At the end of my dinner, I had an interesting conversation with the owner of Volturno, Worcester’s newest Italian/pizza restaurant.  He readily acknowledges that Volturno is not for everyone.  If you are looking for a Hawaiian or Meat Lover’s pizza, he noted, you might as well drive past Volturno.  There are many other pizza joints in Worcester that have exactly what you’re looking for.  If, however, you are looking for a foodies experience, you need to sample the pizza at this wonderful addition to the Worcester scene.  The architecture melds a 1930’s Buick showroom with a contemporary, European vibe, making Volturno both casual and cosmopolitan.   More impressively, Volturno does with its food what it has done with its atmosphere – bringing sophistication to the once humble pizza pie.  Baked in wood-fired ovens, the thin crust is spot-on perfect.  Distinctive toppings combine flavors and textures to delight the senses.  The pistachio pizza ($16), for example, combines pistachio pesto, crumbles of sweet Italian sausage, mozzarella and percorino cheeses.  Layers of complementary flavors dance around the mouth, the sweet sausage giving way to the nutty pesto.  Smoked mozzarella and paper-thin lemon slices alternate precedence when eating the lemone pizza ($14), the zesty lemon cleaning your palette with each bite. Each pizza generously feeds a single diner.  My recommendation, however, is to order multiple pizzas for the table and sample them all.  Each pizza features a unique combination of flavors, and each deserves to be tried.  If you are like me, your favorite will shift depending on which you happen to be eating at a given moment.  And, if you are like me, you might never be satisfied with a pedestrian Hawaiian or meat lover’s pizza again. -JD

Christmas shopping for fine art collectibles and inspiration at Vaillancourt Folk Art in Sutton, MA