Volturno in Worcester
Located in a former Buick dealership on Shrewsbury Street, Volturno is the closest thing Worcester has ever seen to Italy, despite the city's countless "Italian" restaurants. If you've spent time in Italy, a lot of this menu should seem familiar and promising to you:
It's stylish and simple, with an open floor plan and high ceilings. I was there on a Tuesday night and the place was buzzing. From among the "stuzzichini" (the menu had changed a bit from the pdf above) we had grilled calamari over chickpea puree, burrata with pistachio pesto and grilled bread, and duck proscuitto with arugula. Each dish exemplified Italy's approach of relatively simple combinations of high-quality ingredients.
We also had the vongole pizza -- a white pie with bacon, clams, ricotta, and fior di latte. The crust was soft and nicely blackened if a bit chewy -- I think they may need to either tone down the blazing ovens a bit or refine their dough approach to get it to more completely cook through. Still, it was better than any pizza I've had in central MA except for the late, lamented Flats.
Great wine list -- all Italian, interesting, and reasonably priced -- and about 8 beers on draft including Dogfish Head. Given the quality, location, and atmosphere -- and copious parking on Shrewsbury Street, no less! -- this place seems certain to succeed.
Having started this thread, I feel obligated to describe a very unsatisfying meal at Volturno last night. I'm hoping it was just a glitch rather than a trend.
The asparagus appetizer (which we enjoyed the week before) was delivered without its pancetta -- when we pointed this out, the waitress said she'd bring it out. 5 minutes later, when the dish had lost its heat, she brought out thin, fatty, strips of meat that tasted as if they'd been deep-fried in rancid oil. When we pointed out that the mostly-uneaten pancetta tasted bad, she didn't have much of a reaction. She apologized when she delivered the bill, but they STILL charged us for the dish. Bad form.
A pasta dish of garganelli, ham, peas, "foraged mushrooms," and cheese was nothing special -- a watery sauce lurked at the bottom of the bowl rather than tying the dish together. The dish was undersalted (when you don't have salt on the table, you should make damned sure your kitchen gets the salt right), the cheese almost nonexistent, and the mushrooms suggested the foraging was done at Shaw's or Price Chopper. The peas were nice, though, and the pasta cooked correctly.
The half Misty Knoll chicken was disapointing also -- it had been removed from the bone, which is fine, and the breast was nicely moist, but the skin was flabby instead of crisp, and the whole thing again sat in a watery sauce, very reminiscent of the pasta. Fava beans were a nice touch, but the advertised ramps were not present, and again it was undersalted.
Given that this was the Tuesday after Memorial Day, my guess is that management and/or the chef took the day off. If so, they need to pay a bit more attention. Volturno is very promising, and I'll give it another chance, but this visit was very disappointing indeed.
Finally had the chance to try this place.I try to wait a couple of months before a new place opens but this being my anniversary , both my wife and I are big pizza fans and I always wanted a real Neapolitan pizza place around here.We sat outside , the last table available. Two cocktails..blood orange Cosmo for my wife and I had Negroni(which seems to be popular these days). I too had the grilled calamari over the chickpea puree(hummus). Love the calamari not so much the puree. Then on to the pizza. We had the Funghi pizza. I am with you Rick_V about the dough but still better than any other pizza around here. I then had the lamb(not on the menu online.) I was cook to perfection with a couscous, fava bean mix. Vey good. The chef came from Tomasso's in Southboro . I was never a big fan of Tomaso's but everything coming out the kitchen here look good. I had food envy.The wine list was ok, I like Italian wine but my wife doesn't but we found a wine that we could share.Some of the reviews I have seen from other sites complains that this place is too expensive(which it is) and the pizza was Va bene (ok) due to the the lack of cheese on the pizza like traditional American pizza have. I hope Worcester can appreciate real Italian food instead the mediocre southern Italian American food that is severed nearby.The building, the food, the location, makes this place the perfect place to have a great dinner. I just hope the owners don't dumb it down(menu) for the non foodies. By the way, the service was good not perfect but we didn't really care. With 19 month old twins, we don't go out much anymore so this was a treat for us.
Glad you liked it. We went back a few nights after our first visit and had another great meal. Started with Venetian spritz con aperol, which were refreshing. The pork belly appetizer was exceptional, and the arancini were very nice also. We had a fish main course that was perfect -- crisp, seared skin and a thick filet that was cooked to just the right point, with nice sides. We brought a friend who was raised in Italy and he was very impressed, but agreed the pizza was a bit "soft."