The Amador Shopping Plaza sends e-mail messages full of coupons to people on its mailing list every week or two. These coupons are from many of the businesses that populate that shopping center anchored by Save Mart on Highway 88 in Martell. The e-mail I received last week included a $5.00 takeout coupon from Strings Italian Café, so my mother and I took them up on their offer.
Strings is a local chain of Italian restaurants that got its start with one restaurant on Madison Avenue, and I enjoyed eating lunch and dinner at that restaurant with friends and family over the years. Sharon Cassella, the former owner of JB’s Awards and Engraving on Main Street in Jackson, opened the Martell Strings in 2007 and it’s enjoyed a strong following ever since.
My mother and I last ate at Strings on New Year’s Day 2020, so it was about time we went back. Strings has a Facebook page, and their staff regularly monitors the page for new messages, so I sent them a message using Facebook Messenger about the takeout process. Luke got back to me in a few minutes and told me how we should order.
Around 5:45 p.m. on June 18, my mother called and ordered our meals. I ordered Zoodles with minestrone soup, and my mother ordered shrimp scampi. They said our meals would be ready in 10 to 15 minutes, but I didn’t get there until 6:30 p.m.
When I entered the restaurant, there were a few people sitting at safe distances, but the restaurant was far emptier than usual. Our food was still ready to go in metal dishes with cardboard tops or in Styrofoam containers with lids, so they were still warm when I got home.
“Zoodles” was a hot trend a few years ago, and some Italian chains like Strings and Olive Garden still serve the dish. The term zoodles means what you suspect: green and yellow zucchini cut into long ribbons to make them look like noodles.
Strings’ Zoodles Vegetale dish has zucchini ribbons tossed with onions, garlic, tomatoes (roasted and sun-dried), artichoke hearts, olives, capers, and basil. You can order the dish with chicken, seafood, sausage, or meatballs for an extra charge, but I was only interested in the standard dish.
Takeout meals have the same options as meals in the restaurant. That is, you have your choice of minestrone soup or salad. In the restaurant, you get a sliced, oval-shaped loaf of French bread. With takeout orders, you get a loaf of unsliced bread for each person in your order.
The soup was good as always, with large chunks of vegetables including zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, celery, pasta shells, and basil in a light broth. The bread itself had a thin, crispy shell with melted butter and garlic on top. There’s a lot of light and spongy dough in the center, so you may want to eat smaller bites to make sure all the bread goes down.
The shrimp scampi dinner has shrimp sauteed with garlic, lemon juice, wine sauce, and butter on top of angel hair pasta. On the side, you get some spaghetti with marinara sauce, assorted vegetables including zucchini, broccoli, and tomatoes, as well as a slice of lemon if you want your shrimp to have a tangier taste. You can also purchase shrimp scampi without the spaghetti and vegetables if you want a lighter meal.
The dinner itself was more than enough for my mother. She couldn’t eat it all and enjoyed it for lunch the following three days, which she could do because the metal containers kept her food fresh in the refrigerator.
When we eat at Strings, we usually get their desserts, but we decided to have a less expensive lemon cake square from Raley’s for our take-out meal.
The Zoodles Vegetale was very good, and one ingredient didn’t overwhelm all the other flavors, so I had a different taste experience with every bite. However, be aware that zucchini ribbons are crunchier than noodles, so you may find your jaw is a little sore by the time you finish the meal.
My mother had a hard time deciding if the minestrone soup at Strings or Teresa’s Place is better, but she declared that the shrimp scampi was the best she’s had.
Thumbs up from both of us.
Strings didn’t take off our $5.00 initially, but when I showed the coupon on my iPhone, the host at the front counter applied the discount right away.
The price for our meal was about $33 that included a tip, which they deserved for making the takeout process easy.
Want to Try Them?
You can eat at Strings for lunch or dinner, order takeout by phone, or have a meal delivered to you with DoorDash. Visit the Strings website to review their latest menu, visit their Facebook page for the latest news, and/or call them at 209-223-7874.
Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.