Shrimp Scallop and Basil from Rosalina’s Kitchen on Hamilton Street in Worcester, MATucked into the first floor one of Worcester’s infamous multi-family homes at the top of Hamilton Street, everything about Rosalina’s Kitchen screams “Italian home cooking.” From the tight seating and low ceiling, to the “do it yourself” décor, for first impression one gets the feeling this dining experience will either be amazing filled with decades of old family recipes or a total flop. Walking through the front door, I immediately felt reassured; based on the full house of guests on a Wednesday evening that they were doing something right. After all, Worcester is not short of Italian dining options and Wednesdays can easily be hit or miss for a restaurant.

Our party of 15 was seated at the perimeter of the dining room that sits approximately 50 people with tables spaced just far enough away from one another to create a warm, vibrant ambiance. Our servers were very attentive. It is a BYOB establishment allowing the wait staff to focus on the food, which they did most effectively.

The menu is loaded with famous Italian staples as well as very unique dishes from the creative mind of owner/chef Rose-Ellen Padavano. I opted for the calamari to start things off. The perfect texture of the batter and other seasonings were not quite enough to pull it out of that bland category due to its inconsistency of salt (a sentiment that those foodies that shared my plate agreed on); I do believe this could have been easily avoided by just a few more tosses in the bowl before the calamari was plated. I would give this dish another try as the texture of the batter and squid were perfect. For my entrée I chose the Shrimp Scallop and Basil. Served in a white wine lemon sauce with fresh basil and homemade penne, this dish was simply perfect. Nothing complex, the flavors were nicely blended, the pasta precisely cooked al dente and the portion size was more than I could finish.

Overall, the food was great, service was fantastic (even for a table of 15) and the warm, friendly neighborhood ambiance that you cannot manufacture—it either shows up, or it doesn’t—all make Rosalina’s Kitchen a stand-out and must-try for your next Italian night out.