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Several days ago I gave in to my curiosity about the restaurant I always drive by, Espanol Italian Dinners. I have always wondered why a restaurant with a name like Espanol would serve Italian food but, tis not mine to judge.
When you walk into Espanol which has been at its current location for over 40 years you can quite literally feel the transformation from modern day to yesteryear. The furniture, artwork and cash register which oddly resembles a slot machine appear as they would in an old gangster film.
As we looked around the crowd was mature and tame. It seemed clear that this concept was brought to life in an era when dining out meant something very different. While we at no point were under the impression this restaurant was fine dining, some of what we experienced was curious to say the least.
As we sat our water was brought in a plastic pitcher and placed in the middle of the table. This is actually not uncommon in a family style environment. I actually appreciate having refills readily available for myself.
Our server was a seasoned woman named Deborah who was both attentive and courteous. Things however began to turn slightly when we received our bread. Bread is delivered at Espanol in a wicker basket which is fine, not fine is the fact the basket is not lined with linen or anything else. If the guests in the restaurant had their hands all over that basket half as much as my son did there is an issue. Next we noticed the teenage bus girl snapping gum in the dining room as she was clearing tables which I suppose is also fine if the owners don’t mind? Next we witnessed our future leader of tomorrow picking up glassware four at a time by truly sticking her fingers inside of the glasses exposing her to whatever germs the guests might have left behind. Our hero then stopped at the next table, pulled out her cell phone and began texting away.
I realize this was a casual atmosphere but does this also mean there are no standards? The original location of the restaurant opened in 1923 at 114 J Street. Clearly many of the practices at Espanol were put into play before the Department of Health was invented.
As for our meal I will skip ahead and say it was indeed food. My son ordered Spaghetti and my wife and I had Ravioli with meatballs. I will admit the sauce was quite tasty but will also say the Ravioli gave off hints of freezer door. All two of the meatballs were absolutely delicious, it is a shame they were both the size of large marbles.
Please know I generally will go into great detail about service, flavors and the experience as a whole. I pride myself on being fair as a writer as I see things through the eyes of both the patron and employee. Espanol did not meet our expectations on any level which is why I choose to stop the review here before I unveil a colorful selection of adjectives describing our visit.
Espanol has been in business for many years and has withstood a down economy when many of Sacramento’s other restaurants have fallen. It would seem they are doing something right somewhere. My theory is the customer base at Espanol is made up of loyal regulars and locals. If this is indeed the case the owners should start to think about what to do after this generation of diner is no longer around and the people entering through the doors have actual expectations. It is unfortunate but I predict a sad end for a restaurant family that has been a part of Sacramento history for many years unless they can at least bring themselves into the 1990’s.
Espanol is located at 5723 Folsom Boulevard. Parking is available on property and all major cards are accepted. 916-457-1936. As always, please know I am in no way affiliated with this or any restaurant I review. My goal is to go out and slowly experience different aspects of the Sacramento dining scene then share those experiences with you.