Italian nostalgia

Thank you to everyone who participated in my first Let’s Do Lunch Downtown contest this month.

The winners of the gift certificates were:

$50 to East India Company: Shael

$50 to 4Play Sports Bar: Chrystal Friesen


If you didn’t win this round, don’t fret. I’ve got more stuff to give away.

This time I’ve got a $50 gift card to Old Spaghetti Factory and a $25 gift card to Dessert Sinsations.

To enter, leave a comment below telling me which one you’d like to try along with a way to contact you. (You can leave your email address in the form–it will be kept private.)

You’ve got until Friday at 9am to enter this one.


Old Spaghetti Factory
The Johnston Terminal, 957-1319

I can remember going to the Old Spaghetti Factory for pretty much my entire life. It’s the kind of place you can go with mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, kids and everyone else and their dog in tow, and everyone will find something they like. (Please note: they don’t allow dogs… I assume.)

I always love revisiting these places as an adult and realizing how much bigger they seemed when you were a kid. Although in the case of OSF, it’s still huge. My favourite room has always been the one surrounded by windows that looks out into the wilderness of The Forks site. After a day spent skating on the river, it’s the perfect place to warm up.

I am addicted to the bread and whipped garlicky butter they bring before your meal and always have to restrain myself from overdoing it before the food even comes.

I really love the sauteed mushrooms for an appetizer. They come swimming in a wine and butter sauce and it’s just the right size for two people to share.

One of the things OSF prides itself on is value, and they do that aspect extremely well. It’s hard to find a meal complete with salad or soup, entree and dessert for under $15 these days. Another reason this is a great option for families.

Of course you can’t go wrong with any of their pastas and I’ve always been partial to the classic spaghetti and meatballs and the spicy chorizo penne.

Last time I went, I thought I’d try something new with the spaghetti tossed in brown butter sauce and topped with shredded mizithra cheese–apparently it was a favourite of Homer’s while he was composing the Iliad. (We’re talking the Greek dude, not Simpson.) It was delicious and I’d definitely recommend it for someone who wants something a little different from the norm.

I also really like that you can opt for half sizes of the pasta in case you’re not feeling extremely hungry that day. (It’s never happened to me, but I assume it happens to other people.)


Dessert Sinsations
505 St. Mary’s Avenue, 284-4661

One of my very favourite get-together-with-the-girls places in the city is Dessert Sinsations. From creative and innovative menu items to a sparkling dessert case that kind of makes me want to cry with joy, it offers the most delectable combination of sweet and savoury.

The menu is packed with so many things to choose from. If you’re a regular reader at Downtown Peggy, you’ll know I’ve got a thing for poutine and Dessert Sinsations’ is one of my favourites. It’s made with a combination of regular and sweet potato fries and topped with a beautiful velvety gravy. You can even make it vegetarian and then it comes with an equally delectable mushroom gravy.

The moist and juicy portabella mushroom white cheddar burger is a can’t-miss menu item (currently featuring as a top contender in the Downtown Magazine best burger in downtown search). I also love the pulled roast turkey sandwich topped with tangy cranberry sauce and sweet red onion chutney.

For an entree choice, chèvre stuffed chicken breast is a good bet. It comes with an amazing strawberry rhubarb red onion compote and a creamy, buttery pistachio risotto. And for a local hit of flavour, I love the spiced pickerel that comes wrapped in a banana leaf (neat) and topped with blueberry siracha sauce (really neat). It too comes with risotto, but this time a corn one. It’s all to die for.

Once you’ve had your fill of dinner, that’s when the fun really begins. After all, in a place named after desserts, it would be a sin not to save room for some… see what I did there? Oh never mind.

The dessert case has got it all–tortes, cheesecakes, cookies, squares and cupcakes–and I’ve never gone away anything less than completely delighted. I’m always partial to lemon and chocolate desserts so I often go for the very citrusy lemon torte or the chocolate mint cheesecake. Along with poutine, I’ve also got a thing for cupcakes so I’ve been known to take one or two (or six) home with me after dinner to save for later.


On another note:

I also wanted to let you know about a promotion happening at Portage Place.

Purchase a $60 Portage Place Gift Card and get an additional $10 Gift Card free! Plus enter to win a $500 Portage Place Shopping Spree!

Offer valid from March 16 – 27.

