SPAGHETTI EDDIE’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT
946 S. Grand Ave., Glendora. 626-963-0267
Lunch and dinner, every day; breakfast buffet Sunday mornings.
The Food: The very essence of red-sauce Italian cooking, drawn from an oversized menu heavy with specials (try the Red Button Special on the website, and the daily specials on the Twilight Menu), served in a shopping mall setting, in a lively restaurant that seems to always been full of hungry locals, in need of serious pasta.
About $20 per person. MC, V.
Beer and wine.
Rating: THREE STARS
By Merrill Shindler
Spaghetti Eddie’s Italian Restaurant first opened in Glendora in 1985, a more modest space than it’s in now.
It was mostly a pizzeria at first. But owners Eddie Inglese and his brother-in-law Jim Hermanson had a dream of bringing the joys of oregano, garlic and red sauce to the barren shoals of the central San Gabriel Valley. Which they’ve done over the years with new concepts like Tutti Mangia and Eddie’s Pizzeria & Eatery (both in Claremont), Eddie’s Cucina Italiana in Rancho Cucamonga — and in the much-expanded mothership of Spaghetti Eddie’s just north of the 210 in Glendora — arguably the most popular Italian restaurant this side of Pasadena.
It’s grown a lot over the years. And yet, as much as it’s grown, Spaghetti Eddie’s always seems to be jammed with locals (and not so locals; it is freeway adjacent, after all) — large groups taking up large tables covered from edge to edge with large platters of chow. Indeed, the best way to eat at Eddie’s is to go with a crowd: that way you get to taste a little of a lot (or in some cases, a lot of a lot).
Show up at prime dinner times, on prime dinner days, and you should expect a wait; acolytes tend to linger at Eddie’s, where they’re having too much fun to dine and dash.
Indeed, the appetizers alone can keep you planted to your seat for a long time. The garlic puffs aren’t so much a dish, as an addiction — puffy balls of cooked dough jumbled in a mix of olive oil, roasted garlic and various herbs and spices. (Betcha can’t eat just one!) There are remarkably good crispy artichoke hearts that come with a lemon-garlic sauce that’s so tasty, you may start licking it off your fingers. The garlic bread is a serious exercise in the spreading of the Stinking Rose: it’s thick with the stuff. And I like the tasty addition of gorgonzola cheese to the bruschetta — making an ordinary dish extraordinary.
You can put three of the appetizers together on one plate for $11.99, a terrific deal. And enough food to pass as a meal. But then, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the classic, thick-as-a-stew minestrone, one of the best around. And if you’ve never tried Italian wedding soup, this is the one to sip: chicken broth with tiny meatballs, escarole and orzo pasta — perfection!
And let us remember: This is Spaghetti Eddie’s. Which means the pastas are a dominant motif. They’re divided into “Pasta Classics,” “Eddie’s Favorite” and “Baked & Stuffed Pasta.” Once again, they offer a trio, in this case of Eddie’s Favorite, a platter (for $18.99) of the thick-as-a-brick (which is a good thing!) house lasagna, the chicken parmigiana, and the fettuccine Alfredo, a trio of dishes from the Jurassic Period of Italian-American cooking (which is also a good thing!)
For those who prefer to focus on a single dish, go for the rigatoni Bolognese, an exercise in the joys of meat sauce and thick, al dente pasta. The beef ragu used by Eddie is a work of art, a hearty beef stew that covers every pasta tube inside and out.
I’m also kind of mad for the tortellini casalinga: three colors of tortellini tossed with Italian sausage and a pesto sauce, a dish to warm you on the coldest of days. And if your cholesterol is under control, try the gemelli mac ‘n cheese, an S-shaped strand of pasta twisted into a braid, jumbled with applewood bacon, spinach, a béchamel sauce, toasted bread crumbs, and a pair of cheeses: Romano and caciovallo. Not a dish for the faint of appetite. But for those with a heavy fork, a real joy.
And, of course, Spaghetti Eddie’s isn’t just spaghetti, though many of the main courses are served with pasta (and with a choice of soup or salad: a deal!). There’s a terrific retro quality to the selection: chicken marsala and veal marsala, chicken piccata and veal piccata, chicken alla Vesuvio and veal saltimbocca (a great fave from back in the day, of veal medallions topped with prosciutto and provolone). There’s no cioppino, but there are two cioppino wannabes, the seafood misto and the linguine pescatore, close enough for rock ’n’ roll.
And yes, there’s pizza; Eddie’s did begin as a pizzeria. The toppings are both traditional and premium, and the pre-mades are more than worth it. Especially the Bada Bing — mozzarella, gorgonzola, Roman, goat cheese, and Italian sausage. There’s a Twilight Menu, a great deal, served weekdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. And there’s a three-course special for $14.95, that really can’t be beat.
Why is Spaghetti Eddie’s jammed? That’s easy: They do it right, and have for more than 25 years. Go early; that crowd isn’t going away.