Josh and I were lucky enough to be invited to an exclusive food tasting @ Olive Garden in Ann Arbor, MI last week. Olive Garden’s culinary geniuses were looking for feedback on their latest and most significant menu evolution in OG history. Olive Garden’s new menu is designed to appeal to the evolving palettes and preferences of casual dining guests, while providing more customizable options. See how they ranked!
Atmosphere: 4 out of bites
Price: 3.5 out 5 bites
Quality/Taste: 4.5 out of 5 bites
Service: 4 out of 5 bites
Wow Factor: 4 out of 5 bites
We started off with a drink…
Italian Margarita: Sauza Gold Tequila, triple sec and imported Italian amaretto. Light, refreshing, and dangerous because you cannot taste the alcohol. The sweetness from the amaretto balances the sourness from the margarita. Highly recommended!
Out of a 10 course food tasting, Josh and I decided to share our favorites.
Crispy Risotto Bites: A bite-sized blend of Italian cheeses and rice, lightly fried and served with marinara sauce. Perfectly crispy and not greasy. The marinara was flavorful and the perfect sidekick. Great for sharing!
Artichoke Fritta: Artichoke hearts lightly battered and fried, topped with Italian cheeses, Served with citrus aioli dipping sauce. Even though the artichoke hearts were fried, this appetizer was very light. The artichoke has a slightly lemony and sour element that brightened up the texture. The citrus aioli sauce was what made this dish: delectable!
Salmon Bruschetta: Grilled filet topped with fresh tomatoes and basil pesto. Served on a seafood risotto with sauteed shrimp. Although we’re not huge seafood fans (Josh even less than I), this salmon was amazing. Cooked and seasoned perfectly and extremely fresh! The creamy and silky risotto was the perfect pairing.
Citrus Chicken Sorrento: (Lighter Italian Fare, under 575 calories). Tender, grilled chicken breasts in a citrus honey glaze, inspired by the city of Sorrento, famous for it’s lemon groves. Served with lightly seasoned broccoli, artichokes and roasted vegetables. The sweet citrus and lemon flavor was light, yet satisfying. The chicken was tender, juicy, and succulent.
Braised Beef and Tortelloni: Tender slices of slow-braised beef, portobello mushrooms, and asiago-filled tortelloni tossed in a basil-marsala sauce. OMG! Hands down, the best thing we’ve ever eaten! The beef was so tender and absorbed so much of that slightly sweet basil-marsala sauce. The tortelloni was perfectly cooked, and filled with buttery asiago cheese that just melted in your mouth. Although this dish was slightly heavy, it was comforting, exquisite and so worth it!
Apple Tuscan Bread Pudding: (Seasonal dessert)-Warm, rustic Italian bread pudding baked with York Imperial applies, then topped with caramel and a rich vanilla cream. Now, I would normally gravitate towards a chocolate dessert or cheesecake for an after dinner delight, but this bread pudding is good! A nice crusty top with a moist, soft center. This is the perfect dessert to warm you up right before you venture out into the Michigan cold. The vanilla cream is the perfect finishing touch and really compliments the bread pudding well.
Some of the other menu features include Spicy Three Meat Sauce part of Cucina Mia (customize your pasta), Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper, Mediterranean Flatbread, Spicy Calabrian Wings, and Pappardella Pescatore seafood entree.
The OG staff and organizers of the food tasting were really great and took the time to explain each dish and interact with the food tasters. Service was good as always and the staff was very accommodating. A big thank you goes out to the the staff at Olive Garden and Costa Communications Group! We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, if you want good Italian that never disappoints, go to Olive Garden. This new menu is the best we’ve had at OG so stop wasting your time with mediocre. Get to Olive Garden now and experience decadence.