Featured in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette as a neighborhood pizza staple, family-owned P&D Oxford House of Pizza decorates 19 specialty pies in a livery of savory toppings while dishing out platters of toasty Italian fare. The Inferno pizza ($8.50–$14) coaxes taste buds through a doughy ring of fire spackled with pepperoni, sausage, and hot peppers, and the Athenian's garlic butter sets the gustatory stage for grilled chicken morsels dressed in spinach togas and feta-cheese helmets ($8.50–$14). Patrons can choose their own pizza adventure with a slew of toppings, including broccoli, meatballs, and bacon. P&D's toasted grinders, such as the steak- and mushroom-laden "Flynn-IE" ($6–$7.50), deepen the roster of handheld edibles, and homemade lasagna ($6.25) leads a hearty caravan of pasta dishes. Guests can defer to the bistro’s free Internet access to settle dinnertime disputes over whether pasta was first invented by China, Italy, or Marlon Brando as a way to pass the time on the set of The Godfather.
The large wood columns sprouting from the weathered wooden bar evoke the belly of a ship—no doubt a hat-tip to the pub’s namesake, the highly decorated Navy Admiral TJ O’Brien. The menu lets seafood and steaks romp beneath cloaks of sauce, on steaming pastas, or between slices of bread. Draft pints fill with suds from local breweries including Opa Opa and Bentley, and wineglasses shiver to the pulse of live music on Friday and Saturday. On the wrap-around porch, patrons loosen belts while trying to glimpse the Quinebaug River Reservoir or spot a majestic submarine periscope grazing in its natural habitat.
Chef Buck of Buck's Roadside BBQ smokes beef, pork, and chicken with fruitwood and seasons each juicy cut with house-made dry rubs and sauces made from scratch. As proteins such as beef brisket or pulled chicken pile atop platters for two, cornbread squares swap crumbs and numbers with sides including mashed sweet potatoes, collard greens, and baked beans. Five sauces stored in squeezable bottles coat meats and fingers before greeting taste buds with sweet and intriguing knock-knock jokes.
Though he’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America whose resumé spans stints across the U.S., Brian Treitman has never lost his affinity for one food—roadside barbecue. At B.T.'s Smokehouse, Brian pays homage to multiple styles of Southern barbecue, starting with dry rubbing each cut of meat, from the pork shoulder and beef brisket to both types of ribs, in a blend of spices. He then places the slabs into a Southern Pride smoker, where the velvety plumes from local apple and hickory wood slowly cook the meat for up to 14 hours.
The cuts emerge with a crisp, blackened exterior surrounding a juicy, fall-apart-soft interior, and are plated with cornbread and sides such as collard greens and mac ’n’ cheese. Brian's approach has earned him a loyal following, a spot on Worcester'sBestChef.com's 2011 People's Choice Awards, and at least two awkwardly long hugs from diners.