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.”
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.
As Contributing Editor at Mass Foodies, I always find it intriguing to look back at the posts that gained the most traction with our readers over the course of the year. I took the liberty of breaking down the numbers to find out which stories engaged Mass Foodies’ readers above all others during 2018. One thing was clear; you like to read about openings, you love to read about closings, and you know how to pay proper tribute when it is due.
I was surprised to find that the 2018 openings of simjang and North Main Provisions did not make bigger media imprints on our site. In my professional opinion, these two establishments will have long lasting implications for Worcester’s food landscape. The closing of decade-long downtown staple The Citizen Wine Bar yielded fewer clicks than I predicted, eclipsed by the Thanksgiving holiday. Perhaps, this was thoughtful timing on behalf of Niche Hospitality President and CEO Michael Covino.
Mass Foodies subsists on the underlying principle that the foundation for strong restaurants is an adaptive and collaborative culinary community. It is comforting to find that thousands upon thousands of readers continue to share our vision year in and year out. Happy New Years from the Mass Foodies team.
Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace faced the saddening blow of Ed Hyder’s passing on February 5th. This Pleasant Street landmark continues to thrive as a true family business, invigorated by the dedication of the Hyder children. Ed Hyder is remembered in our neighborhoods, kitchens, and hearts.
On Sunday, October 28th, Kummerspeck folded after 15 months in business on Water Street. Chef-owners Matt Mahoney and Rachel Coit sat down with Mass Foodies for an unfiltered look at what lead to the closure.
We started the year with seven new restaurants on the horizon including Maddi’s Cookery & Taphouse, 110 Grill, Protein House, STIX Noodle Bar, Revolution Pie + Pint, Craft Table and Bar, and Brew Beer Garden. (You can add Fuel America to that list as well.) We should note that although Protein House, Revolution Pie + Pint, and Craft Table and Bar have installed new and prominent signage downtown, they have yet to open their doors. And, what’s going on with Josephine’s anyways?
Developer Allen Fletcher turned heads when he broke ground on May 7th for his Kelley Square Market, which will house 30-40 vendors along with a sit down eatery. There was a lot of chatter about construction’s impact on parking, lest we remind you that Fletcher’s lot had been made available out by his sheer good will in the past. Did we ever bother to send him a thank you card?
Worcester got a taste for authentic Belgian Liege waffles with the growing popularity of Blue Shades on Park Ave, an establishment that zeroes in on the mastery of a single specialty cuisine. This burst of interest proved that our readers are interested in supporting specialty and niche shops with a food truck model. (I’ve said on many occasions that I believe some of the best food in the city comes out of the MamaRoux food trailer parked behind The Dive Bar.)
Mass Foodies went live from 110 Grill prior to their May 22nd opening in a space adjacent to the AC Hotel. Viewers got a preview of the traditional interior built to accommodate large groups along with the charming outdoor fire pits. In recent months, the restaurant has served as a frequent filming location for Liam Neeson’s latest flick, “Honest Thief.”
Red Lantern completed its last dinner service on December 9th at 235 Shrewsbury Street. One block away, neighboring restaurant, British Beer Company at 225 Shrewsbury Street also closed up shop to make room for the future home of Mexicali Mexican Grill. A week later, 7 Nana at 60 Shrewsbury Street also closed permanently.
Mass Foodies attended the grand opening of Maddi’s Cookery and Taphouse on June 18th. Chef Christopher O’Harra, formerly of Flying Rhino, brings two decades of experience in Worcester’s dining scene to the newest Water Street watering hole. Owner Adam Hicks also runs Depot Street Tavern in nearby Milford.
In April, Mass Foodies got a first look at Buck’s Whiskey and Burger Bar in the Canal District, which is conveniently located within spitting distance of Polar Park, the future home of the Worcester Red Sox.
Sherri Sadowski and Alec Lopez announced in February that they have a new project on the horizon. Their downtown craft beer bar and restaurant, Armsby Abbey, celebrated its tenth anniversary over the summer. Their second restaurant, Conico, will be located in Hudson with a focus on traditional Mexican cuisine. Sadowski and Lopez demand a level of excellence that takes precision and patience, so don’t expect a rushed opening any time soon.
The Hangover Pub and Broth, both of The Hangover Corporation, reopened over the summer after temporary closure on account of previous owner, Christopher Slavinskas’ involvement in concealment of drug money for restaurateur Kevin A. Perry Jr. Broth and The Hangover have since reopened under a newly formed corporation without Slavinskas.
More than 2,000 people came out for the first Food Truck Throwdown in Green Hill Park in May, organized by The Dogfather, Mark Gallant. Beyond simply satisfying our appetites, food trucks have major spatial benefits which impact our abilities to activate blank territories throughout the city. We predict that the pop-up mentality will continue to grow based on popular entities like Wooden Noodles.