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Visit To Sturbridge

Last weekend, I was in Sturbridge, Massachusetts for a family wedding. The wedding itself was held at The Publick House and the catered food was standard wedding fare although the mini-lamb chops were great. I am told that the bakery attached to the place was excellent.

We ate at the Ugly Duckling one night and I very much enjoyed by calamari, Caesar salad, and prime rib. My companion did the steak and lobster and felt it fine but felt it was less of a portion than the $36 charged. The child had the spaghetti and pronounced it fine--or, in her words, "the best I've ever had."

The evening after the wedding, we went to Ernesto's, a small pizzeria, where we sat in the bar. The child and I shared a Casar salad (the kid loves them) and a Pepperoni pizza. It was excellent, probably because it was very close to the pizzas that I grew up eating in the Brooklyn of my youth. The companion had two appetitizers, the chicken wings and the mussels and said that both were good. It is a nice place and subject to crowds.

Before we left town, we went to Annie's Country Kitchen for breakfast where the adults had variations of omelets and the child had blueberry pancakes. Living in the DC area, I miss seeing these breakfast places that dot New England.

I am no gourmet but would like to start a discussion of what is worth trying in the Sturbridge area.

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  1. I could be out of the loop, but I've never heard of Ernesto's. Perhaps you meant Enrico's (which has the best pie in the area, easily)?

    1 Reply
    1. re: invinotheresverde

      It was Enrico's. The mind plays tricks when things aren't written down.

    2. i highly recommend stopping by the hyland orchard and brewery to sample some craft beer on tap. the tap room has weird hours (12-7) but the atmosphere there is really cozy and friendly, the beer is fresh and tasty. check their website for events too, they have some fun outdoor stuff in the summertime (bands, festivals, etc.)


      Pioneer Brewing Co
      195 Arnold Rd, Fiskdale, MA

      1 Reply
      1. re: goodbyeohio

        Mmmmm, Hyland Brew does have some tasty beers, and last time I was there you can get them on draft at Enrico's.

      2. I got recommend Kaizen Sushi Bar and Grill. Th eplace is just great! Rovessi's is good also. I'll second the comment on Annie's Country Kitchen. They make the best French Toast!

        5 Replies
        1. re: kunman

          As bookguy did, I"m headed out to a wedding at the Publick House next weekend. The wedding is Sunday, but we're arriving on Saturday so looking for some options for then. Sunday is all set, wedding is am with a brunch to follow and then another getogether for early evening on the grounds.

          I checked out Enrico's menu, but only their pizza and sandwiches shows up,on their website, so I just e-mailed them about their after 4:00pm options.

          Also thought about Rovessi's which is another option, as is The ugly Duckling..

          How about Vienna? Menu looks decent.
          I also looked at Cedar street, but that menu seems pretty limited, at least for me.

          http://www.thewhistlingswan.com/homep... Ugly Duckling

          1. re: hummingbird

            Hummingbird, I just recently posted a review about Kaizen Sushi Bar ad grill. here is the website http://www.kaizen479.com/
            Rovessi's is very good and I would recommend Cedar Street

            1. re: kunman

              Thanks, but neither of us do Sushi. Other two are possible options.

            2. re: hummingbird

              The Vienna is very good, but you'll definitely need a reservation on a weekend. It's a short drive from Sturbridge, but the Austrian fare is delicious and the portions are well worth the money paid. FWIW, the house beer there is Berkshire Brew, which is my favorite! (disclaimer: I haven't been in a couple of years but we have reservations in August for the full B&B experience).

              Cedar Street is highly recommended, their menu may be small but what they do they do REALLY well! If I could afford it, I'd dine there much more often...but I don't.

              Enrico's is mainly a pizza joint and I believe the sandwiches are for lunch only. But their pizza IMO is the best in the Sturbridge area!

              1. re: Jeremy01506

                Well just found out today we're invited to the rehersal dinner on Saturday. So we may just be doing a lunch before we get there, but that also may not be in the cards.

                oh well most of our meals will be on property.

                But thanks all for your input. All in allit will be an interesting weekend. But food aside plan to have a good time.

          2. I used to *LOVE* Baker's Fare in Stafford Springs, CT (not far from Sturbridge) but the place closed. I heard they moved to 'sun valley(?)' but the person who told me wasn't sure of the name herself, so, it's like a wild goose chase trying to find them.

            The Woodbine Country Store in Brimfield right on rt.20, was also very good, but, it changed owners. They had horrible service though and the new owners painted it all white inside, I havent been back since. They had the best chocolate milk, ever. not sure why!

            1. Another good restaurant, though I haven't been there is the Salem Cross Inn. It is on my list of restaurants to visit.

