The Hungry Italian's stance on "chain-restaurants" is three-fold. #1, chain-restaurants are unfairly villainized d for they too have local employees, purchase regionally and many times local franchise ownership. #2, in turn local restaurants are given deity status because of the wrongful assumptions of #2. #3, some chains absolutely are better than a local place but the opposite can also be true.
Basically, if you're a local restaurant taking shots at a chain, it's best to look in the mirror.
No chain restaurant in the area gets as much pot shots taken at it than the Olive Garden. Still, with a decades long presence in the area and a steady stream of customers the place has a strong local following.
Ordered: Seafood Alfredo
Price: $48 when paired with second entree, soft drinks and tip
Entrée: As the name suggests, Italian is this person's top choice of fare and this reviewer has no problem saying Olive Garden is a solid take on our Americanized version's of Italian dishes. Is this place a top of the line place? Absolutely not, but it's too Italian what T.G.I.F Friday's was to the bar & grill. Solid, dependable, consistent across the board from food, to service to decor.
The knock on this place is the saltiness of the meals and it's noticeable. Italian dishes aren't particularly salty, but here they are. It's not done by accident, as 'seasoning' makes the meal more palatable and craveable for more people.
Our local Olive Garden has been hit by the pandemic like everywhere else. Entering a little after 5pm on a Sunday, the restaurant was half full physically but in reality was already at it's breaking point due to low server numbers. A couple just in front was immediately seated but the Hungry Italian has his guest had to wait five minutes.
By the time we left an hour later, there were no less than 15 people waiting in the lobby and again, the restaurant was at best half being used.
Its because of all of this, the Hungry Italian is quick to not knock the little things a server may do wrong. If it's bad to note, we will. On this night, other than the server having a "low talking voice" there were no issues. Service was prompt.
The salad and breadsticks are no different than they have been for years. As once gulps done plates of salad drenched in that special dressing, we fool ourselves into thinking it's healthy when we know it isn't.
The dinner selected was a seafood alfredo. A plate of noodles, covered in white sauce with shrimp and scallops. This was very good. The alfredo sauce was very much on point, with a moderate garlic flavor and outstanding mouth feel. Sometimes alfredo can have a grainy texture or be overpowering with salt but that wasn't the case here and it's important as the sauce is the main flavor driver in a dish like this.
The shrimp and scallops were tender but they are mostly as things to switch up the texture of the dish.
Second Helping? Absolutely! The Olive Garden gets regular visits and also has it's carry-out option used many times by this person.
Final Score: 4 out of 5 cheese curds