Pork Chop from Volturno on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, MA

I know; going to a place known for their classic Neapolitan pizzas and not order a pizza? “What kind of foodie do you pretend to be,” you might ask. Well, that is a fair question, however, sometimes straying from the path will yield great results. This just so happens to be what happens when you stray from the pizzas at Volturno. In fairness, I’ve been to this Shrewsbury Street restaurant countless times since it opened just a few short weeks ago. Each time, grazing on their vast selection of truly unique pizzas—never finding one that I wouldn’t order again. But, I digress; the “other” items on the menu are worth a story of their own.

There is a certain stigma with Pork Chops—packed with flavor, it is easy to get a piece that is fatty and, if not a prime cut, with a large amount of connective tissue to keep your jaw hard at work. This pork, locally raised, was served in an unexpected manner: sliced (not dissimilar to steak tips) and prepared over a white bean puree with shredded Brussels sprouts spread on top. The pork was grilled, which presented a very flavorful charring on the outside, but with a perfectly cooked medium revealed in the meat (I would, however, recommend having it prepared medium-rare).

The seasoning that enhanced the Brussels sprouts intertwined perfectly with the flavors of the meat and texture of the white bean puree. What brought everything together, however, was the vin cotta: a dark, sweet dense condiment created from a reduction of red wine—a staple of the Apulia region of southeastern Italy.

Would I recommend deviating from the Neapolitan pizzas? No, but, instead, start with both a pizza and bruschetta (even if you are dining alone) as an appetizer and then dive into an entrée just as authentic as their staple.

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