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Little Italy in the Desert

For dining in or take-out, Spaghetti Western serves up fare Mama would be proud of.


Those who have yet to visit Silver City's Spaghetti Western are missing some of the best Italian food to be found this side of Little Italy. And even long-time fans of the three-year-old restaurant are likely to be delighted anew by the establishment's latest incarnation as a lunch destination and Italian market, with family-style dinners served Saturday nights.

Jake Politte, chef-owner of Spaghetti Western, stands outside his restaurant on Texas Street.

Chef-owner Jake Politte takes pride in procuring meats, olives, cheeses and more, direct fromMama Italia, to stock his own little salumi. Imported pastas fill the shelves lining one wall.

And the mercato fridge is stocked daily with boxed dinners and pints or quarts of made-from-scratch sauces, so locals who develop a hankering for Politte's lasagna or chicken parmigiana mid-week—or who can't get a Saturday-night reservation—are not left comfortless.

Pick up the weekly menu or call ahead to see what's in the fridge, and pick up dinner on the way home from work. Entrees range from $10-$13, and include salad and dessert—such as tiramisu, key lime pie and dulce de leche by the slice. Other baked treats, like flatbreads and biscotti, vary daily.

Lunch offerings include grilled panini sandwiches, antipasti salads, pastas, soup and cold deli sandwiches. The Spaghetti Western Hoagie ($7.95) is loaded with seven different sliced imported meats, fresh mozzarella, red onion, tomato, roasted red pepper and lettuce, piled high on crusty Italian bread and generously dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. With such a lunch, you won't need much for dinner that night!

Saturday-night dinner is by reservation only and served "family-style," the diners gathered around two long tables down the center of the restaurant. This is a setting for folks who want to share good conversation and great food in an intimate, traditional Italian manner of dining.

After greeting each other and choosing seats, diners are served a series of courses developing a taste theme—seafood, say, or chicken or beef—for a fixed price between $20-$25 per person—including appetizers through dessert.

As if the aromas wafting from the kitchen aren't enough to stimulate the appetite, Politte's first courses entice mightily. One recent dinner started with braesola, imported air-dried beef sliced paper thin, which the chef had crimped into clusters resembling dark red roses, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with shaved parmesan cheese. A seafood-themed dinner began with fritelle dei fruitti di mare, lightly battered clumps of scallops, shrimp, tilapia and red peppers with herbs.

Meaty green olives, in special ceramic servers, and plates of chewy, warm flatbread, fresh from Politte's oven—are passed from end to end of the table, along with the featured appetizers.

Less is more when it comes to the salad course: mixed baby greens topped with a sprinkling of chopped fresh tomatoes, minimally dressed. More warm bread is passed for those who wish to swab up the last bit of dressing from their salad plates, or who simply can't get enough of the bread.

Entrees arrive on heaping platters, always a little more than one generous portion per guest, just in case someone at the table can somehow manage seconds. In saltimboca pollo, the chicken breasts are pounded thin, then wrapped with slightly salty prosciutto negroni, and finished with a light white wine and herb sauce. Another main, the mahi-mahi in parchment, is flavored with fresh fennel, julienne carrots, a touch of onion and citrus, and finished with barely a blessing of olive oil.

Side dishes are no second-class citizens—spaghettini with lemon-herb sauce, perhaps, or the best creamy mushroom orzo anyone at the table had tasted. One diner passed nearly half her chicken to her husband, saving room for a second helping of the tender rice-like pasta.

The en familia dinners at Spaghetti Western always end on a sweet note. Dessert may be torte de limone, chocolaty dulce de leche or tiramisu, the quintessential dessert Italiano.

There's also sweetness in the air. Over the course of the leisurely meal, the distance from one end of the long tables to the other has melted. Along with groans of appreciation for the food, people who may have walked in as strangers have shared jokes and conversations.

Better book now if you want to get in next week!

—Donna Clayton Lawder

Spaghetti Western Mercato Deli Italiani: Market and deli, Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., with comestibles and boxed dinners to go. Lunch, Tues.-Sat., 11-2; counter pick-up only on Wednesday. Family-style dinner, Sat., 6:30 p.m., by reservation only. 106 N. Texas Street, 534-4999.


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