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.
Brick walls and wooden ceiling planks reflect a warm earthen red in the glow of old-fashioned street lamps at Northworks Bar & Grille, which is entering its 34th year of business. A carousel-style painted horse hangs from one of the exposed rafters as if in homage to the bar's offerings of free popcorn at each table. The menu catalogs such whimsical combinations as lobster mac and cheese, plus stuffed sandwiches and half-pound burgers––ordering 40 and stuffing them in a pillowcase can render 20-lb dumbbells unnecessary. The chef further demonstrates skills by preparing fresh salmon and scallop entrees, as wells as the N.Y. sirloin steak drenched in the house's classic Jack Daniels sauce. The team also curates a gluten-free menu, which offers thin-crust pizzas and Redbridge beer, or the paperless menu, which was covertly drawn on the server's forehead as he slept.
A warm orange and red light illuminates Ritual, tinting its brick-accented walls and exotic statues an inviting ruby. Flickering candles and the glow of flat-screen televisions add to the romantic, yet contemporary atmosphere, where the trendy decor is rivaled only by an eye-catching menu of American-fusion cuisine. Globetrotting meals commence with small plates of chocolate-dipped applewood bacon or waygu beef, which diners sear over a hot rock or the grill they keep in their wallets. Chicken marsala and bacon-wrapped filet mignon represent a portion of the more traditional entrees, but dishes stretch as far as the bounds of the chef's imagination, including an award-winning seared duck breast double-coated with crushed cocoa beans and a hazelnut-chocolate demi-glace.
Swirls of sauce and fresh orchid blossoms adorn entrees at Hirosaki Prime, where chefs craft traditional and contemporary Japanese dishes. At tabletop grills throughout the 54-seat hibachi room, they blend cooking and performance in a showy display as they sauté vegetables and seasoned meats. In the smaller lounge, alit with votive candles, otherworldly artwork, and walls inlaid with a soft red glow, guests can sample other Japanese dishes such as chicken teriyaki, as well as specialty sushi rolls such as the Ninja roll, whose shrimp tempura, cucumber, and spicy tuna hide in plain sight.
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.
Animated by a passion for cuisine rich in nutritional value, the purveyors at Nu Cafe unite savory sandwiches with wholesome smoothies and coffee to offer guests a sweeping spectrum of satiating treats. Hungry guests can tastily abate cravings with one of Nu Cafe’s paninis, such as the Piegga Fresca, loaded with a scrumptious blend of tomatoes and mozzarella ($6.79), or the provolone-packed turkey melt, served with bacon, tomato, and veggie cream cheese ($6.99). Test a boastful straw against a 20-ounce Berry, Berry Good smoothie ($4.25), or perk up during dragging daytime doldrums with an espresso-infused Americano ($1.65–$2.30), which can be served hot, iced, or preserved behind glass. While sipping a beverage or nibbling a ’nini, you can tap dance down the information superhighway on Nu Cafe’s complimentary WiFi network, where millions of message boards are dedicated to determining whether focaccia is a fruit or a vegetable.