The first Sorentos Italian Gourmet opened in Boston in 1988. It quickly won over locals, whose insatiable hunger for the restaurant's gourmet pizzas, Persian-inspired entrees, and plates of wine-kissed seafood inspired the Sorentos team to open a second locale in Marlborough in the summer of 2008. The timing of the addition was serendipitous—just half a year later, a neighborhood fire caused the Boston locale to burn to the ground, leaving behind nothing but fond memories and a lone calzone with especially crispy edges. Today, the Marlborough location works doubly hard in honor of its predecessor, drawing in crowds and high ratings from Zagat. Seated at tables draped in white linens, patrons can quell their cravings for the Mediterranean with appetizers such as fried calamari with red-pepper rémoulade; gourmet pizzas with toppings such as grilled chicken, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and gorgonzola cheese; and elegant entrees featuring Caspian trout, havarti-stuffed chicken breasts, and pecan-crusted lamb.
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.
Though Bistro 20 Restaurant & Tavern's contemporary dining room can accommodate more than 175 guests, its staff keeps the restaurant casual in the bistro tradition. Dark wood panels and a red-and-brown color scheme dominate the cozy interior, where soft lighting plays on photographs and Italian paintings or spills out from a fireplace like syrup from a newly tapped syrup bottle. Inside the kitchen, chefs craft Italian and American meals using ingredients such as housemade pasta, farm-fresh produce, and Maine grass-fed beef. They plate chicken piccata, grilled mahi mahi, and grilled grass-fed beef tenderloin alongside fruits de mer, braised lamb shank, and grilled steaks, and customize pizzas with up to 23 eclectic toppings.
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.
The Manor populates its eclectic menu with globally-inspired cuisine, from Greek and Italian fare to all-American steaks and burgers. Kick off comestible journeys or induce postmeal baa-ing with grilled Lollipop lamb chops served with mint jelly ($9.99). A platter of flaky spanakopita ($9.99) rolls to tables accompanied by a savory posse of rice, feta, tomato, and cucumbers, while Queen-cut prime rib ($14.99) is ushered to mouths flanked by baked-potato and coleslaw. Italian edibles include a rich lobster ravioli ($17.99), sautéed with portobello mushrooms in a pesto cream sauce over a bed of steamed spinach, and the American Cowboy burger ($8.59) is crowned with a 10-gallon hat of bacon, portobello, onions, and swiss cheese. The Manor also offers gluten-free preparations of certain items. With crisp white tablecloths, bright yellow walls, and a large fireplace, The Manor creates the ideal ambiance for dates, celebrations, or dated celebrations honoring the invention of the Pony Express.