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Publisher’s Letter: “Check Please! Goodbye, Mass Foodies… Hello, Mass Food & Wine”

Mass Foodies and the Worcester Wine Festival will be merging into Mass Food & Wine in an effort to focus on coordinating, promoting, and executing world class food and wine events in Massachusetts with exclusive dinners and grand tastings effective January 2020.

When I started Mass Foodies in 2007 (then called, the goal was to have one website that aggregated—and provided a free digital footprint for—the restaurants in Worcester. What began as a passion project quickly turned into a business after a year when I was joined by a business partner, talented contributors, photographers, and many friends who shared an affinity for the region’s culinary palates. Like all businesses, Mass Foodies has seen years of flourishing as well as weathering through the quieter news cycles. Today, the region continues to be infatuated with Worcester’s evolving food scene and, in stride, Mass Foodies has helped lead with events and content that offered insights for restaurant guests, advice and promotions for restaurant owners, and, above all, unique experiences for everyone. The products Mass Foodies curated were always aligned with its mission: to support and promote the independently owned businesses.

A few short years ago, I partnered with a few individuals to create the region’s first wine festival. The Worcester Wine Festival proved to be a tremendous success in every way we measured it. Even more so, it was fun.

In an effort to be more efficient in life and business, my partners from both Mass Foodies and Worcester Wine Festival made a strategic decision to merge both companies—bringing together the best of both, aligned with a leadership team, which includes Ed Russo and Joseph Giacobbe, that will focus on continuing the growth of the existing reputations of both organizations through the company, Mass Food & Wine.

Effective January 2020, you’ll notice that the branding will be switched and events that were formerly managed by Mass Foodies and the Worcester Wine Festival will be managed by Mass Food & Wine. Even more exciting, with a larger bandwidth, we’ll be introducing several other small events and new original content, all curated around food and wine—including, but not limited to, a food event focused on Worcester’s history; Worcester Wine Walks to bridge the gap of Worcester’s neighborhoods; and wine dinners that will promote the region’s most respected chefs and celebrate some of the world’s greatest wines.

Although Mass Foodies will cease to exist, I can promise that Mass Food & Wine will be better positioned to execute world class food and wine events, right here in the heart of New England.

Stay hungry,

Luke M. Vaillancourt

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Lock 50’s Ed Russo to Bring Classic Italian Eatery to Familiar Canal District Location

A few short years ago, Ed Russo wasn’t in the restaurant business. But he had a vision to open a restaurant in the burgeoning Canal District of Worcester and today, that vision is the restaurant Worcester has come to know as the award-winning Lock 50.

Lock 50 opened in May of 2016 and immediately made its mark. Executive Chef Tim Russo (owner Ed Russo’s nephew) pushes the limits of creativity by featuring contemporary American dishes that rely on local, fresh ingredients. The seasonal menu combines shareable plates along with larger entrees. There is a large outdoor patio that is extremely popular in the warmer weather and this Winter, Russo was again making news by introducing outdoor Igloo Dining to Worcester. Eight colorful and heated igloos allow for patio dining throughout the Fall & Winter months. The igloos have proven to be an extremely popular dining destination, as well as causing a social media stir when they debuted.

Now we learn, Russo has plans for a second restaurant, aptly named Russo, to take the space vacated by the Canal Restaurant & Bar at 65 Water Street.

“The success of Lock 50 speaks for itself. We are grateful for all the support we’ve received and honored to be part of the rebirth of the Canal District,” said Russo. “Now it’s time to bring authentic Italian American food to the hottest neighborhood in Worcester,” he added.


Expanding in the Canal District

Opening a second restaurant wasn’t necessarily on the radar when Russo visited the vacant space at 65 Water Street for the first time. But when he walked through, he knew immediately what he wanted to do. “The space has the feel of a classic North End Italian restaurant with exposed brick, rich wood accents and large windows,” said Russo. And the distinctive “cave room”  he says will be transformed into something very special. “We’ll make it a focal point of the new restaurant, serving as both a dining room and wine cellar allowing customers a truly unique dining experience.”


Ed Russo reviews plans for new restaurant to occupy space on Water Street in the Canal District

New Menu, Classic Dishes

Like Lock 50, the seasonal menu at Russo will include fresh, local ingredients. All the pasta will be handmade and only the highest quality meats, cheeses and seafood will be served. Expect to see approachable, familiar offerings such as Gnocchi, Veal Marsala and Pasta Bolognese. Russo will also pay homage to some of his classic Italian American family recipes, passed down from generations, including signature dishes such as a traditional Sunday Gravy and Minestra Fagiolo Verde (pork & green been stew).

Another surprise you’ll find when the new restaurant opens…antique furnishings from the recently closed Durgin-Park. Russo purchased century-old table bases, bar decor, lighting fixtures and more when Boston’s landmark restaurant closed last month. “The purchases from Durgin-Park will fit perfectly into the space and compliment the natural atmosphere,” Russo commented.

The new restaurant will feature two dining rooms and a full bar area.

Breathing life into the vacant space will take vision, but Russo says he is up to the task. “With Lock 50 really hitting its stride, people tell me to sit back and relax. But I believe in this new project, I believe in this neighborhood and I believe in this City,” he said. And we have no reason to doubt him.

Renovations at Russo have already begun. Stay tuned to MassFoodies for more information about this new Italian American restaurant and a possible Spring opening.