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Daniel

Olive Garden

167 posts in this topic

Olive Garden

2 Times Square, New York, NY 10036

Phone: 212.333.3254

I have been bombarded with Olive Garden commercials.. So funny especially because of the outright stereotypes they portray.. "My cheap deago uncle did something tonight he never did, he opened his wallet" Or all these images of the old world simpleton getting his one birthday wish of remembering the old country by eating here on one of there last birthdays.. The same way they super-imposed Nat King Cole into unforgettable, I feel like they are going to do the Saturday Night Fever dinner scene into an Olive Garden commercial.. I can see Travolta, saying "watch my breadsticks"

I have been to a ton of shitty Italian Restaurants in New York.. I think its time for me to go to an Olive Garden, just so I can see what the measuring stick would be..

From the website:

"Welcome to Olive Garden’s

Culinary Institute of Tuscany.

Olive Garden’s Culinary Institute of Tuscany, located in the heart of Tuscany, Italy in a restored 11th century village, is where Olive Garden’s chefs learn the secrets of great Italian cooking - like how to combine fresh ingredients - to create authentic Italian dishes that you’ll enjoy sharing with your family and friends."

Sounds better then Rocco's to me..

Honestly speaking, its a chain, millions of people have eaten here.. This place keeps growing.. Is it that bad???? I think going here will make me a better person.. I am not going here expecting to like it, but I might be surprised.. At least I can say, I would rather go to the Olive Garden then this so and so..

Does anyone have a list of New York Italian Restaurants that have lost to the Olive Garden..


Edited by Daniel (log)

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... is where Olive Garden’s chefs learn the secrets of great Italian cooking - like how to combine fresh ingredients -

ancient italian secret, hmmm?

the salad is good.

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I wouldn't mind Olive Garden so much if their prices reflected the quality. To me, it's a tiny step up from food court food, and should be a heck of a lot cheap than it is.

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I wouldn't mind Olive Garden so much if their prices reflected the quality. 

But I find that true of most restaurants.


Rice pie is nice.

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Olive Garden really is as bad as everybody says it is. Just about the only palatable items are the salad and breadsticks. It's all downhill from there.

It doesn't have to be this way. Olive Garden, for whatever reason -- presumably market research supports the strategy -- chooses to serve poor-quality, artificial-tasting food that is too sweet, too salty and not good. Chains like Macaroni Grill do a much more respectable job of imitating the standard-issue Little Italy Italian-American restaurant. When traveling, I have no trouble getting a better-than-average meal at Macaroni Grill. But getting a good meal at Olive Garden, even in Times Square, is an impossibility.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Another Olive Garden commercial was "when Momma visits me from Italy, I take her straight to Olive Garden."

Umm...no. Momma would probably backslap me on the head for insulting her by taking her to such a place.

It isn’t a bad place. It just isn’t good. (Then again, I was really tired and hungry when I went there) Daniel, I wouldn't make a special trip there. But if you're in a mall and your dining options are TGIFridays or Pizza Hut, it may be worth a try. Just keep in mind that it is what you said: a chain. Otherwise it ain't worth the trip.


Edited by I_call_the_duck (log)

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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ummmm...i'd rather eat at TGIFridays than Olive Garden. It is that bad. I have to agree with FG on this one and say that Macaroni Grill is about 5 steps up the ladder from Olive Garden.

flaccid noodles, bland and watery sauces, iceberg salad with that scary "italian" dressing...there's really no reason to waste the calories eating there.

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Well, I understand that its most likely not going to be good.. But, I need to know just how terrible its going to be.. You can learn something from everything.. So maybe this will make me appreciate something more or realize something.. I am sure if I offer my friend a free meal he will come with me.. If I can convince him, I will certainly post a review..

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Jonnnie Carraba's and Johnnie Carino's are two chains that surpass Olive Garden. I don't know how widespread they are.


Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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One meal there is useful for cultural literacy. I would just suggest that if you're going to establish a baseline you should try some of the Italian-American chains that aren't so terrible. Macaroni Grill and Maggiano's have done a nice job distilling the Little Italy restaurant into a replicable chain format.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Olive Garden and Buca di Beppo have to be the absolute bottom end of the food chain, so to speak. FG is right about the overly sweetened sauces. There was a Buca di Beppo in the bottom of the complex where I parked my car at my old job. Every single day I had to stomach the smell of what I imagined to be enormous bubbling cauldrons of horrendous sugary tomato sauce cooking away and wafting all over the street. Blech! It still makes me gag every time I'm in that neighborhood. :shudder:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I went to Olive Garden in Times Square a couple of months ago because I wanted to "see what it was all about." And I can tell you that even from my perspective (which is that of a culinary novice, at best) it was truly awful. (Note: I don't eat meat, so I'm very limited in what I can order.) My server's name was Kevin. He should live and be well, but does he have to smile all the time? And talk in the royal "we"? The salad wouldn't have been terrible, despite the iceberg lettuce, if they hadn't put that awful dressing on it; but they had, so it was. I didn't have breadsticks, but they did serve bread; I think it was the worst part of the meal. I don't know how else to describe it except to say it was what I call "fake bread." Puffy and flavorless. I had pizza, and it was simply not memorable. But I remember I didn't eat the crust, because I couldn't (and that's usually my favorite part.) I don't remember what kind of wine I ordered (except that it was a dry red), but I do remember that it tasted like wine that had been left in the bottle overnight. The place was full and everyone was eating heartily and enjoying themselves. I really couldn't understand. I still can't.

