In the busy hustle of downtown Toronto, my friends and I are always searching for a quiet place to relax and enjoy a meal. A wrong turn one day led us onto The Esplanade, a small street south of Front Street and east of Yonge St. There, we stumbled upon what is now one of our favourite restaurants: The Old Spaghetti Factory.
Stepping into The Old Spaghetti Factory is a bit like stepping onto a theatre set. With high ceilings, stained-glass windows, and nautical props hanging on the walls, the decorations alone are a treat. The Old Spaghetti Factory is very large, particularly for a restaurant located in the heart of downtown, and has plenty of seating which is perfect for a busy night when other restaurants have a waiting queue. In addition, the middle of the restaurant houses a large, enchanting glass ceiling which patrons can eat under, and the front of the restaurant has patio seating that is perfect for good weather.
Greeted by a friendly waitress and taken to our seats, I was delighted to discover that the booths were cozy and comfortable with high backings so that conversations from other tables wouldn’t waft over. A quick look at the menu (which includes a kids menu) makes it clear that all your pasta desires can be fulfilled in just one large page. From Spaghetti with Rich Meat Sauce, to Spicy Chorizo Sausage Penne to Veal a la Parmigiana, the possibilities are endless!
If spaghetti isn’t enough, the menu has a 10 oz. New York Steak to suit hungry eaters, or vegetarian options (such as Manicotti!) for meat-abstaining eaters.
The real treat, however, is in the “It’s All Included” portion of the menu, where one can order an entrée starting from $11.25 and enjoy soup or salad (your choice of dressing), a side order of bread (generally presented at the beginning of your meal for the table to share), Spumoni ice cream and coffee or tea all included within the entrée price.
It was from the “It’s All Included” section that I selected Spaghetti with Rich Meat Sauce: pasta decked in tomato sauce and minced ground beef. The meal began with a standard salad on a small plate, but they were generous with the dressing and it was a good appetizer to get the taste buds moving. The pasta entrée was delicious, served nice-and-hot, but the sauce doesn’t quite stick to your pasta, so plenty of stirring throughout the meal is required to make sure you don’t end up with all the sauce at the bottom of your bowl. Despite what appears to be a small portion, the entrée was surprisingly filling; however, if you are a hearty eater, you can “factory size” any spaghetti dish for $2 more and get a larger portion. To complete a delicious meal, I dipped my spoon into a small but sinfully good bowl of vanilla ice cream and enjoyed a cup of hot tea.
While the meal was wonderful, service was a little lacking; the waitress forgot to bring the extra bread we ordered, and the onus was on the customer to remind her that our meal included ice cream and coffee. While it may have just been a one-time occurrence, I encourage you to keep track of your meals to ensure you enjoy every aspect of the “It’s All Included” entrée.
Despite small issues with the service, The Old Spaghetti Factory is a great place to take your family or a first date. The ambiance is cozy and the menu provides comfort food to suit even the pickiest eaters. For those of you who enjoy trying new foods, consider trying Spaghetti with Spicy Meat Sauce for a little more zing, or step out of your comfort zone to experiment with The Manager’s Favourite (which involves mixing sauces), or Cannelloni (two tubes of pasta stuffed with spicy ground beef and spinach, topped with cheese and then oven baked). Even the dessert can be a little more scintillating; opt for ice cream that combines chocolate, vanilla and pistachio instead of the customary vanilla. While The Old Spaghetti Factory may not significant depart from your culturally-diverse taste buds, it is a delightful restaurant with delicious all-inclusive meals for a great price.
Lunch from $6.99; dinner from $10.49
Sunday – Thursday: 11:30am-10:00pm Friday & Saturday: 11:30am-11:00pm
Located at 54 The Esplanade, just east of Yonge St. and south of Front St.