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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts I fully admit that I am a food snob, especially when it comes to Italian. I grew up enjoying everything about Italian food – preparing it, eating it and appreciating it. I know they are popular, but The Olive Garden and Bertucci’s just don’t do it for me. When a new Italian restaurant comes to town, my first thought is that I want to bring my Grandpa LaRossa down from heaven to join me for dinner to go check it out.
He might not like me telling you this, but I had to drag my husband to dinner last week at Bistro Limoncello. He does not really share my love of all things Italian, at least in part because we cook Italian food well ourselves. I have asked him to go there several times in the year that the restaurant has been open, but I had to use the “It’s my birthday!” trump card in order to get him there. But once we stepped inside, I saw that “Uh-oh, I was wrong…” in his eyes. And it felt so good!
Bistro Limoncello is located on Rt. 20 in Northboro, in the strip plaza next to Lala Java. Owner Marc Turo is the great grandson of Leonardo Turo, owner of Turo’s Market which opened in Worcester over 100 years ago after Leonardo came here from Italy with his six sons. Later, Marc’s father and brother opened Leo’s Ristorante just across the street, and Leo’s has become a flagship restaurant on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester.
As you enter Bistro Limoncello, you feel like you were just transported to the North End of Boston. The bar is cozy and dark and romantic nice music playing. There are several lounge chairs around the room in addition to the bar seats which adds to the cozy feel. We were seated at what I’d consider the best table in the dining room which was in a corner against a quiet wall. The dining room is warm and refined with Tuscan shades of burnt orange, sunflower yellow and black amid the dark wood tables and chairs. The lighting was just right. A favorite Frank Sinatra song started playing and I knew I was in heaven…I could not wait to try the food.
We perused the menu while my husband enjoyed a martini and I a glass of a featured Super Tuscan wine. The menu includes all the Italian sauce favorites – veal parmesan, chicken marsala and a few interesting seafood mélanges with garlic, lemon and butter. Our pleasant server, Natalie, told us of the several specials that evening. They included a filet mignon and a few fresh seafood options. We started with the Shrimp Limoncello; an appetizer portion of large shrimp, garlic, butter, lemon and parsley which melted in our mouth. We then each had a salad. I enjoyed the caprese of buffalo mozzarella while hubby went for the caesar. My husband was delighted with the fresh anchovies on his and I am always enchanted with fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
I was tempted by the Veal Braciole in deference to my Grandpa LaRossa who made them for family dinners throughout my childhood, but I went with one of my all time favorite main courses which is the veal saltimbocca. I have loved this dish since I was a young girl and I never tire of it although I have probably had it 100 times in the North End. Bistro Limoncello’s version was tender and had just the right amount of each ingredient to create the ‘perfect bite’. Hubby went uncharacteristically red sauce on me and chose Uncle Patsy’s Stuffed Calamari. He devoured it and I tried a bite too. They were created using whole calamari tubes stuffed with a breadcrumb mixture that contained a bit more chopped seafood. Interesting and delicious for sure. Each of our dishes came with a side of pasta which took a distant second place to the beautiful presentation and aromas coming from each main course plate.
As if we had not eaten enough, it was my birthday after all and so I had to treat myself to some dessert. Natalie offered us a beautiful tray of treats which included tiramisu, chocolate cake and cheesecake, among others. I went against my usual choice of tiramisu and got a white and dark mousse/gelato parfait which was delectable. Hubby chose cheesecake and it was gone in about 3 minutes which is his way of saying it was good.
We sat at our cozy table for about 2 hours in total and I truly didn’t want to leave. I can’t wait to go back… and my husband even said he’d come with me.
Review by Michelle Taupier