Recently I had the opportunity to try Olive Garden’s new menu that was just released. I worked at Olive Garden years ago for a summer while studying for the CPA exam so I am pretty familiar with their old menu (and amazingly I still like to eat at Olive Garden). My husband and I normally gravitate to independent restaurants, but Olive Garden is one of the few chain restaurants that we do like to eat at so we jumped at the opportunity to try the new menu.
One of the local Olive Garden restaurants invited local media representatives to try the new menu items and 11 full courses later, we were full, but very happy. Olive Garden’s new menu is designed to appeal to the evolving palettes and preferences of casual dining guests, while providing guests with more options to customize their meal experience at both lunch and dinner. I loved that the new items were not just the same old dishes that had been revised, but rather were completely new dishes. I could tell that Olive Garden really put themselves out there with this menu revamp and I think patrons will be happy with the new entrees as well as options to customize existing choices.
Out of the 11 courses there wasn’t one that I didn’t like and wouldn’t have ordered myself.
We had a lot of really good appetizers including polenta shrimp, artichoke fritta, risotto balls (pictured) and salad toppers. I loved all of the appetizers, but the risotto balls were AMAZING! The other bloggers and members of the media around me also were raving about them so I think its safe to conclude that they were a crowd favorite. All of the appetizers were easy to share and had great variety.
We tried 6 (!) different entrees that included different pasta and non pasta dishes. I liked that they ventured out to include spicy dishes, dishes with more vegetables and one even had canellini beans in it. Two of the options offered were part of their Lighter Fare entress, meaning that they are under 575 calories. I normally visit an Italian restaurant to have pasta, but I can’t wait to get back to have the Garlic Rosemary Chicken (pictured) again! The chicken was cooked perfectly, the mashed potatoes were creamy and the all for under 575 calories.
We only had one dessert to try, but it was amazing. I normally am very picky about textures and I don’t like anything “mushy,” but the strawberry panna cotta was so good I ate it all and I’m pretty sure my husband licked his bowl.
Overall, I loved the new menu. It provides options so that the menu can meet anyone’s nutritional and dietary needs. I look forward to visiting Olive Garden again with my husband on our next date night.