I’ve also got a $100 gift card to give away to one lucky winner! To enter, go to the Downtown BIZ Facebook page and like us. If you’re already a fan, then you’re automatically entered! The draw will take place March 16.

54 thoughts on “Italian nostalgia

  1. I would love to go to the Old Spaghetti Factory! My parents would take us for a treat every now and then when it was located in it’s original building years ago!

  2. I love Italian food and I love downtown. I also love that downtown has a great variety of italian restaurants, from Bombolini’s and Amici’s to Tre Visi and the Old Spaghetti factory. Its been literally decades since I’ve been to the Old Spaghetti factory. We used to go there for birthdays as kids, I’d love to see how it is these days.

  3. I would love to try the Old Spaghetti Factory, Downtown Peggy! I remember going to their Old Location at the corner of Bannatyne and Princess many years ago and would love to check out their digs in The Johnston Terminal! Thanks for your consideration! 🙂

  4. Old spaghetti factory would be AWESOME. That’s my moms fave place and she has a birthday next week. Send it me way. :).

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  5. DESSERT SINSATIONS! and hopefully, if i win, i’ll actually try their non-dessert food… because every other time i’ve gone, i’ve been distracted by their amazing tortes 🙂 LOL

  6. We LOOOOOOOOOOOOOve the Old Spaghetti Factory
    The Spaghetti with Mithra cheese in the best and thats the only
    place ever, that I’ve had it. I dont know if U can even buy that
    kind of cheese. Kind of like Mozz, grated and hard on top of
    greased spag——ooooooooooooo to die for!

  7. Hi Peggy,
    Your description of Dessert Sinsations sounds wonderful. My friend has a big sweet tooth and I’d love to treat him…

  8. I was excited to hear that you are promoting Dessert Sinsations, this is one of my all time favorite places to eat, the atmosphere is great. It is also where my fiance proposed to me, and we are looking at eating there on our wedding day. We love it so much!

  9. I would love to win the Old Spagetti Factory prize. I haven’t been there in quite some time. It has been a Winnipeg staple for years, and it brings back lots ot memories of good times had there.

  10. Oh! I’ve always wanted to go to Dessert Sinsations especially because I’m at the U of W! If the faculty goes on strike, maybe I can actually find the time to visit!

  11. This sounds awesome! but i don’t know which one would be better to win they both sound awesome! Last time I was at the Old Spaghetti Factory was just after the skating trail opened it was beautiful, and we got a table by the window. I would love to take my grand parents with me to the Old Spaghetti Factory I can just imagine the stories they would tell.

    But then again Dessert Sinsations would be awesome too. I’ve never been but from the comments I’ve read I would love to go, I’ve got a HUGE sweet tooth. If I win I think I might have to have dessert first just to make sure I have room.

  12. I love the old spaghetti factory, my partner took me there for our one year and I loved it so much I kept taking my family members so they could get a taste for their yummy bread. Haven’t been there in a long time, I would love a gift card to eat there!

  13. I’d love to try Desert Sinsations! I’ve had the deserts but have never tried their regular food menu! I would love a chance to try it 🙂

  14. My friend lives near Dessert Sinsations and she says it’s very good. I haven’t tried it yet but would love to.

  15. I would love to go to Dessert Sinsations again. I’ve been there once before but have only had a dessert. I’ve heard that not only their dessert is good, but other things on their menu as well.

  16. Dessert Sinsations sounds amazing! I’ve never been there before and your description of their poutine has my mouth absolutely watering!! I would’ve thought a restaurant with that name would be dessert only, it would be fantastic to give their entire menu a try!!

  17. I haven’t been back to the Old Spaghetti Factory since they moved to the Forks. I would love to re-experience it.

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  18. My husband and I would absolutely LOVE a gift card to the Old Spaghetti Factory. We both work downtown, so it would be really wonderful (and convenient) to go there after work one day. We love their bread and pastas. Although I’m French/Belgian, I think that I must have been Italian in a past life for my love of Italian foods.

    Thank you very much for hosting such great contests Downtown Peggy! Good luck everyone. 🙂

  19. I would love to win the Dessert Sinsations gift card. It’s right around the corner from work and a sweet treat (or any treat) would be a most welcome break!

  20. I`d love to win the $50 gift card to Old Spaghetti Factory; i haven`t been there in so long and i love visiting the forks.

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