Oh the chain restaurants! Some people love 'em and some people hate 'em. For me, it depends on the restaurant. But I will tell you, I LOVE Olive Garden! I don't care if it's "fake" Italian food, it tastes pretty good. Some of my favorite items include fettuccine alfredo, the portabello ravioli, the eggplant parmigiana, and of course, their salad. *As a side note, they now sell their salad dressing in grocery stores. I found it recently at Walmart for around $3. A good dressing, not exactly like the restaurant version, but pretty close.*
On a recent visit to the Olive Garden, I tried one of their new dishes off their Tastes and Toasts of Italy menu, the Crispy Risotto Bites. Delish! For $5 we got 6 rice balls. Risotto and cheese are rolled in bread crumbs, fried til crisp, and served on a bed of marinara (with more cheese on top if you choose - and we did!). They had good flavor, were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside as promised. Also off that menu I chose a cocktail, the Moscato Aperol Cocktail - light and refreshing, this is a must try.
Normally I get the fettuccine or the ravioli, but for lunch today I got the eggplant parmigiana. It was a great size portion for lunch, but I was a little surprised the price was comparable to their dinner prices. Disappointing. My companion got their new Italiano Burger. I forgot to take a picture but let me tell you, I had a bite and it was one of the best burgers I've had in a long time. Covered in prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, and marinated tomatoes, and a creamy parmesan garlic aioli... Mmmm mmmm mmm. Get there for lunch, you WANT to have this burger.
They have a multitude of dessert options, my favorite being the Black Tie Mousse Cake. But on this visit I had one of their Dolcinis, little tastes of dessert. I went with the chocolate mousse dolcini. It was good, the perfect size for a small sweet bite. It satisfied my dessert craving without pushing me over the edge. I am a little upset about how high some of their dessert prices have become, I remember when the mousse cake was only $4 and now it's over $7... Just seems a little excessive.
Olive Garden is still one of my favorite chains. I eat their a few times a year, usually when they are running some kind of special, like the Buy One, Take One deal. For $12.99 you got a full size meal there (mine was the asiago fettuccine alfredo - yum) complete with salad or soup and bread sticks, and then an entree to take home (I chose the Five Cheese Ziti al Forno - a new favorite!). That promotion is over, but it was such a great deal, and I hope they bring it back soon.
To learn more about Olive Garden, and to check out their menu and current specials visit Olive Garden