Willamette Noodle Company

~update 7/9/12 Willamette Noodle Co is now closed
*Update: WNC is now at 380 High Street

Before ever eating at Willamette Noodle Company, I remember driving by the small Italian restaurant on Broadway St. NE and thinking that it looked like a great place to eat. It has a great name, logo and large windows at almost every table in the restaurant. Well my instinct was right, it's one of the best restaurants in Salem. For quality of food and price, it may be the best. If you haven't eaten here yet, put this place at the top of your list. Everything that I've tried on their menu has been fantastic and nothing more than $14 including bread and soup or salad. Ala carte you can order a plate of Spaghetti alla Marinara for $6. On a spring evening I ordered Fettuccine Primavera as a meal for $11. A large portion of thick fettuccine was tossed in a white wine and lemon cream sauce. The medley of vegetables included large bites of carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, green beans and peas. My dinner was marvelous, fresh and healthy. I thought that I ordered the best thing on the menu until I looked over at my wife's dinner, Butternut Squash Ravioli. Cooked in a Gorgonzola sauce, my wife said "it's incredible." I'll take her word for it because she has Butternut Squash Ravioli is one of her favorite Italian dinners and she's ordered it at many restaurants before. In fact, she says this one was the best she's ever eaten. This ravioli dish was on the "specials" menu that evening so you may have to call ahead and find out when they will be serving it again.

This is exactly the kind of restaurant that Salem could use more of. It's friendly and comfortable with just a couple of servers to handle the entire seven table dining room and take out. The food as I've said has always been outstanding and reasonably priced. It's also kid friendly, the table cloths are made of paper, perfect for scribbling while you wait for your food. They have a children's menu with an assortment of fun title's like Daddy's Best Spaghetti Ever, Plain Jane and Half Alf.

1405 Broadway Ave. NE
Salem, OR
(503) 399-9992 - phone


Reviewed 6/17/07
When the server brought plates of steaming pasta to our table, I knew the chef had just finished tossing these dishes over a hot stove. Thats the kind of service you get in an Italian restaurant that has only seven tables. The Willamette Noodle Company offers a personal dining experience that you could never get from a big chain restaurant. Servers know their customers by name and know exactly how they like their meals prepared.
Tonight my wife ordered penne with chicken, mushrooms and kalamata olives in a spicy marinara sauce. Myself, spaghetti with meat sauce. Both were excellent and so was the Caesar salad and bread that comes with the meal. Most of the meals are around $10-$13 and taste as good or better than anywhere else in town. There is sometimes a wait to get in but never too long and you can always order take out. Willamette Noodle Company is located on the corner of Broadway and Hood Street NE, you've probably seen it on your way to the Salem Parkway. For casual dining in town this is one of the best.
willamettenoodle.com


30 comments:

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Wow-you mean that's the old building that held that dreadful "Rockin' Roger's" burger joint for so long?

Nice to see what they're doing with it. And nobody ever loses by promoting quality Italian food.

Nice title to the blog by the way. I imagine some people have been wanting to see Salem getting eaten for quite some time. B-)

Anonymous said...

That's a great place in a bad neighborhood. The owner was looking into moving to Lancaster Blvd but that never happened. Now I think they would like to be in South Salem. Much higher rent though. Maybe he should raise the prices on the food. I'd still eat there.

Janet said...

Wow - thanks for the praise! We really appreciate the support of our loyal customers! We know you come in spite of our location and we are considering other options for locations... but in all honesty - we love our little building! We just celebrated our 4th anniversary on June 19th, and look forward to serving Salem quality food for several more years!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I didn't know this was a bad neighborhood --- somebody has a pretty acute sense of "bad" -- we just moved here a few months ago and WNC is the best; we've eaten there more than any place else in town so far.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather go out and eat in that neighborhood, then go out and fight traffic on Lancaster!!!

Anonymous said...

WNC is the best place for pasta in Salem! I went there for lunch recently and got one of the specials, Penne with Chicken and Avocado Cream Sauce. It was different and fantastic! Penne, chicken, tomatoes and cilantro in a creamy, garlicky avocado sauce. Perfection!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't realize this was a bad neighborhood either... Too bad I have lived here for 2 years. We have not eaten at the WNC yet, as it is always packed!! Will definately make time now. Thanks!

Food Troll said...

I have nothing bad to say about this place. At all. They even have cute wait-staff. It got even better when they switched to fresh pasta.

They do a good job with take-out too.

Anonymous said...

"Bad neighborhood"? This neighborhood is totally up-and-coming. There's a new music venue/bar opening on Belmont, and Salem Cinema is moving in, new condos are being built. Seeing potential in an old neighborhood is what makes a city grow "up not out". And WNC rules!

Anonymous said...

I heard that this was the best place in Salem. I wasn't disappointed by the food or the wait staff, although the dining room is tiny and you feel like you are listening in on others conversations. I would eat here again if just for the basket of bread. The tiramisu was sub-par, though.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I got take-out from WNC for Valentine's Day this year. They were so busy, but our order was perfect, on time and they were very courteous. I can't say enough good things about them, try it soon if you've never been!

