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.
“Lasci il buon rullo di periodi,” reads the inscription over the bar at Pinocchio’s Ristorante. The phrase translates to “let the good times roll,” advice addressed to wait staff and patrons alike in the gently lit and richly colored dining room. Past the long, curving bar, rust-colored walls glow around golden sconces, and the smell of fresh tomatoes and sautéing vegetables fills the air. Drawing on generations-old family recipes and experience accrued during 25 years in the business, chefs at Pinocchio’s Ristorante craft a menu of pastas, risottos, and veal. In the kitchen, they slice paper-thin cuts of prosciutto, stir pots of truffle and cognac-reduction sauce, roast garlic, and whittle spaghetti down into angel hair. The din of pots and pans drifts behind the bar, where a cadre of mixologists whip up margaritas and martinis, ranging from the raspberry margarita to martinis made with van Gogh espresso vodka.
The culinary masterminds that brought Pinocchio’s Ristorante to Three Rivers have teamed up to bring another success, Gheppetto’s Grille, to Ware. Along with elegantly executed Italian fare, the restauranteurs wanted to add a touch of Americana to the menu, setting classics such as veal marsala next to wild-caught haddock wrapped in a crispy Ritz Cracker and panko breading. Fostering a festive environment ideal for an after-work cocktail or get-together with family and friends, the lounge entertains guests with a full bar lined with flat-screen TVs showing big, burly games. In the dining area, Gheppetto’s amicable staff seats guests at tables adorned with white tablecloths in a room of rustic browns and reds lit warmly under hanging lights. Supporting local artists, the eatery also enlivens its Thursday and Saturday evenings with live acoustic music.
At Café Manzi’s, which has been featured in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, owner Brian Manzi and Chef Eddie Esper craft a diverse dinner menu of Middle Eastern– and Italian-inspired cuisine. As diners arrive, the chef and friendly staff greet them from the open kitchen, where customers can watch their food sauté, or hop the counter to give appetizers a high-five. Commence meals with hummus tahini, a smooth marriage of ground chickpeas and tahini ($4.95 for a small; $7.95 for a large), before diving mouth-first into chicken port said, a mélange of sautéed chicken, mushrooms, garlic, and syrian pepper served with pilaf and vegetables ($17.95). Transport tongues to Italy with the ravioli, which can be customized with meatballs or italian sausage ($13.95). On the kids’ menu, chicken fingers and crispy french fries ($5.99) soothe the frazzled nerves of youngsters exhausted from balancing their checkbooks.