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And the winners are ... Best of 2010.

Editor's note: This year, the Item's "Best Of" competition drew the most entries ever ... by far. We're excited so many people enter nominations and take this contest so seriously. We take it seriously, too. Each year since the Item started its "Best Of" competition, there has been some ballot-stuffing. For the most part, this is good-natured and builds competition between our local businesses. Entries are always "legal" ballots with legitimate names and addresses.

However, this year, we found some stuffing to be downright silly. Nominations were made in categories that had no relation to the business or person. For example, a restaurant was nominated for best furniture store.

In those categories, we made editorial judgments and disqualified entries.

And the winners are:

Best Pizza

1. Primo's Pizza, Clinton; 2. Brother's Pizza, Clinton; honorable mention: Tailgaters Grill and P&S Pizza, both in Clinton.

Best Fast Food

1. McDonald's, Clinton; 2. KFC, Clinton; honorable mention, Taco Bell, Clinton.

Most Family Friendly

1. Michael's Bridge Diner, Lancaster; honorable mention, Clinton Gourmet, Tailgater's Grill and Old Timer Restaurant, all in Clinton.

Best Date Night Restaurant

1. Ristorante Via Alto 27, Clinton.

Best Italian Restaurant

1. Ristorante Via Alto 27, Clinton; 2. Olive Garden, various locations; honorable mention, Il Camino, Leominster.

Best Asian Restaurant

1. Clinton Gourmet, Clinton; 2. Fung Wong, Clinton; 3. Cheoy Lee's, West Boylston.

Best Value Restaurant

1. Clinton Gourmet; 2. Michael's Bridge Diner, Lancaster; 3. Tailgaters Grill, Clinton.

Best Place for a Drink

1. Tailgater's Grill, Clinton; honorable mention, Clinton Gourmet and Old Timer Restaurant, both in Clinton.

Best Place for Ice Cream

1. Rota Springs, Sterling; 2. Dairy Queen, Clinton; 3. Sterling Ice Cream Bar, Sterling.

Best Place for Breakfast

1. Michael's Bridge Diner, Lancaster; 2. High Street Cafe, Clinton; 3. Sandee's Restaurant, Lancaster;

Best Place for a Burger

1. Michael's Bridge Diner, Lancaster; 2. Tailgaters Grill, Clinton; 3. Old Timer Restaurant, Clinton.

Best Place for Coffee

1. Dunkin' Donuts, Clinton and various locations; 2. Michael's Bridge Diner, Lancaster; 3. McDonald's, Clinton.

Best Place for Dessert

1. Ristorante Via Alto 27, Clinton; honorable mention, Michael's Bridge Diner, Lancaster, and Dairy Queen, Clinton.

Best Place to See a Movie

1. The Historic Strand Theatre, Clinton; 2. Regal Theatre at Solomon Pond Mall; 3. West Boylston Cinemas.

Best Place to Hear Live Music

1. Breakaway Billiards, Clinton; 2. Palladium, Worcester; honorable mention, The Spillway, Clinton.

Best Place to Play Pool

1. Breakaway Billiards, Clinton; honorable mention, Jillians, Worcester, and AMF Bowling Alley (Town and Country Lanes), Shrewsbury.

Best Place For Carpet/Flooring

1. Depot Flooring, Clinton; honorable mention, Discount House of Wallpaper, Clinton, and Gray's Carpet Center, Northboro.

Best Florist

1. Country Garden, Clinton; 2. Varise Brothers, Clinton.

Best Hair Salon

1. Laura's Place, Clinton; 2. Regina's Hair Salon, Clinton; honorable mention, Salon on Main, Clinton.

Best Farmstand

1. Deershorn Farm, Lancaster; honorable mention, Big Bear's Den, Lancaster, and Bolton Orchards.

Best Gym

1. Ciccone's Family Fitness, Clinton; 2. Anytime Fitness, Clinton; honorable mention, Comfort Inn.

Best Inn or Bed and Breakfast

1. Chocksett Inn, Sterling; 2. Clinton Motor Inn; honorable mention, Comfort Inn, Hudson.

Best Politician

1. Rep. Harold Naughton Jr. (D-Clinton); 2. U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.); honorable mention, Clinton Selectman Bill Connolly.

Best Teacher

1. Francine Gleason, Tahanto Regional High School; honorable mention, Lyndsey McMullen, Clinton Middle School, Mark Allard, Clinton High School, and Clinton music teacher Carol O'Malley, Clinton Elementary School.

Best Local Hero

1. Harold Brown Jr.; 2. Local firefighters.

Best Garage

1. Main Street BP, Clinton; 2. Mr. G's, Clinton; 3. O'Malley's Service Station, Clinton.

Best Jewelry Store

1. Duvarney Jewelers, Clinton; 2. Sunrise Boutique, Clinton; honorable mention, Pucci's Jewelers, West Boylston.

Best Furniture Store

1. Rotman's Furniture, Worcester; 2. Jordan's Furniture, various locations; honorable mention, Bob's Discount Furniture, Worcester.

Best Store to Buy Food

1. Hannaford Supermarket, Clinton; 2. Shaw's Supermarket, Clinton; 3. Market Basket, Leominster.

Best Gift Store

1. Paper Store, formerly in Clinton, now closed; 2. Sunrise Boutique, Clinton; honorable mention, Tinker's Cart, Clinton.

Best Sports Store

1. Corner Sports and Embroidery, Clinton; honorable mention, Dick's Sporting Goods and Sports Authority, various locations.

Best Golf Course

1. Twin Springs, Bolton; 2. The International, Bolton; honorable mention, Cyprian Keyes, Boylston.

Best Antique or Thrift Store

1. Consignment Gallery at 56, Clinton; 2. Hidden Treasures (WHEAT thrift store), Clinton; honorable mention, Sunrise Boutique, Clinton.

Best Optical Shop

1. D'Ambrosio Eye Care, Lancaster; 2. Clinton Eye Center.

Best Real Estate Agent

1. Hogan Real Estate, Clinton; 2. Realty Vision, Clinton; honorable mention, James Holyoak.

Best Accountant

1. Farragher & Henebry, Clinton; 2. James Tomolo, Clinton; honorable mention, Ed Mack, Clinton.

Favorite Community Event

1. Olde Home Days, Clinton; 2. Taste of Wachusett, Princeton; honorable mention, St. Patrick's Day.

Hidden Jewel

Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton.

ART: PHOTOS

CUTLINE: (1) Ristorante Via Alto 27 owner/chef Christiana Ernst (right) cooks with Executive Chef Mathias Faria. Via Alto, in Clinton, won three awards in the Best of balloting: Italian, Date Night and Dessert. (2) A smiling straw figure greets diners at Michael's Bridge Diner, in Lancaster. Michael's won three awards in the Best of balloting: Breakfast, Burger and Family Friendly. (3) The Historic Strand Theatre, in Clinton, continued its winning ways, winning for Best Place to See a Movie. (4) The late Harold Brown Jr., originally from Bolton, won for Local Hero. Brown was killed in Afghanistan on Dec. 30. (5) Scott and Sarah Parker show off plans for their new store. Their carpet store, Depot Floor Covering, won for Best Place to Buy Carpet/Flooring. (6) Rep. Harold Naughton Jr. (D-Clinton) once again won the voting for Best Local or State Politician. (7) Hogan Real Estate, now located on the corner of High and Church streets, in Clinton, won for Best Real Estate Agent. (8) The Museum of Russian Icons, in Clinton, may attract visitors from around the world, but readers chose it the Best Hidden Jewel.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 9, 2010
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