If you like the same Italian food time after time after time, go to Olive Garden. If you want the real deal, made with love and made from scratch, hit the road and head to Facci's.
The longtime Hot Springs eatery was a mainstay for years on the main strip across from Oaklawn. But on November 15th, 1999, the old restaurant went up in flames. And for a few years, the town missed its flavorful marinara and thick alfredo.
But Facci's couldn't stay away from Oaklawn, and a few years ago it moved into the building that had stood next to the old restaurant, a tiny house with a few cramped tables.
Today, Mr. Strafaci's restaurant still looks over longingly at the fountain and entryway that still stand on the site of the old store, the only remnants of the renovations that had just been completed when the building burned. But Hot Springs natives and visitors aren't missing that unique Italian food.
The food? The menu has mostly remained intact, though the taste might vary a bit from day to day. Sometimes there's a little more oregano in the sauce; sometimes more tomato. But it's always good.
I visited the restaurant with friends on a chilly Friday in November, and was pleased to find a table to seat four. It still feels like home inside, with decor that says just as much about Arkansas as it does about Italy.
In fact, there are a lot more choices to consider at Facci's. One of my usual favorites is the Veal Scaloppini, thin sliced meat that dissolves in the mouth. My husband loves the Chicken Piccata, with its bright lemony goodness. There are also great sandwiches, hand-cut fried cheese sticks, and the best toasted ravioli you'll find for 200 miles.
And at lunch, there's a great special where you can eat as much spaghetti as you like for one low, set price.
No need to mourn any more. Facci's is back, and will remain a staple of the Hot Springs food scene. You'll find it at 2900 Central Avenue, just down and across the street from Oaklawn's main entrance. You can also call (501) 623-9049 or check out the restaurant's website.
printed in the December 2007 issue of the Little Rock Free Press
I went back to check it out again in January 2010. This article had been printed out and posted on the door.