Last year, it seemed every new restaurant had the same theme: moderately priced comfort food. This year? So far, it seems Italian is the new comfort food. Or maybe it's the return of the classic comfort food?
But even as a whole new slew of Italian joints opens up, the nemesis of fine Italian dining still lurks. We're talking Olive Garden.
So below are five of the most God-awful Olive Garden dishes.
5. The Never-Ending Pasta Bowl
The commercials for the Never-Ending Pasta Bowl special never seem quite right. A discussion at Olive Garden about it would go more like:
Waiter: "Here's your fettucine."
Patron: "Oh my God, no! Why won't this end?"
Waiter: "It will never end. You have entered the Groundhog Day of pasta specials."
4. Sampler Italiano Appetizer
I believe it was Julia Child who first explained that the best foodstuffs come in forms that would fit into a kid's peg box. Mmm, triangle-shaped.
3. Smoked Mozzarella Fonduta
You can almost hear Sinatra in the background as you imagine spreading this bowl of Crisco-meets-melted-cheese on rounds of stale bread. Now that's Italian!
Just because you've got the fryer heated up does not mean that you should drop in the frozen lasagna. OK, I'll give Olive Garden some props for deep-frying lasagna, but just don't call it Italian. Call it deep-fried assurances that your cardiologist can send his kids to college.
1. "Bottomless" Bread Sticks
If you've ever worked in an office or have an elderly relative or know someone who's never eaten decent Italian cuisine, then you've probably been dragged to Olive Garden for its "bottomless" salad and bread sticks. Oh, yes, Olive Garden, there is a bottom, and your bread sticks define it.