The Old Spaghetti Warehouse

~Review by Chuck Bradley
It seems OSW is a place that engenders strong opinions pro or con. Folks are either charmed by the funky datedness or completely offended by it. I see no noticeable change in its d├ęcor from when my brother celebrated his 40th birthday here in 1994. But you’ll notice it’s the rare comment that derides the food or berates the value.

She who must be obeyed and I had an early dinner here tonight. Having read the ’07 review and subsequent posts, my senses were honed to notice things previously observed. The place is old. You either like it/or can live with it or you don't/can’t. It was dark, but not dingy nor dirty. I find the eclectic hodge-podge of furnishings interesting. The bed frame benches are examples of creative ingenuity and when you looked at them, for the first time, I’ll bet you smiled. Come on, admit it!

We arrived about 4:30 PM and were immediately seated. Pleasant classic music played softly in the background. By 5:00 PM the place was hutched! They accept reservations, but only for parties of 6 or more.

Carol ordered ½ Lasagna and ½ Spaghetti with meatless sauce ala carte. I had the Calzone Dinner, which included Hot-From-The-Oven Bread, Soup (I chose Cream of Portabella Mushroom) or Salad and Dessert (I selected Cream Brule) and a glass of Gabbiano DOCG Italian Chianti. My Soup was excellent. Carol loved her Lasagna but thought the Spaghetti was lacking. (Of course it was lacking! She ordered meatless sauce!) My Calzone was delicious, and huge! Its sauce was wonderful. The bread (Half a small loaf) was served with soft garlic butter, and was replaced the moment it was gone. The wine was alright, but to tell you the truth, I’d have been just as happy with a glass of Carlo Rossi Paisano. I’m not a dessert guy usually. I only ordered Cream Brule because I knew Carol would be all over it. When it arrived, her eyes sparkled. When I pushed it across the table to her, she gave me that big smile of hers. That was worth the price of admission right there!

Others have commented that the time between order and presentation is excessive. When meals are created one at a time, Golden Arches turn-around time is just too much to expect. This is not the kind of food which should be hurried in its preparation or enjoyment.

Our server, Sarah, was cheerful and proficient. She was serving more tables than any one person should have to, but never missed a beat.

We think OSW offers more bang for the buck than most places. It is what it is and shouldn’t be expected to be anything else. We like it.

920 Commercial ST SE
Salem, OR 97302
(503) 391-9005


Salem Man said...

Oh Chuck, you make this place sound so charming. We need to get the guy from that restaurant makeover show in there and gut that place. I say this because the restaurant could be really good. They have decent food. They should add a quarter or so to the price of every entree and save some money to redo the decor. Stay with the warehouse theme, sure. Get new stuff to store in the warehouse, yes. Get rid of those bed benches, absolutely. We have made great progress in the last few years in our restaurant options in town. TOSW has fallen completely off my list of places to eat since my last visit. It would be nice if this place could keep up with the rest of the dining options in town.

Jessica said...

I have eaten there only once. I ordered the Vegetarian Lasagna, and while it was some of the best lasagna I have ever had, our server was very inattentive. Not only did the food take a long time to come out, but when the meal was over, we could not find our server anywhere for the check. She finally showed up and admitted she had "forgotten about us". Oh ok.... :)

Great food, bad wait times :) As we only went once i am not going to say "The service is bad" because of one server but yes... don't forget your patrons, haha ;)

Anonymous said...

Dear Chuck,
THank you so much for giving OSW the review they deserve! I love the place too!

also at Salem Man,
You just seem like a jerk. You have already provided your opinion on OSW, it was COMPLETELY unnecessary to put a link of your review again. There is a reason they have the decor they have, it's called a WAREHOUSE so they will have random things. I personally think it is awesome they have an eclectic style. The bed posts turned into booths are their "thing", not to mention it sure seems eco friendly to recycle something old and make them something new and creative.

Pam said...

