My best friend Lauren now lives in Colorado - Praise the Lord!! This means that we have a new tradition of having "Date Night" or Girls Night once a month. This is a night that just the two of us plan and we get to hang out like we are teenagers again! So fun!
Our November Date Night was a complementary new menu tasting event at our local Olive Garden. When my rep, Samantha told me to come hungry, she wasn't kidding. I have always been a fan of visiting Olive Garden but like most people I found my favorite dish and haven't branched out. Well the evening of our tasting both Lauren and I branched out and had a fantastic time tasting the new menu that was released earlier in 2014. This was the most significant menu evolution in the restaurant’s history.
I hope you aren't hungry because you are going to see some Yummy dishes that you will be craving soon! Ready?
If you followed me on instagram you have already drooled on your phone. This was the menu that we got to enjoy! YUM! So many of the dishes are things I would have never thought to explore or try but now I have a few new favorites that I cannot wait to enjoy again soon.
My review: OH!! These!! Perfect! I was worried that they would be really heavy and feel too deep friend but these were so light and yummy! Not too cheesy either. I wanted more of these bites for sure. This would be a perfect app to share!
Polenta Shrimp alla Greca (“Small Plates”) – Sautéed shrimp served on creamy polenta and topped with a fresh blend of olives, capers and tomato sauce.
My review: I am a shrimp lover but most of the time I like it fried but these sauteed shrimps were cooked to perfection and with the polenta it was a dish that could be the perfect alternative to a salad. The polenta had such a great flavor.
Garlic Rosemary Chicken – Grilled marinated chicken breast topped with rosemary and caramelized garlic cloves. Served with garlic parmesan mashed potatoes and fresh spinach.
My review: Well when they brought this plate out and told us it was part of the lighter fair menu I was floored! How was this large plate of yummy chicken and MASHED POTATOES under 575 calories? Now, I wouldn't normally pick chicken and potatoes at Olive Garden BUT if I was in my "focused" stage of counting calories, this would be the dish I would order. The potatoes were amazing and the chicken was perfectly seasoned. This was one of my favorite meals.
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper – Fresh mozzarella bites, roasted tomato, bell pepper, basil, kale and an extra-virgin olive oil drizzle.
Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich – Smashed chicken meatballs with roasted bell peppers and mozzarella on a focaccia bun.
My review: While I adore meatball sandwiches, this wasn't my favorite sandwich. I felt like it was a bit heavy and hard to eat on the focaccia bun. The chicken meatball was interesting. While I was tasting this sandwich I kept thinking about how much Jeremy would have enjoyed it. It smelled and looked wonderful, just not my favorite dish.
Bucatini with Spicy Three Meat 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 Rotini
Choose your made-from-scratch sauce: New Creamy Garlic Alfredo, New Primavera, New Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato, New Spicy Diavolo, Fresh Tomato Pomodoro
Add a topping (additional cost): New Chicken Meatballs, New Sausage Meatballs, Meatballs, Sautéed Shrimp
My review: Well, I am a big baby and this was too spicy for me. However the meatball I tried was soooo good!! Oh and this was my first time trying the Bucatini pasta. Now when I make spaghetti I will be buying Bucatini! It holds the sauce so well and was a really great pasta.
My review: I am a big fan of the traditional Olive Garden salad but when I tried this Salad topper I was in love. Kale is trending and I like it! The Mozzarella bites made this salad though, so fresh and perfect! I would love to add this topper if I visited Olive Garden during lunch. Yum!!
Chicken Abruzzi – Grilled chicken breast in a savory broth simmered with cannellini beans, kale and garden vegetables.
My review: Remember how I told you I was going to branch out and try new things. Well this was new to me. I had no idea what it was. it was interesting and had some great flavors. Again, this was on the lighter fare menu. Great option. The broth was really great when I added some lemon juice. It made the dish. The kale was the part that I didn't like but the veggies, broth and chicken was really good.
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.
My review: I cannot give a great review on this dish because I couldn't try it all. I did try the shrimp, asparagus and pasta and those all tasted great. This is a dish that is an Olive Garden specialty so if you are more daring that me - try it!
Grilled Chicken Butternut Squash Alfredo Futteccine – Grilled chicken breasts served on a bed of fettuccine tossed with creamy roasted butternut squash alfredo and fresh spinach.
My review: This dish was by far my favorite! This speaks FALL to me. The butternut squash sauce was sweet and smelled like apples! The chicken was fantastic. I told Jeremy that we had to go to Olive Garden soon because I wanted it again! This is a seasonal special so PLEASE you must go and try this! Delicious!
Pumpkin Cheesecake – Pumpkin Cheesecake is topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce and ginger cookie crumbles.
My review: Well we came to an end. We were stuffed and happy but we had to try this amazing piece of cheesecake. It was the perfect end to our feast. The pumpkin wasn't overpowering. Also, if you order this - you can share it! It is HUGE!! Nom!!!
What a fun evening! We had to roll out of the restaurant but it was so worth it. Next date night we might just have drinks and salad! ha!!
The new menu is designed to appeal to the evolving palettes and preferences of the casual dining guests, while providing you with more options to customize your meal experience at both lunch and dinner.
Some New Menu Highlights
“Cucina Mia” Section: Introducing a new menu section that gives guests the ability to create their own entrée from a variety of six pastas and five made-from-scratch sauces—for only $9.99 every day.
Small Plates: Expanding the Tastes of Italy section to include eight small plate dishes for guests who want to explore different flavors.
Lighter Italian Fare: Enhancing variety within the under-575-calories menu section by introducing additional dishes for calorie-counting guests.
Specialty Entrees: Bringing new culinary-forward entrees to the chicken and seafood sections of the menu, enhanced by preparation on a new Piastra flat-top grill for a more evenly cooked, tender and juicy taste.
Salad Toppers: Creating new ways for guests to enjoy Olive Garden’s popular signature salad through the addition of antipasti or caprese toppings.
Giveaway time - just in time for the holidays!!
Now that you are craving some of these fabulous dishes why don't you try to win an Olive Garden gift card!? Thank you to the Olive Garden for a wonderful night and for offering this gift card to one of my lucky readers! I cannot wait to here what dish you are most excited to try! Good Luck!!