Olive Garden has been in the news lately, and not for good reasons. The company has posted disappointing sales figures for the past year, and is trying to win back customers who are pinching more pennies than ever before.
I’ve always liked Olive Garden a lot for its unlimited soup and the chicken marsala, but the prices have been inching up significantly over the years. Right now the chicken marsala is $15.25. $15.25 for chicken + potatoes + some bell peppers?? No thanks!
Olive Garden started this new promotion on January 23rd: the “3-Course Italian Dinner.” The first course is the usual unlimited soup or salad, the second course is your pick between 5 new entrees, and the third course is dessert. I went to Olive Garden tonight with my parents to check it out!
The first course is no different from before, where you can pick either unlimited soup or unlimited salad. I have actually never been a fan of Olive Garden’s salad, so I always get the soup – today I had one bowl of chicken & gnocchi soup, and one bowl of zuppa toscana (spicy sausage and potatoes). The chicken & gnocchi soup was extremely thick (the waitress later admitted it was the last bowl of the batch) while the zuppa toscana had this weird color that made it a little unappetizing. It looked like there was a ton of oil in it. However, I’ll give them a pass since these soups have been delicious on previous visits.
For the second course, my dad and I ordered the Asiago and Roasted Garlic Tortelloni with Grilled Sausage, described as “tortelloni filled with asiago cheese and roasted garlic tossed in a basil marinara sauce with fresh basil and tomatoes, topped with grilled Italian sausage.”
Honestly, this wasn’t that great. There was barely any Asiago cheese, and so much tomato. My dad also thought the tomatoes tasted a little bit sour. This really just tasted like something I could make at home with the tortellini you buy frozen at the store with some normal pasta sauce on top of it.
My mom got the Five Cheese Marinara Penne with Shrimp, which is “sauteed shrimp in a five cheese marinara sauce served over penne and topped with mozzarella and seasoned breadcrumbs.”
This was actually pretty good as the sauce was tasty but not too powerful, and you also had little pieces of shrimp. I think my dad and I picked wrong, since some reviews online say that the Smoked Mozzarella Chicken is very good.
Dessert came on this cute display with three little cups, and I do mean little. But it’s a good size for after you’ve stuffed yourself with soup, breadsticks, and an entree. I got the Amaretto Tiramisu, which I enjoyed, but I wish there was more crust at the bottom. It was a good flavor to end with, and it wasn’t too sweet. My dad’s dark chocolate cake was pretty sweet and syrupy though, but still good. My mom’s strawberry cream cake was good, I liked the white chocolate shavings on top but I didn’t really like the strawberry part. But I like just fresh strawberries, not strawberries with a sweet sauce on top like this.
Overall, I’d say this is a promotion worth checking out, but I probably won’t be going back for it. I still love Olive Garden though, but I think the lunchtime unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks is definitely the best bang for your buck. They still have that, right?!