Olive Garden New 2014 Menu | Over 20 Options! #OGTastes. I was invited to a special blogger dinner at Olive Garden, where I got to try out the new menu for free. All opinions are 100% my own. They could have just said free breadsticks 🙂
Olive Garden New 2014 Menu | Over 20 Options! #OGTastes
Olive Garden has introduced a new “Small Plates” options for those wanting a smaller portion size or a bigger variety. 8 new little dishes expand the Taste of Italy. This is awesome, because you already have the option for unlimited salad and breadsticks. Sometimes you need “just enough.”
Polenta Shrimp alla Greca (“Small Plates”) – Sautéed shrimp served on creamy polenta and topped with a fresh blend of olives, capers and tomato sauce.
This dish is actually perfect for those wanting “just a bite.” A hint of Greek flavor and the polenta was delish. Be warned, the tails are left on the shrimp, so be sure to pull those off.
Spicy Calabrian Wings (“Small Plates”) – Chicken wings tossed with garlic and chili peppers from the Italian region of Calabria, served with gorgonzola dipping sauce. Increase the heat by adding our signature Calabrian chili paste. Available for a limited time.
This was my favorite dish of the night. It actually reminded me a lot of the new wings at another recent restaurant visit. Spicy, flavorful and great blend of seasonings, these wings are a fantastic choice. Who knew Olive Garden would have wings? I recommend mixing the chili paste and a little olive oil together for a dip. Splendid!
Risotto Bites (“Small Plates”) – Bite-sized blend of Italian cheeses and rice, lightly fried and served in marinara sauce.
Easily my next favorite dish. I could have had about 20 of these and would have been perfectly happy. A fancy “fried mac n cheese” ball I would say, with creamy risotto inside. Seriously…amazing.
For 2014, there are new Twists on Olive Garden Salads you love. Escalate your salad with some new toppers for both the veggie and meat lovers. No worries, your favorite Olive Garden salad is still waiting for you underneath.
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Topper – Fresh mozzarella bites, roasted tomato, bell pepper, basil, kale and an extra-virgin olive oil drizzle.
Antipasti Italian Meats & Cheese Salad Topper – Hard salami, genoa salami, pepperoni and mozzarella.
Of both salads, I would choose the caprese. The fresh kale was lovely and the fresh mozzarella was the perfect bite size. I just wish there were MORE roasted tomatoes. I think we found 2 in our whole bowl. If you get the option, ask for MORE tomatoes!
Olive Garden is introducing a new lunch menu with faster service. I even had my server ask me if I was in a hurry the last time I went for lunch. They acknowledge busy work schedules and bring out quicker meal options. The new Tuscan Trio Combinations allows guests to enhance their soup/salad/breadsticks lunch by adding a Small Plate, Pasta Side or adding a salad topper. New Lunch Sandwich and Flatbread options are great for those looking for that perfect fast midday meal. Can you beat a sandwich and fries?
Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich – Smashed chicken meatballs with roasted bell peppers and mozzarella on a focaccia bun. Served with garlic parmesan fries.
To me, the sandwich is definitely on the smaller size. I love having the dipping sauce with it. Bread was fresh and crispy and I added the greens inside for an extra crunch. My fries were cold, so hard to judge, but they were topped with parmesan and were still crispy.
The new Cucina Mia portion of the menu allows guests to create their own pasta dish, now with even more options. You can’t beat the $9.99 price tag either.
o Choose your pasta: New Large Paccheri, New Tri-Colored Vegetable Penne, Bucatini, New Cavatappi, Whole Wheat Linguine, New Gluten-Free Rotini
o Choose your made-from-scratch sauce: New Creamy Garlic Asiago, 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
Large Paccheri with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Chicken Meatballs (from the Cucina Mia menu):
So, this dish was a little disappointing for me. The sauce was bland, maybe because it as sitting too long and got absorbed by the monstrous noodles on my plate….I’m not entirely certain. The chicken meatballs were nice though. If they hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have guessed they were chicken.
Vegetable Penne Primavera (from the Cucina Mia menu)
This was a much better combo for me. The noodles were the right size, plenty of sauce, and veggies mixed in.
New Specialty Entrees have been added to the menu, including Lighter Fare, Chicken and Seafood options. Cooked on a Piastra flat-top grill, the meats are cooked more evenly while sealing in the juiciness.
Pappardelle Pescatore – Sautéed shrimp, bay scallops and clams tossed with pappardelle pasta, fresh asparagus and tomatoes in a creamy red pepper seafood sauce.
Honestly didn’t try this one. Clams and mussels are not a part of the Christie diet. But my tablemates did say that you could still taste the flavor of the seafood, but it wasn’t overpowering the dish.
Chicken Abruzzi [under 575 calories] – Grilled chicken breast in a savory broth simmered with cannellini beans, kale and garden vegetables.
This dish is probably Olive Garden’s crown jewel of the new menu. Fresh, light, and tons of fresh kale accompany the grilled chicken and lemon. I was uncertain whether to think of this dish as a plate, a stew, or a soup, since I was served a plate and a spoon. But the flavor combinations were actually very bright and clever. I would have never guessed 575 calories for the portion size. It was a filling dish.
Chicken Primavera with Giant Fusili (Spring Seasonal Menu) – Sautéed chicken breasts with snap peas, asparagus and Italian vegetables tossed in a fresh tomato pomodoro sauce over giant fusilli pasta.
By now, I was completely stuffed. I did have a bite, and it was good. The chicken was well seasoned and I appreciated a small nod to the Spring season.
Wild Berry Layer Cake – Layers of moist vanilla cake and Italian cream topped with seasonal berries and white chocolate shavings.
I was expecting a heavy dessert. But this was really light, airy, and just enough sweet and tart flavors to balance each other. I almost finished the entire thing…despite how stuffed I was. The white chocolate shavings added a nice crunch too. Seriously fresh and yum!
You can head into your local Olive Garden right now and sample all of the new flavors on their 2014 menu. From quick service, family budget prices and lighter meal options, Olive Garden has completely transformed their menu for your taste buds to explore. And with over 20 new options, you’re sure to find a new favorite. I found mine! There’s still you classic family favorites too, so the whole family can enjoy all that Olive Garden has to offer.
Have you tried the new Olive Garden Menu yet? Which dish is your favorite?
Disclosure ~ I received a delicious meal from Olive Garden in exchange for this posting. All opinions are 100% my own. Be sure to follow Saving Said Simply for more family-friendly meal reviews, giveaways and more!