Growing up near Worcester, I always felt spoiled that great Italian food was just around the corner where quality Italian fare quite literally lined Shrewsbury Street. Since I have moved to the MetroWest area, I find myself longing for the integrity of those Italian restaurants I could frequent in my youth, effectively avoiding long trips to the North End in Boston. Finally, my request has been answered. Volturno of Shrewsbury Street in Worcester has opened a second location in Framingham.
The high water mark of any restaurant is the ability to meet expectations of all patrons, while at the same time enhancing their particular experience. By this, I mean, that if you are anticipating a nice date night, you get it. Or, if you are looking for a family night out, that can happen as well in the very same location. Volturno has created an environment that allows this to take place by design. The bar occupies a large portion of the rear of the restaurant, but not in a manner that distracts from the dining room’s vibe. Although the bar is not a separate space, it provides a vastly different experience. The same holds true in other areas of the restaurant.
Possibly the most important element of your experience is the manner in which your senses are engaged. First, as you walk toward the restaurant from the parking lot, it is impossible to ignore the smell of burning wood from the wood-fired stove. Upon entry, the smell of fresh pizza and pasta sauce is overwhelming and a rush of activity can be sensed from the sound of servers taking orders, bartenders vigorously shaking drinks at the bar, and cutlery making contact with porcelain plates. Volturno is truly a cacophony of culinary sights and sounds.
Although a quality dining experience requires multiple sensory inputs, the most important aspect is the character of the food. Now, in all fairness, when I think about Italian food, I think of my grandmother’s meatballs and sauce. Nothing fancy. The food at Volturno was well prepared. That said, there were elements of the meal that proved more traditionally executed, such as the arancini appetizer, and the house-made tagliatelle with grass-fed beef, veal, and buffalo. Our order also included the pistachio pizza, with Berkshire sausage and pistachio pesto. The crust was chewy and kissed by smoke from the wood-fired oven, but assembled a combination of ingredients I wasn’t expecting. An unconventional bruschetta was served with tomato, capers, shallots, green olives, mozzarella and marinated pepper. This dish was not something I would order again, but not because it wasn’t well prepared, rather, the saltiness of the capers and olives proved a bit off-putting to my specific palate.
Overall, Volturno lived up to its reputation, and I hope it marks the beginning of a growing list of new quality restaurants in the Metrowest area. Located right off of Rt. 9, on Edgell Road in Framingham. Volturno seems to have primed itself for success with a combination of old and new world cooking style, and I look forward to many future visits.