SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – After a long Labor Day doing work around the house, the last thing I felt like doing last night was cooking dinner, and as luck would have it, one of my clients was kind enough to send me a Via gift card as a thank you for getting her home sold so quickly so we headed off without a reservation to Via Italian Table in Worcester, where we had yet another fantastic meal.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on a holiday – whether a line out the door or an empty restaurant, but as luck would have it we had timed it just right. When we arrived at 6:00, there were only a few families there, and we were seated right away. Within a few minutes though, it had filled up pretty quickly, so I’m glad we go there when we did, and grabbed one of the prime spots outside.
The server greeted us right away and brought out menu and drinks without delay, shortly followed by some fresh baked bread and olive oil. It would have been nice to provide butter as well, but I actually like olive oil, albeit I would have preferred a very high quality oil with some garlic infusion. It was lobster week at Via, so you really can’t go wrong there. For appetizers, we ordered the lobster garlic bread, the pan-fried mozzarella, and the bruschetta. The Mozzarella was great, crisp on the outside, yet still nice and soft inside and was served with a nice tomato sauce. The other two dishes were ok, but really both suffered from the same problem, and it’s really the only complaint I’ve ever had with Via. The bread there is fantastic. It’s fresh, with a delightfully crispy crust, and if you’re serving it with some whipped butter it would be awesome. That said, they tend to slice it into 1 inch+ thicks “slabs” of bread, and those are just way too thick to use for most things. I feel a bruschetta should be served on thinly sliced toasted bread crisps, and either the mix should be in a bowl for the diner to apply themselves, or should be layered lightly on the bread and held in place with a dash of melted cheese. What we were served was basically a plate with these thick slabs of bread, and then halved cherry tomatoes in a vinaigrette with slices of parmesan. The taste was great, but it was a mess to try and eat absolutely impossible to cut. OK, on to all the great stuff….
My son Sam’s lobster fra diablo was fantastic. Just spicy enough to get your attention, and served on a bed of perfectly prepared pasta. Jesse had a lobster salad sandwich. Again the lobster salad itself was absolutely amazing, but way too much of that same bread. It was served with fries that were so yummy we took them home to snack on in the car. Jamie had the lobster risotto, with black truffle oil, and again it was a hit. Risotto is much harder to cook than most people think, and even harder to cook properly, and her’s was flawless. For me, I had the veal porterhouse steak, cooked medium. It was absolutely cooked to perfection, and served with a garlic butter that was amazing. Personally I would have preferred a veal rib eye, as I’ve never been a fan of the t-bone cuts that have tons of bone, but nonetheless it was perfect and I’d order it again tomorrow.
I was way too full for dessert, probably thanks to all the bread more than anything else, but Jamie and the boys ordered these adorable little ice cream cones filled with a sampler of different gelatto flavors, and those were gone in seconds.
Overall I give them an A for service, and an A for food quality. For ambiance, I think I’m going to eat inside next time just because of all the cars and motorcycles who seem to feel compelled to see if not having a muffler means they can still hit 80mph in the back alley behind the restaurant. In terms of value, we fed a family of four with lobster, appetizers, salads and desserts for $150 not including tip, and that’s really pretty good compared to what the same meal might have cost in Boston.
Via remains one of my personal favorites in the area, and I do look forward to getting back there sometime soon for another great meal.