Meet the Mediterranean with Olive Garden

Meet the Mediterranean with Olive Garden

 Ready to board?

Ready to board?

 Starting out with bubbly...

Starting out with bubbly...

A few weeks back I was lucky enough to be a invited to Olive Garden's "#MeettheMedi" experience, an intimate dinner where they shared their new Mediterranean inspired dishes, all under 600 calories! I'd actually never been to Olive Garden before this, so I was excited. I'd heard wonderous, magical things about the breadsticks (which are all true btw) and who am I to ever say no to pasta?

Olive Garden brought out a very cool, themed experience based around a train ride trip through the Italian countryside. Inside Moonlight Studios we ate inside a train car they had constructed, with virtual Italian "scenery" playing on the window screens! During the meal the chefs and out "conductor" walked around to explain each dish: the ingredients, inspiration, and how matching wine was picked for each selection. It was all so charming and fun! Definitely great for my first Olive Garden experience!

Each of the four dishes was paired with wine and I finally go to try those breadsticks! I joked about wishing I had brought a bigger purse to stuff some in, but was I really joking...? Haha. After salad and breadsticks, we start out with the Chicken Margeherita: grilled chicken breasts with tomatoes, basil pesto and lemon garlic. It comes with parmesan crusted zucchini and a crisp chardonnay. It was a great way to start and I really loved the zucchini! I had never had it prepared like this before, and will definitely try to recreate this at home.

 Chicken Margherita

Chicken Margherita

Next up was the Shrimp Scampi, with garlic sauce, asparagus, tomatoes, and a Pinot Grigio. Angelhair pasta is one of my favorites (I like smaller noodles like angel hair over larger ones like linguine) and I loved how light and almost summery this course was. 

 Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi

After the Scampi came my favorite, the Chicken Piccata: grilled chicken with lemon garlic butter sauce, tomatoes, capers, and more of the parmesan zucchini! His was paired with a Chardonnay-Pinot Grigio blend. Although this dish looked very similar to the first one, it still definitely stood out! The lemon really brought out the flavors in this dish, especially when you squeeze the grilled lemon wedge over both chicken and zucchini. I'll definitely be ordering this when I visit the OG next.

 Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata

The last course on our "train ride" was Linguini di Mare: shrimp and mussels with housemade pomodoro sauce and while grain linguine. The pairing with this was a Porta Vita Rosso blend, which I liked despite being a white wine person for the most part. This dish looks so pretty with the seafood peeking out from the noodles, and there was a small fight over the last mussel. By then however, we were all stuffed and more than ready to step back and relax over what had been a great meal.

 Linguine di Mare

Linguine di Mare

At this point, the president of Olive Garden, Dave George, came out along with the chefs to also talk about the new Mediterranean dishes a bit more, which was very cool. It was then time to get off the train.

However when we got off the "train",  what had been a "train station" had been transformed into a small outdoor cafe with flowers, a dessert cart, and accordion player! I happily settled down with a small cup of Lemon Mousse while my friend had the Amaretto Tiramisu, which was equally good. We were stuffed but still managed to eat the entire desserts anyways.

 Dessert Cups!

Dessert Cups!

 Cart of flowers in the after dinner "cafe"

Cart of flowers in the after dinner "cafe"

It was a really fun, unique experience and everything was so good, I liked everything! I'm so happy I was able to finally "visit" Olive Garden and I definitely recommend you give some of these new dishes a try if you go. Thank you for a lovely evening!