I’ve always liked the Old Spaghetti Factory - it was great the first time I went to one in Toronto as I was sick of fancier restaurants and (gasp!) Chinese food. It was a lifesaver for group events in Edmonton – having to feed 30+ college kids and paying by business cheque made it one of my favourites when planning conferences. We also enjoyed the “Old Spag Fac” in West Edmonton Mall, especially after a long day at the wave pool!
Now, back to being in Vancouver, we’ve enjoyed the Gastown location 2 or 3 times now – once with our friends who were visiting from Newfoundland during the Olympics (we lucked out on seats that time!). With my parents visiting, they thought it would be fun to go back to Gastown and have a much simpler meal than many we’d been having during their trip. I was all for it!
The inside of this restaurant is huge – it keeps going, all the way to the back of the building. The capacity of this place must be at least 400!
Because it was so nice, we decided to eat outside on their patio. We were seated by the window, at a nice big cafe table, shaded from the sun by an awning and some nearby patio umbrellas. Since it was so summery out, I decided to order a seasonal cocktail:
This was my choice: Melon Sangria – though I don’t know I’d call it sangria. It was fruity, sweet and very refreshing. I liked it a lot.
Now, the beauty of Old Spaghetti Factory is that they’ve mastered the “all included” menu. You get hot, sourdough bread with great whipped garlic butter (there’s also the plain stuff, but I don’t know anyone who eats that one), your choice of soup or salad with any main, and coffee or tea plus ice cream. With most pastas being under $12, you can see why this was such a hit with my college & university friends!
Chris ordered the clam chowder, which was a $2.25 upgrade, it’s a creamy potato style (New England style) clam chowder – they used to offer (at least in Edmonton) the Manhattan-style tomato based version. Chris enjoyed his very much. My dad had the Minestrone soup, which is a standard choice on the menu – he also enjoyed it. My mom & I both had the garden salad which is a decent serving of iceberg lettuce, tomato, celery (which I pick out), red cabbage, and carrots. It’s always been fresh and cold.
For his main, Dad ordered the Pot-Pourri Spaghetti which offered three sauces on spaghetti noodles. The meat sauce is nice and thick, the clam sauce is cream-based and has a good amount of clam pieces, the mushroom sauce is predominantly a tomato sauce with full pieces of button mushrooms in it. Dad was very happy with his choices (all three of them!)
My mom chose a single sauced item – the Spaghetti with Spicy Meat Sauce. It was, similar to the other meat sauce, rich and very meaty. The spiciness comes from red chili flakes, so it’s a good, smokey hot.
I chose to maximize my sauce options too – with The Manager’s Favourite, I got to pick two sauces from their classic options. Like my dad I ordered the clam sauce, which was a stretch for me – I always order the Spaghetti with Browned Butter and Mizithra Cheese, a la Homer – which is what’s on the left-side of the dish. Salty, buttery, and full of flavour, this is my absolute favourite thing. It’s simple and delicious.
Chris chose the Spaghetti with Meatballs. You get three very large meatballs that are very tender and well seasoned. A good amount of tomato sauce helps too. At $11.45, this was the most expensive of the pastas – so yeah, it’s an excellent deal!
Now, in addition to this, we ate at least 2 loaves of the sourdough bread, then had the waiter (who was super nice, very attentive, and friendly throughout despite being crazy buys) bring us coffees and ice cream. You get a choice of chocolate (boring!) or spumoni – which is a mix of vanilla, chocolate, and delicious pistachio ice cream. SO GOOD.
So, while it’s not a fancy restaurant, and sure, the dishes are authentically Italian, Old Spaghetti Factory reliably offers you a very good, solid meal for your dollar – and, continues to hold a special place in my heart.