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.
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.
At Brothers Pizza, one of the pizzas could almost pass as a taco. It comes crowned in chips, salsa, sour cream, and taco-seasoned hamburger. Others evoke vacations, like the Maui studded with pineapple, bacon, and ham, or the Greek Style loaded with feta and spinach. Other Italian dishes complement the eclectic pies, too, such as homemade lasagna and the eggplant-parmesan pasta dish.
Owner Brian Manzi found a love for cooking as a child spending time in a pizza shop owned by his grandfather. Today, Café Manzi's is still a family business where Brian works with his younger brother and sister, CJ and Leanne, as well as a part-time staff made up of extended family members Manzi shares. Their cozy Shrewsbury Street business began as a breakfast and lunch destination serving a medley of American, Italian, and Middle Eastern specialties. Popular favorites such as peanut butter pancakes and homemade meatballs earned the restaurant a following, and after nearly a year in business, Manzi expanded his menu to serve Middle Eastern fare during dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The kitchen staff sears meat for kebabs in an open kitchen so that patrons can wave hello to their soon-to-be entrees. A BYOB policy allows customers to bring along a favorite beer or wine. The restaurant's interior can accommodate 50 people, and sidewalk tables showcase alfresco meals in warm months. Café Manzi also creates sumptuous spreads for special events with a catering service, and hosts banquets inside the restaurant for private parties or coronations.
At Chiodas Trattoria, chefs draw on generations-old recipes to craft authentic Italian dishes in a genuine trattoria atmosphere reminiscent of American cafes and French bistros. To create the chicken gorgonzola, they toss chicken medallions and potato gnocchi in a creamy gorgonzola sauce with sun-dried tomatoes. They also specialize in authentic entrees such as veal parmigiano, fettuccine alfredo, and frutti di mare—shrimp, scallops, calamari, and mussels sautéed in wine sauce and served over linguine.
Porto Bello devotes much of its menu to the northern and southern cuisines of Italy. Sea-fare-loving seafarers can begin their voyage with mussels doused in a broth of white wine, butter, lemon, and olive oil ($10.95) before diving palate-first into the Maine lobster ravioli, a lobster- and cheese-stuffed dish named for America's most ravioli-filled state ($22.95). Other entrees include the chicken saltimbocca, with prosciutto, portobello mushrooms, mozzarella, spinach, and roasted-garlic sauce forming a belly-pleasing brigade ($16.95), and the portobello mushrooms, served over penne pasta and accented by red-pepper-mascarpone sauce mined from local sauce mines ($13.95).