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Worcester updates

  • Rick_V Oct 11, 2013 05:22 AM
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It's been a long time since I've seen anything on this board about New England's second largest city (!) so I thought I'd post some updates and suggestions.

Thai Time on Highland Street (run by folks who have a restaurant of the same name in Clinton) is the real deal: Thai food that tastes like it does in Thailand. Northern Thai dishes like larb and som tam, sometimes hard to find, are done very well. They've only been open since September and they're already packing 'em in. BYOB.

It's "pig fest" season at Via, a particularly good time to visit what might be Worcester's most consistent restaurant. Had a wonderful pork belly app there just last night: slow cooked, crusted with black pepper and fennel, served over a brussels sprout slaw with raisins. Nice stuff.

Across the street, Volturno keeps tweaking its menu and refining its service, generally for the better. Apart from Armsby Abbey, nobody in Worcester pays more attention to sourcing good, local ingredients than Volturno. It's a nice addition to the city.

Another relatively new Shrewsbury Street restaurant is 7 Nana. While I'm not into the teppanyaki table scene, they have some very nice seafood-based apps and do some sushi rolls that rival Baba. Baba's still the king of sushi in Worcester, of course, but 7 Nana has its charms, and is a bit more affordable.

Finally, I'll mention that I went to Corner Grille for the first time in a long time last week, and had forgotten just how good their pizza is when it's right out of the oven.

Worcester folks, what are you loving these days? I'd love to see the Worcester scene represented a bit more here.

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  1. Friends love Rosalina's Kitchen on Hamilton Street. Mari E Monti has opened in the Wall Stret building where they originally ran Caffe Espresso. Lakeside Grill offers good Pub food , especially the addictive onion strings.

    1 Reply
    1. re: trufflehound

      Yeah, Rosalina's is very appealing. A friendly, affordable, BYOB neighborhood Italian kind of place. Café Espresso (which also fits that same description) is alive and well in its new Chandler Street digs on the west side. It's amazing how many Italian restaurants are able to survive in this city.

    2. I've been hitting Oli's Eatery in West Boylston (just over the Worcester line) for lunch a lot lately. Great Italian food at a decent price, and I can't get enough of their Chicken and Tortellini dish with the tomato-cream sauce!

      1. Had a VERY interesting experience last night at Byblos, a Lebanese place in Union Station. 7pm on a Friday night and hard to get into a lot of places w/o a reservation. I had read about Byblos and decided to give it a shot.

        It's located on the opposite side of Union Station from Luciano's. Luciano's was hopping, with a large private holiday party that had taken over half of the atrium. We wandered over to find a spacious room, decorated in an eccentric and appealing way with dark, lurid colors -- completely empty. Oh, except for one person behind a long bar. She confirmed we were in the right place and invited us to take any table. Most of the seating was couches with low tables, good for drinks and apps. We took one of the few conventional dinner tables.

        The bartender became our waitress, and she started by explaining that they might not have everything on the menu. After she named a few things they were out of, we made our choices. Oops, they're out of those, too. Eventually, with some heavy hints from her, we chose a set of dishes that they were prepared to serve.

        "Oh, is there a wine list?" "Well, no, we drank most of the wine last night, but I think there are two kinds of red left." "Um, OK, please bring us a bottle."

        Everything was EXCELLENT. Rich, thick labny was served with exotically spiced olives and pita chips without charge. We had the best tabbouleh I've ever tasted -- almost no bulghur to speak of, just a touch of lemon and garlic, mostly silky, super-fresh chopped parsley and tomato. Wonderfully smoky baba, light and delicious hummus with very little tahini in it, and some very solid kibbeh. Everything was nicely presented and super-fresh.

        The tab for a wonderful meal for two with a nice bottle of Cab was $62 before tip.

        Turns out they're only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and while they open at 6, it's mostly a late-night crowd. But both our waitress and the chef, who came out a few times to deliver some bonus bites and see how we were doing, were very hospitable and clearly hoping we'd enjoy ourselves and come back. We definitely will.

        This is NOT a place for someone picky, since who knows what they'll happen to have. But if you are flexible and like really, really good middle eastern food, give it a shot. Oh, and I love the $1 parking in the Union Station garage, too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Rick_V

          PS Byblos seems to have gone out of business as of late February 2014. Oh, well.

        2. Rick--I'll second the Corner Grille. It is always consistently very good pizza!

          2 Replies
          1. re: hoffa2651

            Rick, can you post on Yelp to spread the love on Byblos? Love to try it when next in Wormtown. Thanks..Corner Grille is sublime...

            1. re: phelana

              Will do, Phelana.

