OK, so this is a little obsessive. Back in 2008, I had lunch in Muskogee in an excellent little Italian restaurant called Napoli’s. The meal I got was “Spaghetti: The Works”, and it was particularly fine. Since then, I had all manner of excellent food at Napoli’s, including fettuccine al fredo. There were a couple other of these restaurants that I noticed as I traveled around Oklahoma.
A year or so later, I had a meal at a place called Roma’s in Guthrie. Also excellent. And… it had a “Spaghetti: The Works” menu item. Over the past couple years, I have been to at least 10 restaurants that have the same menu item. In fact, mostly the same whole menus. I started asking owners and managers, and each of them deny being part of a chain or related to any other restaurants, although a few of them said they owned another edition (the Guthrie guy said he owned one in Drumright).
Back in early 2013, I was in Muskogee, and decided to eat lunch at Napoli’s. It was out of business, but I remembered a new restaurant on the east side of town called Gino’s. It had the same menu as Napoli’s, and the manager denied being related to Napoli’s. Hmmm…
So this afternoon, with too much time on my hands, I did a Google search for the phrase “Spaghetti: The Works”. I validated that each seemingly relevant entry in fact pointed to a menu entry for a restaurant. The phrase mapped to the following restaurant names:
Napoli’s, Luigi’s, Roma’s, Gino’s, Moriana’s, Venezia, and Marsala’s.
I made a list of these names and searched for likely locations. I ended up with 48 towns. 48! There were references to some other restaurants, and others that didn’t have a menu that was posted to be verified with the “Spaghetti: The Works”. These places were mainly in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa. So there are likely 55+ of these places around.
I saw an article online a couple years ago saying that the Napoli’s restaurants started in Woodward or Guymon, but saw another one today that said Texas and Oklahoma. Both talked about an extended family, but again, the people who run several of these places deny that.
So this is probably the best chainlet of restaurants in the country, and they serve outstanding Italian food, of consistent high quality, all more-or-less independently. I am surprised that there isn’t a central website listing the local varieties of these places. It’s pretty amazing to me.