Bella’s chef Gio Calapi, a second-generation restaurant owner, mixes Old World wisdom with contemporary creativity to furnish a menu of authentic Italian eats. Diners can peruse first-course favorites such as the wild-mushroom-and-parmesan risotto ($8) before carrying on with a classic caprese salad ($9).
To create their authentic Italian flavors, the cooks at LaCucina Restaurant don't import ingredients from Italy. Rather, they rely on locally sourced fixings, such as the little-neck clams they toss with handmade linguini and a choice of red or white clam sauce. Plenty of other dishes showcase seafood, too, including capellini topped with 1.25 pounds of lobster, only 103.75 pounds shy of qualifying for the high-school wrestling team.
The eatery's other old-world specialties center on different proteins, from veal coated in white-wine demi glace to chicken breast stuffed with lobster meat and dried cranberries. Served amidst touches of exposed brick and paintings of the old country, feasts can be complemented by reds and whites from LaCucina's extensive wine bar.
Owner Randy Price curates a creative menu of New Haven–style "apizza" in more than 30 styles. His team crafts fresh dough daily using unbleached flour, creates sauce from handpicked Italian and Chilean tomatoes, and sprinkles pies with cheese from home-schooled cows. The famous Challenger—a 22-inch pizza stuffed with a mélange of vegetables and meats that weigh in at nearly 10 pounds—presents the hungriest visitors with a challenge to conquer the hot wheel in an hour or less, a feat that has earned a place on the Travel Channel's Man Vs. Food roster of surmounted food battles.
Reali's Fine Italian Cuisine's owner and chef, Jim Reali assembles meats, pastas, and sauces into hearty Italian creations using cooking skills first cultivated when he was 16 years old. Diners choose between upscale offerings such as veal and chicken parmigiana or call the waiter via foghorn to order seafood selections. Downpours of rich tomato sauce cascade over pastas, and, as meals unfold, eaters can repurpose pieces of penne as straws to sip white, red, and blush wines sourced from domestic and international vineyards.
Each dish that leaves executive chef Robert Hennemann’s kitchen is made from scratch. He ladles housemade sauce over breaded chicken breasts and puffs up ravioli with a hefty infusions of cheese. Servers cart platefuls of broiled scallops and house-cut sirloin to tables topped with lace cloths that can double as veils for impromptu weddings.
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.