          2. Does anyone know if charlie's Diner is still in operation? It used to be just past the Shrewsbury line (back in the Nineties, at least). I heard it moved. My dad and uncle used to love it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Westy

              Charlie's Diner has moved to Spencer, about 15 minutes west of Worcester and right off of Rt 9. They still have the original diner for breakfast and lunch, but they added an attached building for additional seating with a bar and also serve some pretty damn good dinners there most nights. I always found them to be pretty standard diner-fare but with the addition they have made their menu much more interesting with some really good eats!

              charliesdiner.com/‎

            2. My wife and I are moving to Worcester area from NYC. Totally clueless and looking forward to running down everybody's suggestions!

              6 Replies
              1. re: mvlee

                I think the Worcester dining scene is quite multi faceted, mostly with some amazing ethnic restaurants. Service can be spotty but if you go with a low key go with the flow attitude, you may have some great experiences. Other spots feature creative cuisine with great service. Sometimes you can branch out to the burbs for other experiences. My top 6 are:

                Baba for sushi in Worcester
                Sonoma in Princeton for special dinners
                Pomir Grill Afghani food in Worcester (slowwww service)
                Corner Grille for Pizza in Worcester
                Cafe Expresso in Worcester for pasta
                Shiraz for Armenian Food (spartan basic but very good home cooked cuisine)

                Enjoy!!

                1. re: phelana

                  Some good recs from Phelana. Baba and Pomir are particular favorites.

                  I think the best food in Worcester may be at Armsby Abbey. The hipster vibe and artisan attitude are not for everyone, but the food is meticulously sourced and prepared with skill and care.

                  Ceres Bistro at the Beechwood Hotel is consistently excellent, as is Via Italian Table. Bocado does a good job with tapas, and Volturno is worth trying for its Neapolitan pizzas and interesting appetizers.

                  Welcome to Worcester! "Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart -- you just gotta poke around."

                  1. re: Rick_V

                    I'll second all of Rick's recs that he just gave--spot on! I know its not Worcester, but in the town next to it in Shrewsbury is Willy's steakhouse and they have as good of sushi as Baba in my opinion

                    If you are looking for comfort/American Italian Dino's off of Plantation Street is usually solid.

                    For takeout Ciao Bella

                    1. re: Rick_V

                      I just went to Armsby Abbey with some freinds and had the best pigs ears ever they were in fact sprinkled with magic. We also got bone marrow and pigs feet, all specials on the menu. The marrow was natures' wonderful butter of the gods served caveman style with bread. But the pigs feet were a let down they were more like meat balls covered in bread crumbs. I think these were all specials so i might have to make a return trip for some ears!

                      1. re: Doveki

                        I want to like Armsby Abbey more than I do. Been there 5x across brunch and dinner. And it breaks my heart it isn't better than it is. Will keep trying until I run out of heart.

                        Crust however is excellent.

                    2. re: phelana

                      Running down your recommendations one x one.

                      Baba was definitely respectable.

                  2. I am really suprised that no one has mentioned DaLat on Park Ave in Worcester. It has really bare decor so don't go for mood lighting, but it's BYOB and their pho is my go to when I want some thing warm and comforting. The COM or rice plates with pork, any combomation are fantastic salty, crispy and juicy.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Doveki

                      I LOVE daLat and it's such a standby for me that i never think to bring it up. the tofu spring rolls are a frequent quick lunch or dinner for me and i get the Pho often as well.

                      has anyone checked out the new hot pot place in the former Kozara spot? i've never been to hot pot and am curious to check it out.

                      1. re: jmacd

                        Haven't checked it out yet but will make it a point now:
                        http://www.yelp.com/biz/chuan-shabu-h...

                        1. re: Jeremy01506

                          i can't wait to check this out. i've never been to hot pot so it'll be an adventure!

                    2. What does everyone like for Chinese in Worcester? The most consistent place around that I can find is Yong Shings in Auburn

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: hoffa2651

                        Following the advice of Chinese friends in Worcester, I go to Framingham to visit either Red Pepper or Sichuan Gourmet. Definitely worth the drive.

                        1. re: Rick_V

                          +1 for Sichuan Gourmet, Worcester and the surrounding area is a wasteland when it comes to decent Chinese food....

                        2. re: hoffa2651

                          BIG news for Chinese food lovers: Red Pepper has opened at Webster Square, in the old Chopsticks location. My Chinese friends say it's the most authentic Sichuan food you will find.

                          1. re: Rick_V

                            Been to Red Pepper. Asked the waitress to pick the dishes. Excellent.

                        3. I just need to make add this to this thread bc I love the place and wanted everyone to know =) my boyfriend and I love going to breakfast at the Corner Lunch, 133 Lamartine St Worcester.
                          I usually get the ham and eggs with poached eggs which are always cooked perfectly, beautiful silky and my boyfriend keeps raving about the pancakes. But last week we went in on Monday around lunch time, so I decided to skip my usual and get the Rubin, and by jove it was fantastic. Tangy, filled with delicious corned beef. It was quite large I ordered fries with it but didn't even end up eating them.

                          it's really just a fun woo place not fancy at all, there are fun clientel and the waitress is really great. It's right near Miss Worcester, but honestly I prefer the Corner Lunch