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New look, new entrées for Val’s

Valerie James brings a personal touch to dining at Val’s Restaurant in Holden. (T&G Staff/TOM RETTIG)

Val’s Restaurant, 75 Reservoir St., Holden, has reopened after three weeks of renovation.

The changes are impressive.

Before we get to the interior, we want you to know that owner Valerie James of Worcester has tweaked the menu, adding lots of interesting new dishes. She got rid of pizza, but some specials, such as Mom’s Famous Spinach Pie, will never go away, she said. The spinach pie is a treasured family recipe.

James has spent 18 years in business in Holden. She owned the Pizza Palace, a take-out pizzeria in the Big Y Plaza for six years, before opening Val’s in 1996.

Last March, James was inducted into Les Amis d’Escoffier Society of Massachusetts. Members include chefs, hotel executives and restaurateurs.

James’ son, Christos James, works part-time for his mother. Her daughter, Joanna James of Miami, Fla., helped design the restaurant’s trendy new bar, which seats 18. Tables in the bar area accommodate customers waiting to be seated in the dining room. The comfy couch in front of the fireplace might keep us from moving on, especially on a wintry night.

On the menu: homemade soups, salads, Val’s original burgers, calzones, sandwiches, sauté and seafood specialties, kabob dinners, seafood and items from “The Butcher’s Shop.”

Prices are pretty reasonable. Classic dishes, such as fisherman’s platter (haddock, whole belly clams, scallops and onion rings), is $16.99. Specialty sandwiches start at $6.99; a 10-ounce New York strip sirloin steak is $13.99.

Val’s oven-baked pasta dishes, $6.99, are served with garlic sticks and family-style salad. Add $2.99 if you want meatballs, Italian sausage, boneless chicken or wild mushrooms with the meal.

Hours: lunch, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; dinner 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4 to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Val’s new function room seats about 65. Call (508) 829-0900 for more info about bookings.

A restaurant critic in a Telegram & Gazette review about Val’s noted how attentive James was to customers. She walks around Val’s making sure everything is just right, he wrote.

Things haven’t changed. Her new digs just give her more room to schmooze.