Valentino’s has ambitious plans for heart of Shrewsbury Street

By taking the best of what Restaurant Row has to offer — including an iconic location — and adding the charm of an Italian coffee bar, a new, family-owned, cafe-style “grab-and-go” restaurant is aiming to attract a distinct Shrewsbury Street demographic:


Valentino’s Press and Pour, which plans to open in May at 154 Shrewsbury St. (the former long-time home of dessert and coffee bar Cafe Dolce), will feature a full bar and cafe, lottery, tobacco products, and a variety of to-go items including coffee, ready-made sandwiches and desserts.

“This street is still growing and there’s nothing that caters to the masses,” said Joe Stake, a partner who will manage the restaurant and tend bar. “You have to go to different places if you want different things. The street is very segmented.

“So we’re trying to offer all of it under one roof.”

Courtesy Valentino's

Valentino’s plans an upscale and upbeat vibe … with scratch tickets and Bloody Mary’s too.

Stake’s cousin, Luke DeWolfe, bought the building in 2015. He renovated the attached three-decker and originally planned only to be a landlord for the cafe space. Now he’s staring down a mid-May soft opening of his own restaurant, with a full-scale grand opening planned for some time in June.

Worcester Sun, April 19: Mariano on Petty’s PCBs response, Valentino’s vies for heart of Shrewsbury Street + more

It’s a jam-packed Wednesday, April 19, Worcester Sun. Get in there!

Jane Week in Worcester events, presented by Jane Jacobs in the Woo

Worcester Sun is a proud partner of Jane Week in Worcester. Here are all the Jane Week in Worcester events:

John Dervishian, Worcester’s ‘Barstool Poet’ pours out his soul

Under the dim lights of a Shrewsbury Street bar John Dervishian, Worcester’s barroom poet, huddles over a draft beer penning words to cocktail napkins, lottery slips and crumpled receipt paper.

Sitting by himself on a Wednesday night, Dervishian tries to explain to a curious bartender why he has pen in hand and an escalating scrum of notes and napkins strewn in front of him.

“It gets lonely in my head sometimes, but it’s also crowded,” Dervishian says.

“When it’s in there, and I write it down on something, it’s almost like a weight being lifted off of me. It’s done. I can move on,” he said. “It’s only going to bother me if I don’t get it out. It’s a huge release to get it out of my mind.”

Dervishian, 45, is known by a variety of nicknames across Worcester’s bars and coffee shops, including “The Bearded Poet,” “The Angry Poet” and “The Barstool Poet.”

Most nights, Dervishian can be found on a barstool amid the Shrewsbury Street bustle where he’s no stranger to striking up conversations with other bar patrons and whoever the bartender is on duty.

When Worcester’s best chefs compete, everybody wins

Worcester’s “Foodie Renaissance” is well-documented. New restaurants of all shapes and sizes continue to elbow their way into the mainstream, all while collecting accolades and ratcheting up that friendly neighborhood competition along Shrewsbury Street, in the Canal District, across the city and beyond.

That one-upmanship will be at its zenith Sunday, Jan. 29, when Worcester’s Best Chef Competition, featuring top cooks from many of the city’s and region’s most popular eateries, celebrates its 10th anniversary by inviting all previous winners back to Mechanics Hall for an “Iron Chef”-style battle royale.

“I love participating in this event,” says Christopher O’Harra, executive chef of Flying Rhino Café & Watering Hole on Shrewsbury Street.

O’Harra, winner of the People’s Choice award in 2015, is among 14 returning competitors who have either won the event’s “Iron Chef” title or been named a people’s or judges’ choice winner. One notable name will be absent from the impressive roster.

Local Business Spotlight: Shrewsbury Street orders up The Usual

With a little help from Niche Hospitality, a husband-and-wife duo plan to put down roots in the heart of Restaurant Row with what they consider a fresh concept largely missing from Worcester’s already eclectic and wide-ranging food scene. What could be missing from the city’s seemingly endless bounty of culinary choices, and how will The Usual fill that void? Only one way to find out.

Local Business Spotlight: Shrewsbury Street orders up The Usual

The newest addition to Shrewsbury Street’s Restaurant Row plans to arrive this fall with a distinct spin on the sandwich.


The Usual expects to become the new not-so-usual eatery along the famous foodie thoroughfare with a tentative November opening at 166 Shrewsbury St., where Niche Hospitality Group has incubated Mezcal Tequila Cantina, now downtown, and The Fix Burger Bar, now on Grove Street.

Worcester Weekly: Columbus Day Parade + 5 more mid-October things to do

Sunday, Oct. 9 — 22nd Worcester Columbus Day Parade, noon, Aitchison and Shrewsbury streets to Washington Square  First things first: The most Italian name in the history of Italian names — besides maybe Cristoforo Colombo — Msgr. Rocco Piccolomini, stands out on the roster of prominent city Sunday gravy aficionados who’ve been chosen as honorary grand marshals through the years. Piccolomini, a revered clergyman and educator who died last fall, is joined by luminaries such as John Conte, Ralph Raymond, Karyn Polito and Ray Mariano.

It's his day (Christopher Columbus) ... and Worcester has big plans.

Wikimedia Commons

It’s his day (Christopher Columbus) … and Worcester has big plans.

And this year, it’s school safety chief Rob Pezzella’s turn to lead the procession from one end of Shrewsbury Street to the other, making him the third Pezzella (after A. Thomas and Stephen, doctors both) to be so honored. Be prepared: There will be a quiz somewhere between East Park and VIA.

For more information

Wednesday, Oct. 12 — The Monuments Men of WWII: The Worcester Connection, 4 p.m., Rare Book Room, Goddard Library, Clark University, 950 Main St.  Not everything begins and ends with George Clooney, as it turns out. Maybe the mega-star’s 2014 film, “The Monuments Men,” brought back into mainstream consciousness the heroics of this unlikely military unit, but you wouldn’t be wrong to trace a major hunk of its origin story back to the City of Seven Hills. When priceless artifacts and other items of cultural significance began being pilfered, a pair of Worcester-based art experts found themselves enlisted among the bunch that would retrieve tens of thousands of treasures from across Europe.

Worcester Sun, Oct. 9-15: In this issue

Worcestory Lesson, with an eye on the city’s current brewing renaissance, brings us back to the first beer boom. PCBs in schools must be a top priority — our editorial. Hitch on Weld. Sinacola on Healey. Another chapter in Giselle Rivera-Flores’ inspiring journey. And much more in your Oct. 9-15 Worcester Sun.

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Editorial: Time for a tuneup on Worcester parking

In a lot of cities, parking is exciting — if you call sweating and swearing while driving exciting. When, where and whether you’ll find it, and how much it’ll dent your wallet, are worries as soon as you enter city limits.

In Worcester, we’re luckier. Parking’s pretty boring. With about 10,000 parking spaces — nearly half of them municipally owned — we usually have little difficulty dropping off our vehicles for a few minutes or hours.

That’s a key advantage pointed out in a recent report from the Worcester Regional Research Bureau.

The report, “Parking in Worcester: Left by the Curb,” describes weaknesses in other areas — revenue, upkeep and a bureaucracy that’s basically Kelley Square on paper — and offers general recommendations we believe the city ought to heed.

In terms of parking availability, though, and “despite the grumbling,” the report tells us we’ve got it good.

Not to mention there’s a gradually growing list of things to see and do downtown that makes us want to come, car and all, if we decide against one of the public-transportation choices.

But now for the bad news from the study. For one: Modest price increases are likely in store at the four municipal parking garages.