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Hot & Now: June 2019

Hot & Now: June 2019

Paul Giorgio

Summer fun. It’s once again time for Worcester’s unofficial kick off to summer. The annual Taste of Shrewsbury Street takes place on Tuesday, June 18 from 5 to 9 p.m. on Worcester’s Restaurant Row. Join the biggest Block Party in the city with food tastings and live music. Buttons are $25 and free for kids under 10. The money raised goes to the beautification of Shrewsbury Street.

Visit the Valley. A new event the Blackstone Valley Restaurant Week kicks off on Monday, June 3 and runs until June 15. Eat at about a dozen Blackstone Valley Restaurants with a special three course menu for $25.19. Visit or Facebook for a list of participating restaurants and menus. The event is sponsored by Pulse Magazine, The Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce, Pepsi Worcester & Cantiani/East Douglas Insurance.

Seasons. The Four Seasons Restaurant, a long-standing landmark on Worcester’s Lake Ave. will soon be torn down to make way for a new development. Owned by the Potenti family for over 40 years, the restaurant was known for its Italian food and open steak sandwich.

Simple Simon met a Pie Man. Worcester’s Table Talk Pies took home eight first prizes in the recent National Pie Championship in Orlando, Florida. 728 pies were judged in a host of categories. Now America knows what we have always known – Table Talk Pies are the best!

Check the night sky. The Children’s Friend Society of Worcester hosts its annual Big Dipper ice cream festival on Saturday, June 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Worcester’s Elm Park.

What’s the point? Save Point Tavern a new video bar/restaurant will soon be opening in the space now occupied by Grille 57 on Worcester’s Highland Street.The Tavern will be owned by Brian Huff and will feature vintage games.

Ditto for Shrewsbury Street. It appears that a second video game bar will be opening on Worcester’s Shrewsbury Street in the not too distant future. It will be located behind Mexicali Grille.

Baba Sushi, a real hotspot. Baba Sushi, a hotspot for sushi on Worcester’s Park Ave recently was closed due to a fire. No word on a reopening date

It’s in Black & White. The owners of the Black & White Grill in Spencer will be opening their second location soon. Rumor has it that they will be opening a new restaurant at the location of the former Keepers on Route 12 in West Boylston.

Coming home. Wachusett Brewery recently announced that they were returning to their roots by opening another brewery and tap room in Worcester’s Canal District just steps from the new Polar Park. The tap room will be located in the public market space of the Harding-Green Development at Kelley Square.

New in the Woo: Punch Pops

New in the Woo: Punch Pops

Rachel Shuster

Created by two Worcester natives, Punch Pops are the childhood favorite freeze pops with a grown-up twist.

Friends turned business partners, Nassim Aoude and Michael Melkonian went to high school together at St. Peter Marian, stayed friends through college and beyond once they graduated and ventured into the working world. “I started a company and Michael went into the finance industry,” Aoude said.

Then one guys’ weekend changed everything. “We had a guys’ trip to the beach and that’s when we came up with idea in August 2017,” Aoude said. “We ran out of cups and someone needed a place to put alcohol, so we poured it into an empty freeze pop and the idea sparked from there.”
Once the idea was born, Aoude and Melkonian got to work. “We spent the next eight months working on the product, becoming flavor scientists and learning the ins and outs of flavor development,” Aoude said. “We did market research and knew there were other products out there, but we experimented and explored how we could do it better. We were proving out the concept, testing with friends and family, testing over 10,000 pops, types of alcohol, flavors, etc. We wanted to bring more quality and affordability.”

Aoude and Melkonian were very particular about the flavor development during the experimental process. “We are big into candy and both have a sweet tooth, but we wanted them to not be too sweet,” Aoude said. “We are firm believers in quality and that is what will take this a long way. We made sure that was really good. We wanted to make it as perfect as possible.”

From there, Aoude and Melkonian began finding manufacturers, went through the process of licensing and did a soft launch in Florida, partnering with Total Wine stores. “This spring, we are doing a proper, large scale launch in MA, CT and RI,” Aoude said. “In addition, we will launch an e-commerce component, where we can ship directly to the consumer in just under 30 states.”

Punch Pops are 7.5% ABV alcohol, 88 calories, and 0g fat, so slurp up (Responsibly of course!). The alcohol in the pops is a wine made from oranges called Other Than Standard Orange Wine (OTSOW). They are also, vegan, dairy and gluten free, containing no artificial colors or sweeteners, using real cane sugar.

“Once we got a good base down for the recipe, we wanted to hit those major nutritional points,” Aoude added.

Punch Pops are half a standard drink each. “They are easy to drink, which people need to be cautious of,” Aoude said. “We tried to stay on the lower side to maintain responsible drinking, but it’s enough to keep the party going.”

Punch Pops currently come in a lemon ice flavor only, but there are plans to come out with more flavors in the future. “We have many additional flavors in the works. Stay tuned!” Aoude said. Punch Pops come 12 in a box and cost $19.99, and some places sell singles for $1.99, but pricing may vary in different areas.

For more information on Punch Pops, visit

Galliford’s Restaurant & Tavern

Galliford’s Restaurant & Tavern


Bernie Whitmore

Galliford’s Restaurant & Tavern
5 Southwick Street, Mendon, Massachusetts
(508) 928-0928

Dinner at Southwick Zoo? Cue visions of hot dogs steaming in the mid-spring drizzle as we take refuge from the cold in the monkey house. That sounds fun, let’s go!