We went to OSW a couple of times about 5-7 years ago. Recently it was my turn to pick where to go out to eat (we take turns to keep everyone happy) so I insisted on OSW.

BTW, I love the concept. The funky mis-matchy decor, the placemat art gallery, the menu... Love it. That's why I wanted to go back. And so we did.

Since the comments on both reviews seem to indicate OSW is hit or miss, we must have been there on a miss. Thursday night, 6ish, three tables plus us so not too busy. Two spaghettis and a calzone, and a 15 minute wait from the time we were seated to getting the bread and water. Were they growing the wheat to make the bread? Did they lose their ice recipe for the water? What? No explanation or apology from the waitress.

The sauces we ordered for the spag was meat, alfredo, and white clam. While none tasted completely made from scratch, they also weren't as salty or chemical-flavored as if they were canned. Overall, the food didn't really excite us. The calzone was ... okay. We realize that for the price we shouldn't expect the Best Meal Ever, but for the price, it would have been nice to eat something better than my teenager could slap together by boiling pasta and heating up a jar of Ragu.

I really want to have a great experience at OSW, but I don't want to waste my eating out budget to keep trying.

PS: We also weren't thrilled about the lighting at our table. My head cast a shadow over my plate. Call me picky, but I'd rather not have to lean to one side to see what I'm eating. (I couldn't shift to another spot at our booth.)

Anonymous said...

OSW may get a new spot soon. Keep your ears to the ground Salem!

Anonymous said...

Its official tosw will be closing its doors on feb 28th and will be reopening april 1st at 120 commercial st (currently Alessandros ) . They wil be open for lunch and have a full bar .

KandN said...

I wish them well in their new location. Being closed for a whole month will be tough on the whole crew, I imagine.

Anonymous said...

What the story on Alessandro's then?

KandN said...

I understand it's retirement time, but soon we'll let you know what we find out.

Anonymous said...

KandN I understand Alessandro’s closed due to a bad economy. The restaurant is no longer profitable.

KandN said...

Yes, I read that story, too, but as I look around at our other area restaurants it's clear to me there's more to it than just the economy.

Anonymous said...

Well, perhaps. But what pray tell? Friend's of mine used to dine there. They said, each time they went the place was virtually empty. People can't eat at high end restaurants like they used to. The economy IS bad. And food costs are at an all time high. And now gas prices are on the rise (again).

KandN said...

Anonymous, For starters you must be attentive to details when you're running a high end restaurant--ask any of the owners/chefs in Salem. The chairs N and I sat on Valentine's Day, had cushions added to hide what felt like a fist sized hole or weak spot in the caning. Not a good beginning.
The menu items need to stay fresh/up to date. I'd rather not go somewhere that has the same menu they've had for the past 20 years. Listening and being responsive to your customers is also key. You're building relationships. Especially in a small city like Salem.

Anonymous said...

The facade of that building needs some serious sprucing up. It sure doesn't look like a restaurant.

It has always looked so stuffy from the outside. Does not look like an inviting restaurant.

Anonymous said...

My family was introduced to The Old Spaghetti Warehouse about 7 years ago. We find ourselves going to other Italian restaurants and comparing them to TOSW. We have eaten at many Italian restaurants from Vegas to Oregon and still after all of them TOSW is first on our list. The ambiance and deco fits the word "old" in their name for sure but the value, quality and price are unbeatable. The taste of their food in which we usually get the traditional spaghetti and meat sauce is really good. The brown butter and noodles is a good choice as well. We have tried just about every sauce on the menu and have absolutely no complaints about any of them. They are all really good. The bread they serve (awesome), the soups they serve (especially the mushroom blend soup), the main courses and of course the best part is their burnt creme dessert are all something you won't want to miss. You will get full for a good price and we would recommend it to anyone looking for a good Italian restaurant.

Anonymous said...

The new location is awesome. The place is charming and the food is really tasty! I was shocked at the generous portions and dessert included! The burnt creme was fabulous. Definitely a great place to eat.