Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rethinking Olive Garden: Menu Tasting & Brand Updates

We were invited with other local media and bloggers to join our area Olive Garden for a menu tasting and celebration of their many great changes! The interior has been renovated and looks so modern and updated. New logo, new look and new menu items! Definitely a fresh new look, feel and taste that doesn't take away at all from what everyone already loves about Olive Garden. Just makes it even more enticing and exciting! Don't you love it when change makes a good thing even better??

Let's talk a bit about the changes:

Olive Garden's Menu Evolution 

Last year, Olive Garden unveiled the most significant menu evolution in the restaurant’s history, adding more than 20 new menu items that broaden the choice, variety and value it offers guests, prepared with new cooking techniques that accentuate new flavors. Olive Garden’s new menu is designed to appeal to the evolving palettes and preferences of casual dining guests, while providing guests with more options to customize their meal experience at both lunch and dinner.

Fresh ingredients used in their menu items - fresh mozzarella bites, lemon, yum!

Remodels of Indiana Locations
Additionally, Olive Garden has completed the remodel of its Greenwood, Muncie, Anderson, Kokomo, Castleton Square Mall and East Washington (Indiana) locations. The restaurants now features a more open, vibrant and up-to-date design, with new artwork, fabrics and materials, lighting, seating, countertops and flooring, as well as a stacked-stone entry tower displaying the new “Olive Garden Italian Kitchen” logo sign.

Menu Tasting Checklist from the event we attended

Let's take a Look at the New Dishes!

  • Crispy Risotto Bites (appetizer) - A bite-sized blend of Italian cheeses and rice, lightly fried and served with marinara sauce.
  • Artichoke Fritti (appetizer, coming soon on 1/19) - Artichoke hearts lightly battered and fried, topped with Italian cheeses. Served with citrus aioli dipping sauce.
Wings at Olive Garden?! Woah!
  • Spicy Calabrian Wings (appetizer) - Chicken wings tossed with garlic and chili peppers from the Italian region of Calabria, served with gorgonzola dipping sauce.

  • Mediterranean Flatbread (appetizer, coming soon on 1/19) - Basil pesto and olive oil, topped with a blend of four Italian cheeses, artichoke hearts, olives, capers, roasted red peppers and garlic.
  • Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper (salad) - Fresh mozzarella bites, roasted tomato, bell pepper, basil, kale and an extra-virgin olive oil drizzle.
  • Salmon Bruschetta (entree) - Grilled filet topped with fresh tomatoes and basil pesto. Served on seafood risotto with sautéed shrimp.
  • Citrus Chicken Sorrento (entree, Lighter Italian Fare, under 575 calories) - Tender, grilled chicken breasts in a citrus honey glaze, inspired by the Italian city of Sorrento, famous for its lemon groves. Served with lightly seasoned broccoli, artichokes and roasted vegetables.
  • Northern Tour of Italy (entree) - Asiago tortelloni with meat sauce, Chicken Lombardy and fettuccine with creamy parmesan portobello sauce. 
    • Last year, Olive Garden turned to fans to crowd source the next Tour of Italy dish. Fans have spoken - and you tried the winner. Inspired by Olive Garden's chef Flavio Tagliaferro and a twist on the classic Tour of Italy, this dish features ingredients and flavors of the region of Italy where Chef Flavio grew up. 
  • Bucatini with Spicy Three Meat Sauce - part of Cucina Mia:
    • Choose your pasta: Bucatini, Cavatappi, Tri-Colored Vegetable Penne, Giant Rigatoni, Whole Wheat Linguine, Gluten-Free Rotini
    • Choose your made-from-scratch sauce: Five Cheese Marinara, Spicy Three Meat, Asiago Garlic Alfredo, Creamy Bacon & Sun-Dried Tomato, Primavera
    • Add a topping (additional cost): Meatballs, Italian Sausage, Chicken Meatballs, Grilled Chicken, Sautéed Shrimp. 
  • Pappardelle Pescatore (entree) - A traditional, coastal Italian dish with sautéed shrimp, bay scallops and clams tossed in a creamy, red pepper seafood sauce. Served with fresh asparagus, tomatoes and pappardelle pasta.
  • Apple Tuscan Bread Pudding (seasonal dessert) - Warm, rustic Italian bread pudding baked with York Imperial apples, then topped with caramel and rich vanilla cream.
Long Island Limoncello

Food isn't the only new items on the menu. There are a few tasty new drinks as well. We tried the amazing Long Island Limoncello and new Sangarita!

Many thanks to the Greenwood Olive Garden for having us - was a great experience - wonderful service and staff!

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