Anonymous said...

i love WNC! i discovered them a few years back when i first started working about two block away from there. great food. in my opinion they're on the spendy side, but i guess i only think that because i know i could whip up a huge portioned pasta dish at home for dirt cheap. however, pasta is often among the most expensive items on any restaurants menu and that being said, WNC does seem pretty reasonable.

do you think you'll try Johnny's Bar and Grill that just opened in the Noble's plaza? i'm curious if they're any good for how flashy they look and if they have a good happy hour. i heard they make a steak right.

Anonymous said...

Yes, very good food but my husband and I laugh every time we drive by and people are waiting outside in the cold and rain or people are standing inside on top of each other waiting for someone to finish eating and leave. Also they have a note on the back of their menu that just about says hurry up and eat and get out of here. I would much rather pay a couple dollars more and eat at Carusos where you can make reservations and sit and relax through your meal.

Anonymous said...

I agree WNC is good, but Caruso's in Keizer beats any Italian resturant in the Salem-Keizer area. They have the best food, atmosphere, and service quality is #1 at Caruso's. I still need to try their new location next to the Lake. Anybody who plans on trying Caruso's, make sure you call ahead and make a RESERVATION. I tried to go during the lunch hour one time without a reservation. I was told that I would have to wait two hours before there was an opening.

SalemStinks! said...

Let me preface this by saying that I will give Willamette Noodle Co another shot. That being said, my wife and I stoped there on Tuesday to try it after reading all the glowing recomendations. We were very dissapointed. We were there 15 minutes before we were even approached. Dinner took an 1 1/2 hours and the pasta was over done! No apology, no discount no thank you.

Like I said, it might have been a bad day, but I would pick Caruso's or even Geppetto's over that place.

SalemStinks! said...

Maybe it was a bad night, but my wife and I went on Tuesday and had horrible service and overdone pasta. It took and 1 1/2 hours for our meal. And that was just two of us. No refill of water, they forgot my salad and no apology for the time or mistakes! We will probably try again at some point, but I would suggest Caruso's or Geppetto's over this place.

Anonymous said...

Ho-Hum. That is about the best way I can describe their food. However, the food was great in comparison to the service at Willamette Noodle Co. They were understaffed and the male waiter we had was unattentive and unfriendly and the service was extremely slow. Pretty sad that this place with mediocre food and terrible service is voted as one of Salem's best restaurants. Count me out!

Anonymous said...

We have eaten at WNC several times since they opened a few years ago. When they first opened, we were delighted with the food and service. It was the type of resturant we had been wanting in Salem for a long time! However, the last few times we have been there, we have been more than dissapointed. The resturant was freezing, the food was cold, and lacked flavor. But worst of all their was a hair in my pasta. Now dont get me wrong, the service was good this time. The waitress was quick to comp my meal and gave me a coupon for my next visit. Unfortunatly I dont think we will be returning...The atmosphere is OK, it is small and limited table space. The price is fair but in my opinion a tad over priced for pasta and sauce. It is casual enough for a week night dinner, but fancy enough for a weekend date night as well. The atmosphere, table space and service don't make up for it's faults with flavor and price however.

Anonymous said...

I have oderd take out on three occasions. Over the phone EVERYTIME they have been extremely rude. The first time I just excused it as "they are very busy" and evertime I have picked food up there, they really are busy. The food is awesome, and that is another reason I have came back three times. I have not been back for a couple months because of the impatient, rude customer service over the phone. I buy for my whole family, so I do spend a good amount of money. Maybe after you read this message you will work harder to give more polite service over the phone. If it had happend to me three times, I am sure it has also happend to someone else. Maybe I will give it one more try, and hope that my advise was taken and I will have a 100% good experience. I hope so I miss the very good food, but I want the whole experience.

Anonymous said...

we just tried WNC for the first time tonight. my adult mac wasn't the greatest but my dh's spaghetti with meat sauce was wonderful. our waitress was very nice, but interestingly the cook sounded like a complete jerk. someone called to complain about some take out they had and he started screaming from the kitchen about how there was nothing wrong with the food and that the customer was just trying to get a free meal and there was no way they were going to get a credit. wasn't great ambiance to be eating a dinner in.

Anonymous said...

We just ate at WNC for my birthday dinner. We have been there about four or five times always good, but its been a couple of months. I found my food to be subpar and my girlfriend got a hair in her food. Had to send it back and ask that they take it off the bill. I will not be going here again. I also noticed that the chef looked about eighteen. Explains the quailty of the food. Frankly I've had better food in the pokey

Valley Dweller said...

This place is excellent. One of the handful of truly good places to eat in Salem. If even there is occasional glitches, It's worth it.

Lisa Anne said...