              There is also a bakery at Old Sturbridge Village. It is located on the public side of the village, near the store.

              The bakery at the Publick House is very good. We are looking at the Inn for a wedding and I've been sampling the food in the restaurant and the bakery.

              1 Reply
              1. re: litefoot

                Salem Cross being in the Sturbridge "area" is up for debate. It's a 20+ minute drive to get there.

                I grew up in Sturbridge, and family and friends still live there, meaning I'm there frequently. The places I wind up at:

                -Kaizen- really amazing, especially for the area, along with unbelievable prices and great service
                -Ugly Duckling for dessert- normally solid, although there was a minor problem last time
                -Rovezzi's- doesn't blow me away, as I've had much, much better Italian in Providence, but it's good for the area
                -Dark Horse Tavern (Southbridge)- I've only had drinks here, but I love the spot, along with the cute bartender
                -The Thai Place- unfortunately, I get dragged here frequently. The food is decent at best and not particularly authentic. It's probably the best in the area, but that's not saying much.
                -Churchill's for breakfast- really amazing grilled muffins
                -Enrico's- already discussed

                I like the Highland rec. above. I always seem to forget the brewery is open to the public. I need to get there more often.

              2. Although it is seasonal, we really enjoy Howard's Drive In in West Brookfield, MA (one of New England's most beautiful towns with a classic town common, historic homes, and a lake). It's about 15 minutes from Sturbridge, located on Route 9 just before the center of West Brookfield. Howard's offers 1 and 1/2 lobster rolls for under $13.00! Other great dishes include the lobster dinner with chowder, steamers, BBQ chicken, tuna roll, and, of course, ice cream!. The graham central station is the best ice cream choice with its mix of chocolate and graham crackers. The size of a small ice cream is like the size of a large at some other places. There's no outdoor dining here, just picnic benches, so choose a good day!

                1 Reply
                1. re: NewEnglandTravelDude

                  Howard's is on our favorites list, just for the onion rings that are thin sliced, and lightly battered, like a drive-in's should be. They have also started offering a flame broiled veggie burger and salads (Yea !) There is also a great deal for carnivores of 3 grilled hot dogs for $2.00

                2. you really missed out by skipping the bakery the the PH. outrageous desserts at 1/2 the price of bakeries in Boston. they had a 3 lb.apple pie (that's right - 3 lbs) for 12.95 -
                  also a cherry one of same weight for same price ! The pecan sweet rolls are addicting (we had them at a wedding reception there in the bread baskets and we took 6 back to the room for later).

                  1. I liked the atmosphere in The Ox Head Tavern, which is part of the Sturbridge Host Hotel.
                    There are no menus listed unfortunately. It has been about 5 years since I have been there, but it's a quaint spot and the food was okay. No complaints.

                    1. Kaizen's sushi is yummy. Rovezzi's makes some fabulous carpaccio, and we love the fresh bread and olive oil you get before your meal comes. The wine list could be better. The Castle in Leicester, right next door to Worcester and maybe a 25 minute drive from Sturbridge, is incredible. If you are a wine lover, that's your place to be. If you don't mind crossing the state line into Eastford, Conn., you MUST go to Still River Cafe. Omigod. It's incredible ... urban interior in a rustic setting. The New York Times gave it an extraordinary review, and Boston magazine raves about it in the current issue.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Frau Weisburgunder

                        I grew up in the Sturbridge area, and it's amazing to see how many restaurants have moved in since I left for college a little over ten years ago. We never had Thai food, or specialty pizza, or anything like that. Enrico's does make a mean pizza; we have gone over to the Copper Stallion pub on occasion--ie, before Thanksgiving--and they have good beer on tap and some tasty sandwiches.

                        1. re: sweetpeacooks

                          I left for college a little over twn years ago. The amount of restaurants is just crazy now, huh?

                          Class of '96?

                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                            Definitely. I grew up in Sturbridge, and since I graduated from college 11 years ago, I, too, have noticed a delightful restaurant scene renaissance in town. I'm thrilled it's spilled over into Southbridge, since that town is fighting a lackluster reputation. There are quite a few gems in this area if people are willing to explore instead of complaining, "There's nothing to do 'round here."

                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                              Yep, '96~since there weren't many of us, I imagine we know each other :)

                              1. re: sweetpeacooks

                                If you're talking high school, I'm three years older, but my husband is '96.

                                1. re: Frau Weisburgunder

                                  I just have to chime in with a 'me too' - I grew up in Sturbridge too (class of '90) and my parents still live there. I think it's neat to see other Sturbridge people on chowhound. :)