Made up of a team of culinary creatives, Niche Hospitality Group has carved out four hubs of gourmet extravagance in the greater Worcester area. Yet apart from belonging to the same parent umbrella, the restaurants show few commonalities. Each outpost champions its own distinctive vibe and cuisine, from Spanish tapas and modern Mexican dishes to classic American seafood and pizzas.
At Bocado, chefs showcase imported Spanish meats and cheeses in 40 hot and cold tapas, which favor complex flavor pairings such as bacon-wrapped scallops with white-truffle honey. Wines from an exclusively Spanish list and in-house sangria complement the small bites. While guests delve into the signature paella, they lounge amid rustic brick walls, curvy leather upholstery, and lighting as sultry and alluring as a chocolate sculpture of Marilyn Monroe.
The Citizen Wine Bar / The People's Kitchen / Still & Stir
The Citizen Wine Bar introduces newcomers to the finer things in life. There, a vast selection of wine, cheese, and chocolate combine and intermingle to awaken taste buds and deepen appreciation. In the same building, The People’s Kitchen anchors that triumvirate with a menu of house-butchered and dry-aged steaks, and Still & Stir’s mixologists invite visitors to wind down with old-fashioned cocktails served until 2 a.m.
Mezcal Tequila Cantina
Chefs at Mezcal don’t shy away from bold flavors. To wit: they whip up six globally inspired varieties of guacamole by hand, and toss southwestern shrimp scampi with tequila-butter sauce and pickled jalapeño. Dishes from Mexico and the southwestern United States combine with a checklist of aged tequilas to fuel long conversations and marathon sessions of Truth or Dare.
Rye & Thyme American Tavern
Situated in the 120-year-old historic Wood Block Building, Rye and Thyme has all the trappings of a classic American tavern. It’s a fitting locale for devouring wood-fired steaks, pizzas, and seafood, whose smoky flavors stand up to the bourbons and ryes that dominate the drinks menu.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
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.
A guitarist strums the opening chords of a first song, beckoning guests to abandon their drinks and gather on the dance floor. As local musicians tear through songs, patrons show off their moves late into the night, punctuating choreography with rounds of darts and games of pool at Beemers Pub. While a variety of weekly events fuel chatter in the dining room, the kitchen remains abuzz with chefs whipping up a menu of American pub fare. Hot wings crackle in oil and burger patties with slices of provolone or horseradish cheese sizzle against a grill. When there are no live musical performances, Beemers hosts trivia nights that reward groups for extensive sports knowledge or horrible accidents that left them with encyclopedias for hands.
Settled on the pastoral landscape of the Mohawk Trail, The Harley House Inn welcomes travelers with servings of familiar home-cooked fare, catered celebrations and weddings, or weekend getaways spent in lodgings styled after a country home. Guests dine on dishes culled from seasonal menus in the rustic confines of the intimate, 20-seat tavern, or sup among the rough-hewn wood-plank walls of the charming, folksy barn. Boarders laze in the shade of the gazebo, or amble through the private, wood-fenced garden lined with perennials like every American president's Mardi Gras tuxedo. Winter finds lodgers enjoying a library of CDs and movies, card games, or a drink before a roaring fireplace, while spring and summer see visitors strolling through the bordering parklands or sweeping trails of bread crumbs in nearby forests.