Olive Garden Revamps Menu, Invites Food Snobs To Come Whine About It

Olive Garden has never pretended to be a center of fancy cuisine or healthy eating. Its selling point isthe quantities of food available, including and especially breadsticks coated with garlic salt. Olive Garden is currently trying to rebrand itself, introducing a new logo and adding new ideas to the menu, like burgers and tapas. Is that enough to impress food snobs? Of course not. It’s Olive Garden.

Investor Starboard Value criticized many things about the O.G., from its failure to boil water with pasta to its over-generous breadstick baskets. The company does need to do better, but can the restaurant succeed? Of course: this is America. All you need to do is deep-fry as many vegetables as possible and slather cheese on every surface.

At least, that’s the impression we get from a review of the new menu preview. Either it was a terrible idea for Olive Garden to invite local food bloggers in Detroit to a tasting event for its new menu, or the chain knew exactly what it was doing. Either way, what we’ve learned is that Olive Garden is not holding back on the cream sauces, that they do sad and terrible things to innocent meat and seafood, and that their food has a vague relationship to the true nature of Italian food. This new menu should be a hit.

The invitation to bloggers said that “Olive Garden recently unveiled the most significant menu revolution in the restaurant’s history,” which sounds promising. The problem, of course, is that people who have food blogs tend to be people who sneer at Olive Garden’s entire approach to food. That’s why this Metro Times review of the chain’s tasting menu almost sounds like a commercial, if you are a person who likes Olive Garden’s particular approach to Italian food. Maybe you are not fussy about your risotto, and piling tomato sauce on salmon and calling it “bruschetta” sounds appealing. It might be. However, reviewer Michael Jackman wonders where this idea came from, since it was definitely not Italy.

The menu says the dish was “inspired by journeys through Italy.” If so, the journey must have been at very high speed and on powerful hallucinogens, and does through airspace count as through?

Maybe it was a journey through Italy where the only word that the traveler could say in Italian was “formaggio,” resulting in a very strange reflection of Italian cuisine.

We went and tried Olive Garden’s ‘new’ menu so you don’t have to [Metro Times]