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Feb 4, 2009 06:02 AM

I almost can't believe how bad Spoleto's is

In spite of my better judgement, we ducked into Spoleto's for dinner after finding a parking spot on Main St., because it was too cold to walk any farther than we absolutely had to. I hadn't been there in years and thought perhaps my memory just hadn't been kind.

What a lame menu with such terrible food. Whoever compared it to Olive Garden was right. The only redeeming feature was a good selection of Grappa.

And does everything really need to be soaked in syrupy "balsamic reductions?"

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  1. And can you believe the prices?! My husband and I fell prey to them once just after we moved here 6 years ago. We won't go there again unless they change ownership or start making food worth the prices they charge! Ugh.

    1. Ha! Yeah, that was me regarding the Olive Garden comparison. Maybe the economic downturn means Spoleto's and the other incarnations of the Claudio Guerra empire (e.g. Mama Iguana's) will go the way of the dodo. As a chowhounder, I could use less "fun dining" and more good eats. Places like Spoleto unfortunately define the Northampton restaurant experience, and not for the better.

      1. Spoleto's been around for so long that newbies might think that they've just become accustomed to resting on their laurels. There's only one problem with that vein of thought, they have never, and at any point, had laurels to rest upon! To compare them to Olive Garden or, even worse, Papa Razzi would do those chains an injustice. So thanks for taking one for the team in this cautionary tale, memememe.

        All the best,

        9 Replies
        1. re: Harp00n

          Could someone indicate where in New England this is?

          ETA: Ah, found a reference to Northhampton...

          1. re: GSM

            Northampton, MA would be correct, or not, as the case may be. :-0)


            Spoleto Restaurant
            50 Main St, Northampton, MA 01060

            1. re: GSM

              It's in Northampton, MA. It's a "go-to" spot for people who visit NoHo who want a walk-in semi "fine dining" experience. It does have a lot of tables. You don't need a res. You can have a glass of wine. I would never seek it out for any particular reason but I can see how people who don't know the town too well end up there by default. Kinda just like the Northampton Brewery. It doesn't deserve any accolades, but I'm not sure it's aggressively horrible.

              The "Express" on King St. was okay for takeout pasta and sandwiches once in a while.

              Not that it's saying much, but I think the Olive Garden is *way* worse!

              1. re: hollerhither

                I have to confess, I've never actually eaten at an Olive Garden. I guess I really should have said that Spoleto's is what I imagine Olive Garden to be like!

                1. re: hollerhither

                  HI hollerhither,
                  We'll just have to agree to disagree on this one my friend,

                  "It's a "go-to" spot for people who visit NoHo who want a walk-in semi "fine dining" experience. It does have a lot of tables. You don't need a res. You can have a glass of wine." LOL!

                  I think you've just described what I would think is, at least in part, the Olive Garden's Mission Statement. Their pricing points are a slightly lower across the board and their menu is more varied than Spoleto's. Do I want to be a champion of OG?! But having been drug, err dragged, to both of them by my out-laws on several occasions in the last couple of years, OG. IMO, sucks less than Spoleto. Really.


                  1. re: Harp00n

                    I don't think we're all that far apart. :) Notice I didn't say anything that great about the food! But while I am only "meh" about Spoleto, I really, really hate Olive Garden. But I know we can agree there are a lot of other, better options in WMA.

                    1. re: hollerhither

                      You'r right, we're not and there are....


                      1. re: Harp00n

                        I hear ya, Harp. Saw that other post, too. Agreed. ;)

                        1. re: hollerhither

                          I'm certainly glad that you did. The Board's trolls have their reasons but sometimes it's bit hard to understand their parameters..


            2. Is most of the business for Spoleto and the Northampton Brewery locals or visitors? I get the feeling that NoHo and Amherst are sort of in a cultural bubble due to the universities.

              Am I wrong in this assumption?

              4 Replies
              1. re: bewley

                I really don't think most of the clientele are NoHo locals. When I first moved to town I went there until I got to know the other, better places, and now you couldn't drag me to the Brewery for anything (and now I live much closer to the Peoples Pint, which has way better food and brew anyway). It seems to be a lot of tourists and people from other towns who come up to Northampton specifically to shop or dine, or for shows -- and again, the large capacity of both places factors in for the walk-ins (and the Brewery has lots of outdoor seating in summer). No one I know goes to either spot. The colleges probably affect business on parents' weekends but I don't think either is a student hangout.

                1. re: hollerhither

                  I'm local. and I'll go to the Brewery to sit outside and have a snack and a beer in the summer. If I want pub food and a beer any other time I'd go to the Dirty Truth.

                2. re: bewley

                  Spoletos and a lot of the other crap in Northampton caters to tourists and visitors from Connecticut who think of Northampton as some sort of cultural destination, which it isn't (downtown is expensive, mediocre food and "art" galleries; read: a tourist trap).

                  1. re: chokeartichoke

                    Hey, I'm one of those visitors and Northampton is a fun day trip for those of us down south. No, it's not Boston, but you can park easily, get some fabric at the fabric store, cheap stuff and Deals and Steals, have a decent meal and some excellent beers at Dirty Truth. And it is cheaper than most similar places in CT, with lots of choice in one spot. Not to mention you don't have to take your life in your hands driving around Boston--I think NoHo drivers benefit from being close to CT.

                3. OK, now that everyone has come down on Spoleto's, where else is close by (walking distance) of the iron Horse and is fit for 3 couples this Saturday ? Doesn't have to be too fancy...just kinda' nice with decent food and atmosphere.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: monsonmooch

                    Green Street, 64 Green Street, is on the expensive side and might be too far to walk, but has the best food in Noho, I think. I've enjoyed Circa (57 Center Street), bistro, but you should make a reservation as it doesn't have tons of seating, slightly on the more pricey side. I also like Osaka, 7 Old South St., Japanese/sushi. For an inexpensive very casual but kinda fun "red sauce" place, Joe's, 33 Market Street, although with 6 of you it can be a squeeze depending on night/timing. Paradiso is owned by the Spoleto's people so it may get its share of bilious comments from 'hounds, but I liked ordering a prosciutto pizza and sangria there once in a while. I can't personally vouch for Sierra Grille, 41 Strong Ave., but it has gotten decent feedback from people. Others have mentioned The Dirty Truth, 29 Main Street, I've given up on it as it's a little too noisy for me and I don't enjoy the communal seating, but I did like the moules frites, and there's a good beer selection. 6 of you might get your own table!

                    AH, but this Saturday is Valentine's, so...make a reservation now or you WILL end up at Spoleto's or the Brewery, simply because they have the biggest capacity dining rooms...

                    1. re: hollerhither

                      Add Amanouz to the list if you're into North African. I don't particularly care for Dirty Truth's food. Green Street is preferred to Circa, on ambiance if for nothing else. It's maybe 1/4 mile from Iron Horse. Sierra Grill does a good and cheap moules frittes, and they have fries w/ duck gravy. Not impressed with the rest of the menu.

                      1. re: fame da lupo

                        Love Amanouz! My sister lived in Tunis for six months, and she loves that they go and get the real merguez sausage for their food.

                        Also a good place for veggies like me. And they sell beer and wine.

                        Oh now you've gone and made me hungry fame de lupo!

                        1. re: BratleFoodie

                          Ha! Yeah their merguez is pretty tasty.