Pasta Carbonara from Via on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA

While many diners might frequent Via Italian Table on Worcester’s Shrewsbury Street for a hearty dinner, it would be a mistake to forego the diverse Sunday brunch experience. Via boasts a wide array of breakfast-to-lunch options with unique finds such as lemon ricotta pancakes and porchetta eggs benedict.

My meal began with piping-hot-out-of-the-fryer zeppole: small Italian donut holes made in-house and dusted plentifully with sugar and cinnamon. Mildly sweet and doughy on the inside, these proved quite a naughty and irresistible way to start the day — everyone at the table was licking their fingers. My main course was a dense pasta carbonara with crisp English peas and house-cured pancetta slices. The spaghetti was cooked al dente and garnished with pea shoots which helped cut the heaviness of the garlic cream sauce.

The highlight of the meal, however, was when my generous neighbor offered me a slice of her smoked salmon plate. This is the dish that will bring me back for more! Rustic toast rounds accompanied by a generous selection of smoky lox, capers, sliced red onion, a lemon wedge, fresh dill, and a mustard crema. The flavor of the smoked salmon was unparalleled – really, the best I’ve had — and the mustard crema in lieu of traditional cream cheese was a welcome surprise. Given the impeccable service and beautiful ambiance dining al fresco amidst a plethora of hanging flower baskets, I will have to return to Via….next time, however, the smoked salmon plate is mine all mine.