Determined to make the best pizza possible, the chefs of Elsa's Eatery traveled to Italy, New York, and Boston's culture-rich North End in the name of research. Upon returning to Shrewsbury, they went to work crafting the best Neapolitan-style pizza possible, hand-made each day. They top it with ingredients such as pesto-infused mozzarella, sliced meatballs, and grilled chicken, before sliding the pie onto an imported pizza stone and baking it to a perfect crisp. But Elsa's isn't just about pies—they also have an extensive menu with other gourmet Italian specials and steak and seafood entrees. Most recently, they have started to present brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, boldly defying the international ban non-Sunday brunches.
Tavolino is Italian for "little table." Noticing the trend of careless service and cooking that pervaded so many chain restaurants, the folks at Tavolino wanted to create a different kind of space—one where the chefs searched for the freshest local ingredients possible and where each "little table" felt supremely cared for. In addition to making their own breads and pastas, the staff infuses their own alcohols with fruits, herbs, and vegetables. The wine list was curated just as carefully, giving diners plenty of reasons to linger in the contemporary, earth-toned space complete with tile mosaic floors.
The crispy pizzas and artfully sauced pastas back up an entree selection that ranges from grilled lamb loin chops to stuffed italian meatloaf made with sweet sausage and served with housemade tomato-basil ketchup. A separate gluten-free menu ensures diners with special diets feel at home, just as the various seafood dishes on the regular menu ensure mermaids feel at home. In his search for the freshest flavors, executive chef Brian Boudreau frequently mixes up the menu with seasonal offerings; butternut-squash tortellacci, for example, summons the flavors of fall with brown-butter-sage sauce, dried cranberries, and an apple-cider glaze.
Bright reds and yellow oranges color the exterior of one Pepperoni Express location, signaling the tangy tomato sauce and gooey cheese commingling on pizzas inside. The other location sports reddish-pink walls, which resemble the spicy sausage that inspired the eatery’s name. In each kitchen, cooks make fresh dough each day, which forms the base of pizzas studded with ingredients such as shrimp, broccoli, and mushrooms. They offer a choice of more than 20 ingredients for build-your-own pies and rectangular 18”x24” party pizzas; rectangles suit parties because they have edges and thus are more likely to attract U2 guitarist The Edge. Pepperoni Express’s thin-crust pies brim with Italian ingredients such as olives, oregano, and prosciutto, as do italian authentic subs. Wine and beer can grant a hydrating reprieve for any dining session.
Al Dente's cooks pay homage to both Italy's Old-World dinner traditions and America's love of quick afternoon lunches. They make their own sausage, meatballs, and pizza dough in house, injecting authenticity into daily lunch specials that pair pizza slices and sandwiches with chips and soda. They prepare more robust entrees for dinner, including pastas and dishes featuring veal and chicken. For seafood, they embrace a variety of preparation methods, crisping up ocean-born delicacies in the fryer, sautéing them over noodles, or stirring them into bowls of stew. With the free WiFi, diners can stay up-to-date on the news and the latest styles in marinara stains.
The Pizza Shop @ South Natick renders hunger powerless with colossal slices of New York–style pie on hand-stretched dough shellacked with homemade sauce. Crust-lusters can build their own scrumptious circles ($10.50 plus $1.49 per topping for a large) from a list of favorite and offbeat ingredients such as ricotta cheese and meatballs. They can also sample specialty pizzas ($10.30–$20.90) such as the Godfather, an olive-oiled saga starring sliced tomatoes, grilled chicken, artichoke, romano, mozzarella, and the chef's questionably-cast daughter. The Spinocolli forgoes sauce in favor of sliced tomato on olive oil and garlic, with a spinach, broccoli, and mozzarella quilt for warmth. The extensive menu pleases diverse appetites, with calzones ($9.20–$15.30) and subs ($6.25–$7.25) taking up plate residence beside burritos ($7.25) stuffed with pulled pork, steak tips, or chicken.