(UPDATED 7/18/20) Description and review of dinner at Espanol Italian Restaurant, serving Sacramentans since 1923! NEW: Espanol Closing – See UPDATE below.
Eleven members of the Sacramento Women’s Action Network (SWAN) met at Espanol Italian Restaurant recently to hold our monthly meeting and check out Espanol as a potential meeting location. SWAN’s has been “homeless” since the Café Bernardo building on Capitol Avenue was torn down to make way for a boutique hotel complex. Since that time we have been meeting in varied restaurants that have private dining rooms hoping to find a replacement meeting location that meets our needs.
The Espanol Italian Restaurant is located on Folsom Blvd. in East Sacramento, right across the street from Corti Brothers Market. I knew that the Espanol Italian Restaurant had been around for a long-long time – but I had not been there previously.
The restaurant has a parking lot – a big plus – and I was happy to immediately secure a parking space.
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When I entered the Espanol Italian Restaurant I immediately took in the main dining room décor – which includes dark wood paneled walls and vinyl red and white checked tablecloths. The décor is dated – but it is just what you would expect an old-time Italian restaurant to look like.
From where I was standing I could see the private dining room in the back so I made my way past the diners in the main dining room. It was 6:00 p.m. on a weekday and the good-sized main dining room appeared to be about half full.
Espanol Italian Restaurant is known for its four-course family-style meals – but I was happy to find that you could also order your meal “a la carte”. The four course meal includes Minestrone Soup, a green salad, an entrée and dessert.
Prior to the start of the meeting I chatted with the SWAN member on my left, mentioning that it was my first time there. She said that she had been there numerous times, and told me that her grandfather had for years dined at Espanol six days a week (they are closed on Monday).
I was not overly hungry – so I ordered the soup and salad with roll ($10.95). I also ordered a glass of the Wente Chardonnay ($8.) Others SWAN members ordered a wide variety of dishes from the menu – some the full dinner and others a la carte. The Minestrone soup, bread and butter, and homemade salad dressings (blue cheese, Italian, ranch) were served family-style.
After we all received our beverages we started the meeting. The soup bowls of those not having soup were removed, and before long several large bowls of Minestrone soup were placed on our table so that we could help ourselves. Since I had only ordered soup and salad – and before my salad was served – our waitress asked if I had sufficient soup and if I would like her to bring me more. I said no, but I certainly appreciated the offer.
Shortly thereafter those whose order included salad were served. When the entrees arrived our waitress was assisted by other staff which meant that everyone received their main course more or less at the same time. The portions of the various pasta dishes served were huge! At the end of the meal the majority of SWAN members took “doggie bags” home with them.
The SWAN member on my other side had ordered the full dinner – but had to leave early before dessert was served (although she did get her doggie bag). After her departure our waitress asked if I would like to have her spumoni ice cream – and I gladly said yes!
Based on this one-time experience I would describe my meal as follows:
- The Minestrone soup was not the best I have ever had – but it was solid
- The salad was good – the lettuce crisp – so A-OK in my book
- The sliced baguette was nothing special – but it was fresh
- The spumoni ice cream was delicious
When I checked with some of my fellow SWAN members the general consensus seemed to be that their meals were “OK” i.e. nothing to rave about but adequate. It strikes me that over the years tastes have changed – and Espanol Italian Restaurant hasn’t – but why should they?
Based on our collective experience that evening, I believe that SWAN has found a new “home” for now. The combination of a parking lot and accommodating staff, combined with a relatively quiet private room along with a willingness to provide separate checks wins out over all the rest.
I look forward to trying some of the other items on the menu in the future.
(UPDATED 7/18/2020) The Sacramento Bee recently reported that Espanol Italian Restaurant, after 97 years, will shut their doors in August. Espanol is a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The restaurant, which moved locations several times over the years, has been located on Folsom Blvd. since 1965. With no outdoor areas to serve patrons, Espanol has been limited to doing take-out during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Co-owner Perry Luigi told the Sacramento Bee that they are keeping the restaurant name and liquor license, and that there is a possibility that the restaurant may reopen in a new location next year.
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