Twice this holiday season I have driven west to Worcester, MA to go treasure hunting at the Crompton Collective. If you haven't been, it is one of my absolute favorite places to find unique, handmade and vintage gifts. Normally, after a successful outing at Crompton, I head to Armsby Abbey for brunch or lunch. However, on my most recent trip, a friend recommended we mix it up and have lunch at Volturno instead.
Volturno is located on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, sandwiched between Sweet and Wormtown Brewery. The restaurant has a free parking lot, making it super easy to get to.
When we walked in, the first rows of tables (by the hostess stand) were cafeteria-style. It's easy to imagine big groups or families with small kids climbing in and sharing a few pies.
The dining room is spacious and gets tons of natural light.
There's also a big bar in the center of the space, perfect for grabbing a beer and watching a Patriots, Celtics of Bruins game.
We were seated right in the front window. On that day it was particularly sunny, so we actually had to ask our waitress to lower the shade so we could see each other!
I started out with an ice tea. One of my friends ordered a cocktail called the ZenZero (which apparently I forgot to photograph) which was vanilla vodka, pumpkin shandy, ginger and bitters. After a few sips she said, "This is a really great fall drink. It tastes mostly of vanilla, which is lovely and delicious."
To begin, two of the girls shared the appetizer special which was arancini bolognese.
Though the dish looked super tasty, the pesto sauce underneath turned out to be quite muted. A friend commented, "Nothing about these really stand out."
Conversely, I had one of the best starters I've had in a while! I ordered the squash bisque. A server brought it to the table and at first I was confused. He placed a bowl of garnishes in front of me, but there was no sign of the soup.
A moment later he poured the bisque from what looked like a Swell water bottle. His pouring technique was ever so precise and it made the dish feel really special.
Because it was poured tableside, the green apple, pumpkin seeds and the sage leaf all stayed nice and crisp. This dish was a total home run!
Next we decided to share two pizzas. Volturno makes their pies in the classic Neapolitan style. First we tried the burrata pizza, topped with arugula, radicchio, olives, basil, garlic and of course, a giant ball of burrata.
Can we discuss this generous portion of cheese? I didn't hate it.
All three of us could not get over how tasty this pizza was! It was extra surprising because this pie has no sauce. Honestly, we didn't miss it. The burrata was so fresh and creamy and the greens were the ideal compliment.
Our second pizza was the bianca, which was ricotta, mozzarella, garlic confit, caramelized onions, green onions and a fried egg.
Look at that expertly cooked egg! I don't know about you, but I love egg on pizza.
While this flavor combination sounded good in theory, it wound up being kind of under whelming. It couldn't compete wth burrata pizza and it was over seasoned (way too much red pepper!).
On the side, we also shared the broccolini, cooked with garlic, chili and olive oil. I am not a huge broccolini fan, but my two lunch dates loved this preparation. One chimed in, "I love that they cook these in the oven, just like the pizza. They have such a nice garlic taste and a kick from the pepper."
Volturno does serve dessert (including a Nutella pizza), but they are right next door to a bakery called Sweet. We decided to pop over and split a few things. We shared a chocolate peanut butter tart, a toasted coconut cupcake and donuts with caramel dipping sauce. #gluttony
If you find yourself in the Worcester area, definitely make time for the squash bisque and the burrata pizza at Volturno.