I finally went here yesterday for lunch. It really is a hidden gem of Salem. So good! I had the grown up mac and cheese, with the house salad and bread. The bread was addicting. I love garlic, cheese and olive oil. The mac and cheese was super and so was the salad. I can't wait to get a chance to go back. I'd love to go for dinner with the family, but don't know how that's be with the small dining area.

Anonymous said...

My partner and I went here for dinner last month, we moved to Salem recently and are trying out new places. I should preface this by saying that we've both worked as professional chefs and are picky about dining out. But we still keep trying when we want to enjoy a relaxing evening out! We arrived on a Friday evening and were expecting a little wait, so no problem. We waited about 30 minutes outside on some chairs, watching the world go by, it was pleasant to sit and talk together. We were seated and our server was very sweet and nice. We were really happy with the service in fact, it was as prompt as could be expected on a busy night and the server was friendly and set just the right tone for a little family restaurant. We ordered a bottle of Italian red which was only $14, nothing fancy but we were happy with the drinkability of this inexpensive table wine. We had garlic cheese foccacia to start and it was not quite right. The foccacia was pretty undercooked, so it ended up being a dough wad topped with cheesy goodness. I had a house salad which had a very nice vinaigrette, boyfriend had a caesar salad which was pretty low on the anchovy flavor to his taste. Then I had a pasta with chicken, mushroom, and an herbed cream sauce. Boyfriend had primavera with thyme cream sauce. The pasta was served nice and hot and the cream sauce was a good consistency. The vegetables in the primavera were cooked as perfectly as anyone could hope, in fact they were really the highlight of the meal! It is not often you receive such perfectly cooked fresh veggies at a restaurant. On the down side, the pasta was a little overcooked and mushy and the cream sauces were flavored with obviously dried herbs and could really have benefited from a punch of fresh herb flavor, they tasted a little "dusty." We finished with a tiramisu, I only ate one bite. I prefer tiramisu with more emphasis on the mascarpone and coffee and less chocolate, but I can say it wasn't overly sweet, which is nice. My boyfriend loved it! As for price, yes, the pastas were perhaps a little overpriced if you look at it from the point of view of what you would pay to make the same food at home, but I think it's silly to say that, after all, if you're sitting at a restaurant you obviously didn't feel like cooking. Overall, this is a friendly little place to try, and if their cooks will just polish up a few aspects of the food such as cooking times and fresh herbs, it would be just right.

Sharon said...

I love this place. The best item (not on menu any longer, but they're still happy to make)is the pasta-less chicken alfredo. Its baked in a dish slathered in cheesy goodness and drowning in a creamy sauce! It can cost upward of $10-12 but worth every penny!

Anonymous said...

I find this restaurant a bit expensive. Pasta is one of the cheapest foods to make. I am not sure, is their pasta homemade? If so they should advertise it, because that could make their prices seem more reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. I'm sure their pasta is not homemade and if it were, they would make sure everyone knew, cause that is not the way restaurants in Salem do things! Your comment is exactly why I don't eat here. I'm sure the food is fine, but you're right, its one of the cheapest things to cook. I don't like paying so much for a dish I could as easily have at home (pasta sauces aren't hard to make, usually, are they!) (honestly, neither is homemade pasta -- try it yourself, it's delicious!).

Willamette Noodle said...

Hi folks - just wanted to address the last 2 Anonymous comments on this old post...

We actually do make a lot of our pasta in house - all the filled pastas (tortellini and raviolis) as well as our fresh pasta sheets (used for lasagna and cannelloni) are made by my cute hubby Rob. We also buy fresh pasta from an artisinal pasta manufacturer in Portland that makes our pasta to order. The fettuccine and rigatoni come from them since they have the industrial equipment necessary for the extruded pasta (like tubes). We have tried fresh pasta for our macaroni but it just isn't as good as the dried... some things just require a heartier noodle.

We do "advertise" all the handmade items on our menus, on Facebook and on our menu (which you may not see if you don't visit us - so point well taken!). In addition to the above pastas, we also bake our Focaccia, Ciabatta (hearth-baked style bread), meatballs AND our housemade Sweet Italian Sausage in house from hand-ground primal cuts of meat (so we don't have to use any preservatives or additives).

And yes, you can make just about anything at home for less than you pay when eating out, and we know most folks do. When you eat out you need to remember our prices need to cover things like rent, labor, utilities, insurance... well - if you figured out how much it costs to run your household for a day and then added that to your dinner costs, you might get the picture. As I've said before, no one goes in to the restaurant industry to get rich - we just want to share our love of food with others, and in the process we are providing over 2 dozen folks in our community with employment.

Hope that information is helpful - we would love to see you visit some time!

KandN said...

Thanks for the clarifications, WNC! I appreciate the time and care you take with your replies on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Yeah -- that's really cool that yall make so much of your product by hand, in-house! Market that... People will eat it up (no pun intended). I would be much more inclined to visit an establishment such as yours and pay the prices, whatever they may be, for home-made pastas and house-made sausages, things I wouldn't be able to taste anywhere else, things that are specifically yours. Very cool to know. Perhaps people outside of your menu-readers need to be informed.