OK, maybe that is a bit dramatic, and I'll be honest, I am not much of a chain restaurant diner. I lean toward the local eateries, as opposed to the national institutions. What do you expect, I am just a boy from North Pole with a love of food. We never had much in the way of national franchise restaurants when I was growing up.
I have been to Olive Garden before, in the Seattle area, on trips with swimmers (I am a swim coach too). As a result, I have never really been able to relax and enjoy myself while dining at an Olive Garden. That changed tonight, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
My wife and I started with the Stuffed Mushroom appetizer. These tender mushrooms were stuffed with clams, herb breadcrumbs, and a blend of parmesan, romano, and mozzarella cheeses. What can I say? They were delicious! I am lucky there were only 6 of them, or I could have gone on eating those decadent starters.
We moved on to soup and salad...I had both. The Garden-Fresh Salad is popular for very good reasons: it is very tasty, and it is bottomless. The house Italian dressing is bright with flavor, and quite rich. The tomatoes, lettuce, etc are all fresh and flavorful. It is not the lightest salad around, but it hits the spot.
For soup, I chose the Pasta e Fagioli. Now, I love soup. In fact, I am a bit of a soup snob. Again, I have to say, that Olive Garden has a nice zuppe. The fagioli has white and red beans, a bit of ground beef, and tomatoes, all served up with some tender pasta in a nicely seasoned broth. It is full of savory goodness, and very wholesome. I had to hold back on getting a refill.
|Olive Garden's Venetian Apricot Chicken|
The entree' was probably the weakest part of the meal, but it was still pretty good. The grilled chicken breasts weren't the most tender I have had, but they were cooked properly and were not dried out. The broccoli and tomatoes were a bit limp and mushy, but the asparagus was just right. The apricot citrus sauce is a bit on the sweet side, but not cloyingly sweet. If the sauce were just a bit more savory than sweet, I would say it was perfect.
Speaking of sweet, we decided to share a dessert. We were both pretty full, so it is nice that Olive Garden has Dolcini. These little desserts offer up 2-3 bites, but are great way to finish a meal. We had the Strawberry & White Chocolate Cream Cake. It was a nice little cake with strawberry syrup, whipped cream, and white chocolate chips. A pretty nice ending to a very nice meal.
Address - 1186 N Muldoon Road, Anchorage, AK 99504 & locations across the country.
Phone - 907.333.1300
Website - www.olivegarden.com
Reservations - None taken. It is first come, first serve. The Anchorage Olive Garden is the hottest place in town right now, so expect a wait. I have heard that, on a Friday night, you could expect up to two and a half hour wait. If you go earlier in the week, and go after 8p, you will have a much shorter wait. They also have a Take Out menu, so that is an option as well.
Overall Recommendation - I enjoyed my dinner. The appetizers, soup, salad (and breadsticks) are very good! My server was friendly and very attentive. If you don't like to wait more than an hour for a table, consider a less popular dining time....or their Take Out menu.