I recently got the opportunity to sample some of the many new entrées recently added to the Olive Garden Italian Restaurant menu. My first trip took me to the Citadel Crossing location on 513 N. Academy Blvd. in eastern Colorado Springs. I was immediately greeted by a friendly staff, a warm inviting atmosphere, and a robust scent of garlic.
As my server, Stephanie seated me, we began discussing the latest additions to the menu. She struck me as being very knowledgeable of all that Olive Garden had to offer. She recommended several mouth-watering options. Stephanie also informed me the glasses of wine were complimentary. So I seized upon her informative recommendations, and tried one sample glass of red, and one of white. The red wine was Rosso dolce Roscato. It had a nice ruby color with a sweet, fruity flavor that was a symphony on the tongue. The white was Evolution White Blend. It was okay. It was too dry and lacked any distinguishable flavor.
I started my meal off trying the new Antipasti Italian Meet and Cheese salad topper on the complimentary salad, for $2.99 extra. It consists of hard and Genoa salami, pepperoni, and slices of mozzarella cheese. It enhanced my enjoyment of the salad immensely: more color; more flavor. It was absolutely delicious, I couldn’t get enough. I would have liked to have seen more dark greens. The garlic/butter bread sticks continue to be a taste of heaven. Their succulent aroma made my mouth water.
For my main dish, I had the marinated Garlic Rosemary Chicken off their Lighter Italian Fare section. On arrival, the plating of the entrée was very appealing to eye, while the aroma taunted my nose. The white meat chicken, grilled to tender juicy perfection, rested on a bed of steamed spinach leaves. Topped with sweet caramelized garlic cloves, rosemary garnish, and garlic parmesan mashed potatoes for $13.99. The succulently seasoned chicken melted in my mouth. The mashed potatoes was smooth creamy goodness.
My second trip was to the Olive Garden at Chapel Hills Mall,, 7815 N. Academy Blvd. I was quickly seated by warm and friendly wait staff. The ambiance was friendly, relaxing, welcoming. I was a little taken aback when I noticed, unlike the Citadel Crossing location, they used paper napkins instead of cloth.
When my server, Patricia, arrived I ordered Olive Garden’s new Spicy Calabrian Wings appetizer for $8.99. The wings are tossed with crushed garlic and chili peppers from the region of Calabria. They come with a gorgonzola dipping sauce. You can increase the heat with their Calabrian chili paste. They provide a small bottle of olive oil you can use to dilute the paste if it is too hot for your taste. Now I love hot and spicy food. So to me, the wings alone with the crushed seasoning were good. They had a little zesty kick, but that was about it. The dipping sauce was tasty. If you like the taste of blue cheese, you’ll like the dip. I put some of the paste, no olive oil, on one of the wings, and felt some heat. I waited to see if it would sneak up on me like siracha. For me, there was no massive heat. I finished off the chili paste in three wings. I brought some of the wings home. My mother tried them (just the crushed garlic and chili). She felt the heat immediately, and was brought to tears. So the heat really depends on you individual pallet.
Next I had the Zuppa Toscana soup. It’s spicy sausage, russet potatoes, an kale served in a creamy broth. The soup was delicious. Especially with the grated parmesan cheese Patricia offered. In addition I sampled a glass of their new Tuscan White Blend wine. It had a fruity bouquet, nice color, but was too dry for me. Patricia recommended a different white wine. Moscato from Castello del Poggio, Italy. She said it has an apple and pear flavor. I took her up on her suggestion. The Moscato had a fruitier bouquet. With the first sip, I could easily taste the apple and pear flavors.
Shortly after the main course arrived, the Cucian Mia (my kitchen). This entree lets you choose from six choices different pastas; five types of sauce; four select toppings (at extra cost); and one of three deserts. I had whole wheat linguine, with roast garlic alfredo, and two chicken meatballs. The pasta was cooked beautifully, while the alfredo was creamy and cheesy. The meatballs were tender, juicy and cooked all the way through. The whole dish was superb. If I could have licked the plate clean I would have. I also had a sip of the Moscato with my pasta. It complimented the dish so well, I ordered a full glass to enjoy with the meal.
Lastly I had the new Salty Carmel Tiramisu. The presentation was beautiful, the taste, absolute pleasure. The caramel mousse, vanilla soaked ladyfingers, salted caramel crumble and chocolate shavings just melted in my mouth. Every peace was a slice of heaven. Your mouth will thank you.
From the new entrees I sampled. I have to say they are excellent additions to the Olive garden menu. I highly encourage you to give them a try. They will satisfy your fine dining cravings. If you leave hungry, that’s your fault.