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Daniel, I say go, because when you're there...you're family. :biggrin:


Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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maybe they've changed the dressing since my last visit (oh, about 12 years ago, on a lark even back then), but i recall the salads being lightly dressed with what seemed to be no more than oil/vinegar/oregano/s/p. it would be a shame if they've somehow screwed that up with sugar/fat/too-much-salt. although i wouldn't be surpised, as they are in the business of selling sugar and fat and too-much-salt.

i don't recall the greens being iceburg either. i like iceburg.

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And to think that there is a vast spectrum of peole who LOVE the Evil Garden. Where do they reside, on your cul-de-sac and work in your office and their children go to school with your children. For these folks, Olive Garden is what defines Italian. And Olive Garden is a special dining event for lots of them. Is it just that the Evil Garden has spread it's cloak of mediocre food over the land or is the unlimited salads and breadsticks laced with some substance that brainwashes the masses into thinking that there is nothing better? Plus the fact that Olive Garden is just as bad here in Tulsa as it is in Times Square. Or are we just such food snobs that we are the ones who are missing the boat? How does one get to go to this obscure villa in Tuscany? Who is the head of the school there? I have lots of questions and too little time.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.

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from my perspective, most restaurants serve shit food. OG is no different. people seem to like shit food. along with food, people have horrible taste in TV, music, books, film, etc. luckily, my taste is unmatched in everything. this way, i can look down on others, smuggly.

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maybe they've changed the dressing since my last visit (oh, about 12 years ago, on a lark even back then), but i recall the salads being lightly dressed with what seemed to be no more than oil/vinegar/oregano/s/p.  it would be a shame if they've somehow screwed that up with sugar/fat/too-much-salt.  although i wouldn't be surpised, as they are in the business of selling sugar and fat and too-much-salt. 

i don't recall the greens being iceburg either.  i like iceburg.

It was that chemical dressing stuff. Really not nice.

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Poor Olive Garden - crying all the way to the bank!


Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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"Just about the only palatable items are the salad and breadsticks. It's all downhill from there."

I have to disagree with the above statement. The breadsticks are pasty white logs with the only discernable flavor being the salt they sprinkle on top. The salad is a bowl of boring iceberg. I'd rather eat at macaroni grill any day.

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I've only been once, when as a dutiful son I gave my mother the choice of where she wanted to eat while visiting her. I at least voted for a Carabba's, which I have not been to, but thought would have been better, but I was overruled. Regardless of the quality of the food (or lack thereof, which has been covered above), the most objectionable aspect is their implication through their advertising, etc. that their food is the real deal from an Italian point of view, where you'd enjoy and celebrate with your family, and that it represents "authentic" recipes, etc. All of that is far more distasteful than the food.


Mark A. Bauman

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Jonnnie Carraba's and Johnnie Carino's are two chains that surpass Olive Garden.  I don't know how widespread they are.

I don't know. I waited 30 minutes for a table at Johnny Carino's once (because I actually LIKE Chevy's and it's the same company and Johnny's was near the movie theater) and it was horrible. Worst restaurant pasta I've ever had.

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My first and only time at Olive Garden was for a high school birthday party where the birthday girl had raved for days on end about how excited she was to be going to her favorite restaurant...and this is what I remember: dry cardboard chicken, disgustingly sugary/watery "tomato" sauce, spaghetti cooked to the point of mush, and in general either lack of seasoning (no discernable taste to the mushy noodles, either) or overseasoning. Plus, as was mentioned upthread, salad doused in chemical dressing and fake breadsticks.

Seriously, I don't think it's worth spending the money, the calories, or the time to go there. Not even as a sociological(?) exercise. And I'm not that picky about restaurants--I've eaten at my fair share of Bertucci's and Macaroni Grill's and Maggiano's, all of which are fine. (Perhaps you should try one of them as a baseline for American Italian food, as Steven suggested?) But Olive Garden... yuuuuuck.

The advertising doesn't help either.

Y'know, though... now that we've all chimed in and collectively wrinkled our noses (most of the posters, that is) at Olive Garden, maybe we've set your expectations so low that when and if you do go, you'll start thinking "Hey, this isn't as bad as they made it out to be..." Quick! Somebody start reverse psychologizing!

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Not to get off subject....but Fat Guy mentioned the Macaroni Grill. I second his opinion. Their "Penne Rustica" cooked in a wood fired oven is excellent. Then again, what doesnt taste good in a wood fired oven.

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And to think that there is a vast spectrum of peole who LOVE the Evil Garden.  Where do they reside,  on your cul-de-sac and work in your office and their children go to school with your children.

Maybe it's different elsewhere, but here in New York it's really a class thing.

I don't live in a cul-de-sac, but I can assure you that nobody in my building would go to (or at least admit to going to) Olive Garden. And if anybody in my office would, it certainly wouldn't be anyone on the professional staff.

That's not to say that all these people are foodies, much less that they all have equisite taste. Just that they'd have different class-specific bad places to go to.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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