“Fast food Italian”

Years ago one of my Italian-American friends commented that he considered the grub at Olive Garden to be, “fast food Italian.” Not having much experience I was kind of taken back since I thought it was pretty good.

It’s been a number of years since we’ve eaten at an OG and until today, never at the one in Chillicothe. Looking for something different we decided to give it a try this afternoon. Well, the setting was fine, nothing wrong with the service, but (there’s always a but), the food was average at best.

We had the Tour of Italy combo plate with a sampling of lasagna, chicken Parmigiano, and fettuccine Alfredo along with the customary bowl of mixed salad and bread sticks. We enjoyed the chill and freshness of the salad but as my wife said of the bread sticks, “Nothing special here.” Well, there never was. OG’s bread has always been low-end.

We usually opt to eat out for one of two reasons. Either we’re too far from home or eating out offers something you can’t get at home. The decision today was purely one of proximity to home. I’m pretty sure I can do Italian better than most restaurants just as most of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten came off a backyard Weber grill.

15 thoughts on ““Fast food Italian””

  1. Larry, don’t forget to stop at Pirmanti Brothers up the street from Lidia’s. I have eaten there and quite frankly, how amazing is it to put fries on any sandwich and call it the best sandwich ever. Just don’t tell them you aren’t a Steelers fan.

  2. For a chain, Carrabba’s is very good and very plentiful. Love TAT in Columbus. It’s been there for over 50 years, so they must be doin’ something right. Have eaten at some authentic places that were very good and some not-so-good.

  3. One of the last government conferences I attended before I retired was in Pittsburgh. My first stop was Lidia’s. It was good. However, it was nothing I couldn’t prepare at home.

  4. Italian chain restaurants … Olive Garden’s food is pretty good, Macaroni Grill has the best bread but, Buca di Beppo has some really good food. We have eaten at Marcella’s, a Cameron Mitchell Restaurant, in Columbus; the food there is worth the money. We always look for those Italian restaurants that are authentic – Scali Ristorante in Reynoldsburg, Ohio is excellent. It is run by an Italian family. The food is great! Also, TAT Ristorante di Famiglia in Bexley is excellent. There is the Tuscan Table in Circleville that isn’t too bad if you are in the area. It is more or less like Olive Garden .

    We stopped at Johnny Carino’s in Oklahoma City. The food was just OK and it wasn’t very hot.

    Best ever – a little place in Paris France called La Casa Di Sergio. We had a 5 course meal that took us 4 hours to eat! Nothing to compare it to.

    All this talk of Italian food is making me hungry.

    1. best ever – Cibreo in Florence. The most amazing Italian food I’ve ever eaten, though La Taverna di San Giuseppe in Siena runs a close second.

  5. If you want really great Italian, not drowned in sauce, Lidia’s is the place. Upscale, classy, won’t break the wallet.they did have a pasta sampler trio at lunch.Served at the table from the saute pan….so good…they have most of the other favorites….may I suggest for dessert the ice cream trio…the ice creams are seasonal flavors and ingridents, small scoops (less guilt) and are served with a biscotti to compliment each. Bread is made on premises…oh my….She is located in New York, Boston, Phoenix, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh. The locations in K.C. and Pittsburgh are Lidia’s, the rest have different names……worth eating there.

    1. Lidia is Lidia Bastianich who, besides being a restaurateur, is also the host of a PBS cooking program called Lidia’s Italy. I’ve been watching her cook for several years now and love the simplicity of her methods. Whatever is good about my Italian dishes I attribute much of it to what I’ve learned from her program.

      Janet and I plan on having lunch at Lidia’s in Pittsburgh is a couple of weeks. I’m pretty stoked about it.

  6. Olive Garden food is average at best. You’ve eaten my lasagna and garlic bread, so you know my take on that. I would put it up against Olive Garden’s in a taste test…lol

  7. In all humility, that’s the problem with being a great cook and a food snob, Larry. We’re just never happy eating out in restaurants and all our friends are too intimidated to cook for us.

  8. Nice site Larry. Since I live in Phoenix I cannot get to your Olive Garden, but I am not especially impressed by those here in Arizona… I like the Italian cooking that one of my ex-girlfirends who was a fullblood Italian in WVa used to make…. LOL
    Hope that helps and as Bartles and James used to say thanks for the support…

  9. Any sort of chain restaurant is going to lack quality. Although I have eaten worse Italian food at an authentic Italian restaurant. There are a few things on Olive Garden’s menu that are phenomenal while other choices taste like my cooking. If you’ve ever eaten my Italian food , well let’s just say, it consists of sauce and spaghetti noodles. I definitely won’t turn down Olive garden but I am not going out of my way to eat it.
    -Sam F.

  10. If you’re looking for good Italian, my favorite is Carrabba’s. Of course, you can’t go wrong with Buca di Beppo or even the old standard Spaghetti Warehouse if you’re in Columbus. As for Olive Garden, I can make a better alfredo sauce at home, and I guarantee you won’t have a 2 hour wait for it.

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