May 14, 2007
The New Old Spaghetti Factory

Prompted by intensified competition, as well as a heightened nutritional consciousness, one of the older dogs on Sacramento's midtown dining grid is learning new tricks.

Friday night, The Old Spaghetti Factory at 19th and J began to give diners the option of ordering the restaurant's signature dish, spaghetti with browned butter and mizithra cheese, with gluten-free corn corkscrew pasta rather than the traditional strands of semolina. This addition was prompted by customer requests for a pasta that could be ordered by celiacs and others intolerant to gluten.

Our server candidly warned us that the gluten-free pasta was being criticized by some customers as "mushy," but we went ahead and ordered platters of both the original and the new. The kitchen must have quickly gotten a handle on how to better cook the gluten-free corkscrews, for the pasta wasn't mushy at all. It was lighter and sweeter than the spaghetti, but went just as well with the spirited and rustic toss of browned butter and mizithra. Either way, the dish remains a bargain, with each $9.25 order including a loaf of hot bread with butter, a choice of minestrone or salad, and a choice of spumoni or ice cream.

If you haven't been to The Old Spaghetti Factory for awhile be prepared for some other menu changes, including an extensive new selection of appetizers as well as a few new entrees, including Italian meatloaf and eggplant parmigiana.

Even the placemats today are a kick, offering a wine trivia quiz and smart suggestions on pairing wine and dishes. The restaurant sure needs a fresh replacement for the weedy Chianti Classico it is pouring by the glass, however.

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