The Old Spaghetti Factory

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by btwood2 on June 24, 2006

The Old Spaghetti Factory has been near and dear to our hearts since the 1980s. We often dined in their original Fresno, California restaurant, situated in a vintage 1925 raisin packing plant. The place had plenty of atmosphere, so popular with locals that we usually had to wait to be seated. We’d order a liter of house burgundy in the funky old bar, then move into the cavernous dining room when called. Seating ranged from decadently comfortable overstuffed chairs, to modified short beds with ornate headboards, to a full-sized railroad dining car. They’ve since moved "uptown" to newer but less interesting digs.

The very first Old Spaghetti Factory opened in Portland, Oregon, according to OSF lore, on a cold and rainy night in January 1969. Guss and Sally Dussin chose an old building in the low-rent warehouse district for their new Italian restaurant. Sally decorated with garage sale treasures, much of the furniture and wall art antiques. The restaurant made enough profit that year to open two more OSF’s in 1970.

Also in 1970, the first Canadian Old Spaghetti Factory was opened by Vancouver relatives of the American Dussins. Though to my eyes they’re virtually the same in terms of décor, menu, and bang-for-your-buck prices, there’s no official connection between the two chains.

Old Spaghetti Factory U.S. version is found in 14 states, heaviest presence in California with 15 locations. Old Spaghetti Factory Canadian version is found in four provinces, with five of its eleven restaurants in British Columbia.

Victoria’s Old Spaghetti Factory has a most auspicious location on one end of historic Crystal Garden. We decided to give it a go towards the end of our stay, but Bob and I got our wires crossed. I thought we were to meet there at the restaurant; he understood we’d meet at the car. So I was well into our liter of burgundy, enjoying people-watching from a patio table, when a somewhat disgruntled Bob arrived. But a glass of Sawmill Creek red soon had him mellowed out.

The long paper menu is similar to the U.S. version, with drawings of sale items (furniture, soap, clothing, shoes) from turn-of-the-century catalogs lining the sides. Curious and classy antiques line the floors and walls indoors. What makes OSF such a winner for us, though, is their all-inclusive entrée policy: included in the price is choice of minestrone soup or tossed green salad and bottomless sourdough bread basket, and spumoni ice-cream and choice of coffee or tea.

Bob ordered his favorite: spaghetti, meatballs and chorizo sausage with extra meat sauce. I ordered the "manager’s favourite", which allows you to choose two of the six specialty sauces with your spaghetti. Love those butter clams in béchamel, and mushrooms in marinara. Though the Mizithra cheese and browned butter sauce is terribly tempting as well. For the truly wishy-washy, a potpourri of spaghetti with three sauces can be ordered. Besides spaghetti dinners, a respectable variety of Italian-North American favorites graces the menu.

Old Spaghetti Factory
703 Douglas Street
Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 2B4
(250) 381-8444

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