Old Spaghetti Factory vs Olive Garden: Who is better?
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
When it comes to Italian eateries in the Lower Mainland (LM), the pickings are slim. The reason is perplexing, as Italian food is some of the best tasting food around. That combined with the culture make it a most enjoyable eating experience. The only chain restaurants you can get good Italian food in the area are Old Spaghetti Factory (OSF) and Olive Garden (OG), but which Italian cuisine specialist reigns supreme?
First comes the OSF. The Factory is one that many Douglas College students may be familiar with as there is a location just outside of the New Westminster Skytrain Station on Carnarvon and Eighth Street. I’m a fan of restaurants with character, and OSF in New West has character in spades. It has many artifacts on the walls like old scales, and a shelf filled with random books. The most noted feature of the restaurant is a streetcar in the middle of the restaurant with the words Westminster and Vancouver Tramway Co.” The restaurant is trying to reflect the history of the area, which as a fan of regional history, I can appreciate.
For the meal. I went for the classic spaghetti and meatballs with red sauce. The meal came with the “It’s all included” bread, soup, spumoni ice-cream, and tea or coffee (I opted out of the tea or coffee). The soup was a tasty minestrone and the bread was very good. The highlight though was the butter as it came in both regular and garlic. Along with its great presentation of being placed on a cutting board made the bread a truly unique part of the eating experience. The spaghetti I found though was not the best. I felt they used too much red sauce, and the meatballs were not as big as I would have liked; still very good but could have been better. The ice cream at the end was a nice touch. All in all, a great meal for a great price.
To eat at OG, you have to go far out of your way, as the only OG location in the Lower Mainland is in Langley. Considering OSF has five locations in the LM, the Factory wins in the convenience factor. The building has character like OSF but differently, as OG is set up like an old Italian villa with stone walls and brick shingles inside the restaurant.
I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs just like at OSF for a controlled test. Just like OSF, the OG meal also included unlimited soup and breadsticks. The breadsticks were delicious. It’s not a loaf like at OSF and it does not have the garlic butter, but if you are just looking to eat without prepping, it has its advantages. Next came the soup which for me was the highlight. While OSF only served the one soup, OG gave me four options for soups. I chose the chicken and gnocchi which was out of this world delicious. So hearty and creamy. I could have subsisted on the soup alone and it would have been a great meal.
Then came the spaghetti and meatballs. The portion was insanely huge to the point that I was surprised I was able to get through it. I ordered this one with meat sauce, which was an improvement over just red sauce at OSF. The meatballs were also bigger, though they were an extra charge. The meal did not come with ice cream at the end, but with how hardy the food was, there was no room for it. In the end, a trip to the Langley OG was worth it.
OSF wins the battle in terms of convenience of location, aesthetic, and bread, but OG wins in the soup, main meal, and service. In the end, OG just edges out OSF for Italian food supremacy in this eater’s book. However, if one is looking for a great Italian meal, you can’t go wrong with either.