Olive Garden recently announced their most significant menu evolution since the restaurant’s opening and we got to check it all out! This new menu was created to appeal to guests’ evolving palettes, while also offering more customized options for both lunch and dinner. What we ended up experiencing was the most mouth-watering experience we’ve ever had at Olive Garden.
When we got there, we were told a 5-10 minute wait. Not bad for a Saturday evening at the start of dinner traffic. We let Skibbles run around and took in the light Italian atmosphere. Part of me believes that the ovens that cook the breadsticks are hooked up to the air vents, but the warm aroma of carbs instantly took over my senses and I think I began to drool a bit. Skibbles trying to pull down all the menus from the hostesses’ podium quickly brought me back to reality.
We were seated and we quickly discussed what we wanted to eat. I had already looked at the menu ahead of arriving (I always do this to speed things up) and Andrew glanced over the menu while we were waiting to be seated. We both discussed how great all of the new menu options sounded and how it was so difficult to just pick one thing. So we decided to live dangerously and order all that we wanted. After all, this doesn’t happen often.
We started with the appetizers. On the middle plate below was called Lasagna Fritta. Andrew is pretty obsessed with anything mentioning lasagna so we went for it. It’s Parmesan-breaded pieces of lasagna that have been friend, then served over warm, alfredo sauce, and then a drizzle of marinara and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. It melted in our mouth with the slightest crunch of amazingness.
With their new menu, Olive Garden added “Small Plates”. Eight, delicious samplings of some amazing dishes for those guests that like to try a bunch of different things or just don’t have a huge appetite and want something smaller. Each small plate is between $4-6! We ordered the Chicken Meatballs and Tortellini al Forno.
The Chicken Meatballs are seasoned with herbs and a small hint of red pepper, Italian cheeses, and a zesty marinara. We both loved these. They gave a huge flavor burst on your palate with a hint of spice at the end. It was a bit spicy for Skibbles, though we didn’t think it was bad.
The Tortellini al Forno is cheese and prosciutto-filled tortellini on top of a parmesan cream sauce, and then topped with crumbled bacon pieces. This was hands down one of the best starter meals I’ve had in a long time. Andrew and I actually split the last one in half because we both wanted it. Skibbles ate three of them by herself. Yes, they were that good. With the slight crunchy of the savory bacon in the warm, creamy sauce sauce, your taste buds will be dancing with this one.
Other small plates are: Polenta Shrimp alla Greca, Parmesan Olive Fritta, Tuscan White Bean Hummus, Crispy Risotto Balls, Grilled Chicken Spiedini, Crispy Parmesan Asparagus, and Roasted Parmesan Asparagus.
You haven’t made a trip to Olive Garden without enjoying the breadsticks and salad. It’s a great staple and always one of our favorite ways to kick off our meal. Now that we travel with a toddler I’m even more thankful for it. She was in love with the breadsticks and the croutons from the salad, yes, a carb baby. But we all know without these, she would have gotten very antsy, very quickly. The worst part about this whole night was that I was completely enthralled with our new menu choices that I forgot to try any soup! I love Olive Garden soup!
Finally, it was dinner time. Like I mentioned before, we just couldn’t decide what to get for dinner, so we got a variety. We ordered pasta off the new Cucina Mia Menu for Skibbles, I ordered the Crabbed Topped Chicken, and Andrew ordered the Parmesan Crusted Filet, as well as the Baked Tilapia with Shrimp from the Lighter Fare Menu.
The crab topped chicken is pan seared chicken breasts topped with crab meat on top of a lemon cream sauce. It’s served with fresh spinach and garlic parmesan mashed potatoes. I seriously think I have consumed 85% of my dinner before Andrew could finish slicing his filet. It was amazing. Often times, I go to restaurants and the chicken if tough, but my dinner this night just melted in my mouth. It was so soft. The lemon cream sauce had just the right about of acidity to make the crab shine all over my taste buds!
Andrew gets filet whenever we go out. Since it’s not often, it’s like his special little treat. He decided that this should be no different. He was thrilled to see Olive Garden add a Parmesan Crusted Filet option to their dinner menu. We asked for it to be cooked medium and it was cooked to perfection. This 6oz beauty is topped with a creamy Parmesan-alfredo crust and served alongside sautéed Italian vegetables and roasted garlic. He actually ate the entire steak without steak sauce, which is not like him. He said that it was unnecessary because the juiciness from the steak along with the already sauce was the absolutely perfect balance.
The Baked Tilapia with Shrimp is an oven-baked white fish and shrimp that’s on top off a white wine sauce and served alongside garlic broccoli. The new creation is from Olive Garden’s Lighter Italian Fare menu where all dishes have under 575-calories. It was flaky and light, cooked to perfection, and
For Skibbles, we ordered off the new Cucina Mia Menu. I love having the ability to mix, match, and create our own menu. It’s just $9.99 every day and is more than filling portion size. There are six pastas to choose from, including a gluten-free option, as well as five made-from-scratch sauces and four meat topping options. The meat options do add a small additional cost. We went with the Tri-Colored Vegetable Penne and the Primavera sauce. Skibbles literally slurped it up. I tried it and agreed, it was amazing. The marinara sauce has chunks of zucchini, peppers, onions, and tomatoes, and was cooked perfectly.
Don’t worry, we didn’t forget dessert. We were just so full from the amazing food in the restaurant, that we asked to take it home. Andrew being obsessed with all things chocolate, went with the Black Tie Mousse Cake (in the background of the pic above). However, my mouth watered when I saw the picture for the New Wild Berry Layer Cake. I was even more impressed when we got home and I opened the box and the dessert literally looked just like the picture in the menu.
It was one of the most amazing desserts, I’ve had in forever. Shredded white chocolate and mixed berries top layers of moist vanilla cake with a luscious Italian cream frosting. You will wake up wanting more in the more, trust me, I did. This is just for a limited time only, so make sure you go get some!
Photo credit: Olive Garden
Here’s some more highlights about the new menu directly from Olive Garden
· Sandwich & Flatbread Combinations: Giving guests more handheld options with sandwich and flatbread combinations served with unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks.