Menu Tasting at Olive Garden #Atlanta

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The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

All photos belong to Jumpin Beans Blog. 

The other day I got an email asking me to come and taste a few of the delicious creations that Olive Garden has to offer.  Of course, I was not going to turn that down... Just a few reasons as to why I just "had" to say yes :)
One reason - it was in my old stomping grounds and (hate to admit it) the last time I had actually visited that location, I was pregnant with Broxton and a dear friend and I went there for lunch one day!
Second reason- I love Olive Garden.
Third reason- We recently (within the last year or so) had the first Olive Garden location open up in my hometown... So, I thought it would be great to try out their dishes that I might not otherwise order, then I could give feedback - not only to them, but also to family and friends!
That Oh - So - Familiar sign from many years ago!   As soon as I knew that was the location, memories started floating back!  Himee, I am talking about you girlie!  

The night came and off we went... Did I mention we tried eleven (YES- ELEVEN - 11 different things?!)  We tried everything from appetizers to entrees and of course we got to taste an awesome dessert too!  
We were given the option to try beverages as well... Above is the Sangarita.
This is "the best of a margarita and sangrita!"  (Tequila, Wine, Fresh Fruit and Fruit Juice!)  They are not stingy when it comes to this drink, as it was a great size to last you throughout your whole meal!  
For a non-alcoholic beverage, what is better than their Strawberry- Passion Fruit Limonata?
This is lemonade, sparkling water, strawberries and passion fruit.  Personal tip -- as it sits there, give it a good stir before drinking, if not, you might end up with a bit more of the sparkling water without so much of the flavor over time. It was great and a very refreshing drink!  For sure a summer patio beverage of choice!  

 Although summer is slowly winding down, we were still given a few of their Italian Summer menu items to check out.  There is such a wide variety and I am so glad that I sampled things that might not otherwise be ordered from me.
Did I tell you I had the cutest dinner date there?  Yes!   My date for the evening!   
 As we were seated, we were warned not to fill up on breadsticks, as there were plenty of dishes headed our way.  Of course you are at Olive Garden, so you HAVE to have at least ONE breadstick and a little salad... That is a given!

 Now --- On to the food tasting!

Crispy Risotto Bites (“Small Plates”) – 
Bite-sized blend of Italian cheeses and rice, lightly fried and served in marinara sauce.

I thought these were delicious and will for sure be ordered on future visits to Olive Garden!  Loved them! 

Artichoke Fritti (appetizer) –
 Marinated artichoke hearts, lightly battered and fried. Served with a five cheese marinara dipping sauce.

This was pretty good, but I could not honestly see myself ordering this as an appetizer again.  I would like 1 or 2 of them, maybe as an accent to a dish... but if it is just Marc and I dining out, I see more being left over than eaten.  Don't get me wrong, they were good.. but I am just not a huge artichoke fan. 
 Polenta Shrimp alla Greca (“Small Plates”) –
Sautéed shrimp served on creamy polenta and topped with a fresh blend of olives, capers and tomato sauce.
With this dish, I personally would never order it.. because of the "olive" in the description.  Now, I am glad that I did try it out.. Since it was very tasty and to be honest, I did not taste any olive flavor,although I did push a couple olives to the side to enjoy the dish.  
 
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper – 
Fresh mozzarella bites, roasted tomato, bell pepper, basil, kale and an extra-virgin olive oil drizzle.

 No trip to Olive Garden is complete without their salad.  I absolutely LOVE it and now, they have kicked it up a notch!  You can add a "salad topper" to it for a small price. .  

Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich – 
Smashed chicken meatballs with roasted bell peppers and mozzarella on a focaccia bun. 

I really enjoyed this, but there was a bit of a kick in the spice area.  It wasn't overwhelming to the point that I did not enjoy, but it did surprise me a bit!  
Bucatini with Spicy Diavolo Sauce and Sausage Meatballs – part of Cucina Mia:Choose your pasta: New Large Paccheri, New Tri-Colored Vegetable Penne, Bucatini, New Cavatappi, Whole Wheat Linguine, New Gluten-Free RotiniChoose your made-from-scratch sauce:  New Creamy Garlic Alfredo, New Primavera, New Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato, New Spicy Diavolo, Fresh Tomato PomodoroAdd a topping (additional cost): New Chicken Meatballs, New Sausage Meatballs, Meatballs, Sautéed Shrimp
Up next was supposed to be the Bucatini with a special sauce and meatballs... Since I was not a fan of the spicy and neither was Broxton, they actually changed our sauce and both of us really enjoyed it.  (Broxton enjoyed it the next day for dinner, as he requested it and was happy to have leftovers!)  
 Garlic Rosemary Chicken 
Grilled marinated chicken breast topped with rosemary and caramelized garlic cloves. Served with garlic parmesan mashed potatoes and fresh spinach.
This was not a favorite of mine.  It was good and I enjoyed it, but I guess I was looking for more to it.  I thought Broxton might enjoy it, but he was not a fan of the gravy on the mashed potatoes.  If we were to order it again, I would ask for the gravy on the side.  The chicken was juicy and with 2 chicken breasts, it is a great option - but just didn't go with my tastebuds for a meal at Olive Garden that night.  
 Lasagna Fresca –
 Hand folded vegetable lasagna, sautéed shrimp and grilled tomatoes with sundried tomato sauce.
I absolutely LOVED this dish.  The lasagna filled with veggies- amazing.  The sun dried tomato sauce?  Outstanding!  This is a seasonal dish and that makes me sad, but I was told that this sauce is always available, so I will for sure be ordering it next visit.  

Chicken Abruzzi (Olive Garden Specialty, Lighter Italian Fare [under 575 calories]) 
Grilled chicken breast in a savory broth simmered with cannellini beans, kale and garden vegetables.
Oh My Word --- I almost fell out when this dish arrived... This is not "just soup" it is a MEAL (and UNDER 575 calories!)  It was amazing!  The beans, kale and veggies make it a great healthy (and hearty) alternative... Throw chicken in there and meat-lovers are happy too! The portion of this soup will shock you all!  
Pappardelle Pescatore (Olive Garden Specialty) –   Sautéed shrimp, bay scallops and clams tossed with pappardelle pasta, fresh asparagus and tomatoes in a creamy red pepper seafood sauce.
This was a great one for me to tell Marc and my brother about... Since they would love the scallops and clams... I just am not a fan of it... I actually loved the flavor and enjoyed the asparagus and shrimp!  Cute side note, Broxton was really concerned that they served us shells..  Ha ha ha ...   He was just not understanding that at all!   
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberries (dessert) – 
Sweet summer strawberries top a rich and creamy vanilla custard inspired by Italy’s mountainous Piedmont region.
To end the night with this dessert was the best!  I normally would go for something different, but after eating this... I know how great it is and will for sure add it to my orders in the future!  

I am very appreciative of the invitation sent for me to come and check this out...  We had a great time and really enjoyed the evening!  If you are trying to decide where to go, make sure you see how close you are to an Olive Garden!  There are plenty of options there to make everyone happy!  

Comments

  1. I love that place. It was the place I'd pick to go every year for my birthday. Now of course I have issues with gluten and dairy. I'd make an exception to eat there though.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, I can't believe the spread you had! See, I'm a super spicy fan so I'd be all over the spicy diavolo sauce! There's a ton here I'd love to try and that salad topper add-on is genius.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You did get a nice layout, and you do have a cute date. ;) Olive Garden is one of my faves. I always leave there happy. :)

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