Olive Garden's "Dinner Today & Dinner Tomorrow" -- how do you double unlimited breadsticks?


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J. Wohletz
Spaghetti with four cheese meat sauce -- and more cheese on top.
The zuppa Toscana is the best soup option, particularly when covered with a medium-thick blanket of grated cheese. It's a fragrant and succulent combination of crumbled sausage, bacon, sliced russet potatoes, cream and shredded kale. While some people might consider it an abomination to mix two breakfast meats in one dish, thank god this is America, where we're free to overload on protein. The creamy, bacon-flavored broth was another great dip for breadsticks, too.

I was on the third basket of breadsticks when my entrees arrived. The spaghetti was cooked just past al dente, the way I like it, and the meat sauce was just as gory, cheese-bombed and impeccable as every other time I've ordered it. The four cheese part was fairly new: Although Olive Garden tweaks its standard house sausage, beef and tomato sauce from time to time, the lightly tangy, meat and oregano-heavy sauce is consistently thick and hearty, and adding grated cheese to the top of of an already cheesy sauce was thrilling overkill.

I was also ever-so-grateful for the ravioli doused in five cheese marinara, a masterpiece of diced tomatoes, cheese and basil, because it proved another perfect dip for the breadsticks. The cheese ravioli themselves were plump with warm ricotta.


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J. Wohletz
Cheese ravioli with cheese sauce--and cheese on top.
I couldn't think of a more effective way to squeeze more cheese into this meal than by ordering a slice of Black Tie Mousse Cake: a chilled, layered creation of chocolate cake, dark chocolate cheesecake, creamy custard mousse and a crust almost solely composed of chocolate chips. I thought about dipping a breadstick into this, but the basket was cashed out.

But I wasn't leaving the Olive Garden empty-handed -- or without additional breadsticks. My premade, chilled to-go entrees were neatly packed into microwavable plastic containers with preparation instructions on the lid. The portions were just as generous as the in-house entrees -- possibly bigger, even -- and I zapped them later on that night. I was curious to see whether or not the reheated, microwaved Alfredo sauce would be edible, since I'd had bad luck with past leftovers, the pasta absorbing the cheese sauce and turning into a hot, gummy mess.

I surmised that the thick layer of shredded mozzarella on top of each of these pasta portions must have had some sort of insulating quality, because the fettuccine Alfredo was moist, and although the sauce was a bit thicker than usual, at least there was sauce. The ziti had the same sauce I'd enjoyed with the ravioli, so I had more dipping material for the glutton-sized bag of to-go breadsticks.

Marilyn Hagerty's review of her local Olive Garden was rather saccharine. I'm not ready to go all sweet on my local Olive Garden, but I can say that I appreciate its conformity, complete lack of surprises, dedication to cheese...and endless breadsticks.

Times two, thanks to "Dinner Today & Dinner Tomorrow."





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