There are others, but for me, the only Old Spaghetti Factory has been the dim, elaborately Victorian restaurant at Trolley Square that I have visited since I was a child.

However, a few months ago I was invited to a party at a newer Spaghetti Factory in Taylorsville. I enjoyed myself, so this week I brought my family for a weeknight dinner.

The newest Old Spaghetti Factory in the Salt Lake Valley is as much a riot of rococo excess as the one in Trolley Square.

There are the same fringed lamps and cut-glass and dark woods as at the Trolley restaurant, the same roomy upholstered booths — even a trolley car. But there are also deep golden walls that reflect light from the high windows and lofty ceilings, with a lobby that unmistakably calls to mind a train station from times gone by.

And, of course, there's the same reliable, reasonably priced food, with enough variety to please many palates. For all you Atkins disciples out there, there's even reduced-carb pasta.

We started with the garlic cheese bread. It arrives toasted and sprinkled — but, fortunately, not smothered — with Romano, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.

We all liked it, but I would have been fine with just the complimentary loaf of tart, crusty sourdough bread with scoops of regular butter and garlic butter.

I ordered minestrone soup with my meal, and my husband had a salad. The salad was basic but fresh and crisp. The real star of the course, however, was the steaming minestrone, a richly flavored broth full of pasta, beans, cabbage and other vegetables.

After just a few spoonfuls of soup, our entrees arrived. This pacing problem isn't exactly rare among restaurants, but it was difficult to enjoy my soup with my dinner cooling beside me.

My husband had the Premier platter, a thoughtful pairing of lasagna and chicken Marsala.

He liked the lasagna, with its moist but firm layers of cheese, meat, sauce and noodles, but I preferred the chicken. Its crackly breading quickly sopped up the dark, robust wine sauce, which was nicely complemented by a scattering of sauteed mushrooms.

I've always loved The Old Spaghetti Factory's white clam sauce, but this time I had the angel hair Florentine. It's a plate of ultra-thin pasta dressed in a light tomato "broth," fresh snipped spinach, mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes and chunks of ground Italian sausage.

The result is tasty but blander than I expected. I couldn't help wishing for more assertive mushrooms or spicier sausage.

The kids had plates of spaghetti with browned butter and myzithra cheese. This simple but rich dish is perfect for children, with its slippery noodles and lashings of intense white shredded cheese.

For dessert, the kids enjoyed their scoops of spumoni (I snitched a couple of bites), while we adults shared the mud pie.

It was frozen a little harder than I like, but once things softened up a bit we enjoyed the layers of mocha almond-fudge ice cream, almonds, chocolate syrup and a chocolate-cookie crust. The ice cream had a strong coffee flavor that, combined with the nuts, balanced the sweetness.

Appetizers and sides $1.50-$3.50, platters $8.95-$9.50, entrees $6.25-$9.35, desserts $3.25.

Rating: ***

Where: 5718 S. 1900 West, Taylorsville (966-2765); 189 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City (521-0424); 575 E. University Parkway, Orem (224-61999)

Hours: Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Monday-Thursday, 5-9:30 p.m.; Friday, 5-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3-9:30 p.m.

Payment: Checks, credit cards

Reservations: Taken Sunday through Thursday for groups of 15 or more


Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: