, is off of Grafton Street on the city’s east side.
The Canal District’s entry into the BYOB category is Roma’s, which is new (opening the first week in July).
Roma’s is owned by Lanie Petrou and the chef is her husband Joe, who has owned several Worcester eateries. The menu here also leans heavily on Italian, with thin crust brick oven pizza a specialty. The restaurant has a full menu of specialties that Joe made famous at Primo’s Pasta on Shrewsbury Street and The Restaurant at Union Station.
This gives you a sampling of some of the places that offer BYOB. This is an economical way to enjoy Worcester dining without breaking the bank.