That spirit of adventure was tempered after some research, when I learned that the Southwick Zoo has their own tavern and restaurant, Galliford’s. Their menu is loaded with items I’d be happy to select. Burgers and weenies are still available, but in smaller venues scattered around the zoo.

Getting to Southwick Street meant a straight-shot down Route 146 followed by a series of turns on winding country roads. Just when I thought we’d lost our way, the evening gloom was pierced by a large digital sign flashing blinding white light: Galliford’s! We had arrived.

The large parking lot was packed with cars, it looked as if everyone in Mendon had shown up on that mid-week evening. The restaurant is situated at the bottom of the gently sloping parking area; beyond it the zoo extends for hundreds of acres. As we walked towards the entrance, the silence of the countryside was torn by animal shrieks. Monkeys?

On entry into Galliford’s we departed the Mendon wilderness and returned to the routine world of informal dining. A large lounge/bar area was crowded with people; beyond it was a dining room with heavy wood tables and chairs. The entire side of the restaurant looking out on the zoo was an enclosed patio featuring Galliford’s most popular tables. It was packed.

Southwick Zoo goes back to the early 1960’s. It has a pleasing non-corporate ‘indie’ feel to it. I rather suspected the restaurant would share some of those funky flourishes. But that is not the case, Galliford’s is just a couple years old and feels contemporary in the best of ways.

Mariah, our server, set us up with menus and answered all of our questions: Where do the animals go in the winter? Some are rented for the months of zoo operation. Was it always a zoo? It started as Southwick Wild Animal Farm. How many shrimp in the Firecracker Shrimp appetizer? Five. Ok, we’ll share an order.

The last time I ordered Firecracker Shrimp I was very impressed. Galliford’s take on the dish was even better. Extra-large juicy shrimp were coated with honey sriracha glaze and fried till gooey-crisp on the outside whilst the meat remained perfectly moist and tender. The order of five was ideal for sharing: satisfying but not filling.

In states south of Massachusetts soft shell crabs are very popular. For some reason they’re rarely served here, so when I found them featured on Galliford’s Entrée Specials I knew I had to have the Fried Soft Shell Crab Sandwich.

They took a large crab, seasoned the entire specimen (paper-thin shells included) with Old Bay-seasoned panko crumbs and deep fried it until it was deep-golden brown. Then they served it in a tender brioche bun topped with coleslaw, zesty remoulade sauce and baby greens. Each bite was crunchy and tasty with plenty of white crab meat. It was served with crackly home-fried potato chips and a pickle. I enjoyed the sandwich with a glass of Smuttynose Mysterious Haze, a New England IPA that balances hoppy bitter flavor with citrus and hints of tropical fruit. Galliford’s pours a nice tall glass. Come the warmer months this meal will be perfect out on the deck in the sunshine.

My dining companion, ever a lover of beef, selected Galliford’s New York Sirloin and enthusiastically dug in. His critique, “It’s a boneless sirloin, nice and thick, perfectly cooked steak with a nice char on the outside but pink and juicy inside. Great flavor! The fresh string beans and asparagus are wonderful!”

When it came time for dessert I was ready to take a pass. Then Mariah suggested Flourless Chocolate Cake and dessert regained its allure. Galliford’s flourless chocolate cake is a flat pie-shaped wedge, drizzled crazily with chocolate syrup and served with drifts of whipped cream. Its center was lustrous dark chocolate, creamy and rich and edged with a crispy-crusty thin shell. We devoured it so fast that Mariah chided our enthusiasm.

On paper, the concept of establishing a higher-end restaurant to anchor a venerable family enterprise seems risky to me, especially given its outlying location. But, as we saw with Slaters at Indian Ranch, it undeniably works. In fact, I suspect Galliford’s Restaurant might be the jewel in the crown of Southwick Zoo. But you won’t find me trash-talking like that in the monkey house.



Although not truly “New” in the Woo, Glamour Bombonier Brazilian Sweet Shop has some exciting things happening in 2018, including — hopefully — a new sweet shop.

Rayanne Sabara is the founder and owner of Glamour Bombonier, offering her delicious Brazilian sweets to the city of Worcester and beyond.When I say, “beyond,” I truly mean it. Sabara has shared her sweet treats all the way to “La La Land” via the Oscars for the past three years. The 90th Academy Awards on March 4 will be her fourth time serving up her sweets for Hollywood’s biggest celebrities.

[Read More…]




Hot dogs and potato chips are long-time staples at George’s Coney Island in Worcester. What you won’t see on the Southbridge Street restaurant’s menu is the “can’t be missed” huge serving of nostalgia that dates back 100 years. From the 60-foot neon sign that has adorned the landmark restaurant since the 1940s to the wooden booths complete with name carvings, the eatery has been an integral, mainly unchanged, part of downtown Worcester and people’s hearts. [Read More…]

80 Years in Business

80 Years in Business

Worcester’s iconic Boulevard Diner on Shrewsbury Street celebrated 80 years of operation June 14. The diner has been operated by the George family, with the third generation now getting old enough to run the place. Congratulations to Jimmy George and his family. We still miss Ringo – Jimmy’s father.