The newly opened Olive Garden restaurant at The Grand Avenue, is a welcomed addition of Italian cuisine into the Kuwaiti dining landscape. A virtual omnipresence in the American restaurant scene since the opening of their first store in 1982, this long established brand is a welcomed newcomer to our local options. The menu, both versatile and extensive, is a culinary walk through the many regions of Italy.
So, when you are looking for Italian and want the combination of both abundant portions and versatility of options, The Olive Garden should stay fresh in your mind.
Although they have just celebrated their 30th birthday as a restaurant brand, the Grand Avenues location represents their first foray into Kuwait. So, while some of the signature dishes may be foreign to you personally, there are several features by which they have built their reputation.
Beginning seemingly before you have even settled in, you are welcomed with their “bottomless bread sticks,” long a staple of this chain that guests look forward to. Upon request, they will even serve them with an Alfredo or marinara dipping sauce that will give you that perfect amount to munch on while you peruse the menu. And, while their buttery deliciousness may cause you to want to over-indulge before you have even placed your order, you must maintain enough will power to save room for what’s still to come—you’ve been warned!
Friends of mine, for years now, would swear by the Endless Soup and Salad combo, to the point that they would never even make it to the following pages of the menu.
If you are health or budget conscious, this option alone can leave you filled up and feeling good about yourself. One interesting appetizer though that many are unaware of is the Lasagna Fritta, an innovative take on the classic cheese stick that is actually a deep fried mini portion of lasagna; two layers of noodle with Parmesan cheese in the middle and deep fried to a golden hue.
Generally, when we are talking Italian, we are of course talking about a plethora of pasta options. Surely they do not let us down in this regard: ravioli, ziti, spaghetti, linguini and we have barely scratched the surface of their offering. The Chicken Scampi with Angel hair pasta that we tried, for example, came with an ample amount of grilled chicken breast tenderloins, sautéed with bell peppers and roasted garlic, and came served on a bed of Angel hair that was both delicate and delectable. Also, for the indecisive, plates like the “Tour of Italy,” may be better suited for you: a regionally diverse trifecta of Italian options, it comes with Lasagna, Chicken Parmigiana, and a Creamy Fettuccine in Alfredo Sauce.
When it comes to types of meats we are given just as many options. The mixed grill, with its skewers of grilled marinated steak and chicken covered with a rosemary demi-glaze, is a huge portion that can satiate even the heartiest of appetites. The steak Gorgonzola-Alfredo is a rich and delicious meld of cheeses replete with spinach and a balsamic glaze. The Parmesan Crusted Bisteca, meanwhile is delicious and tender and comes with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Even when it comes to chicken dishes there are more than 6 options. Including stuffed, grilled, and served with variations of seafood and other accompaniment. Clearly the meat-lovers are covered. From a few more adventurous plates, to the tried and true, there is definitely something on this menu for everybody.
If pizza is more your thing, they also have some good options for you here. Though, while a cursory glance might initially cause you to think they are limited in options here, consisting of both a lovely Chicken Alfredo Pizza and a “make your own option,” the latter’s choice to pick toppings from 7 options provides enough separate variations to have you running through statistical problems of a factorial nature (which of course got a vigorous inter-office debate going. Feel free to submit what you think the answer is to this on our website for a free coke and an online nod).
Of the desserts we tried, both the traditional Tirimasu, as well as Triple Chocolate Strata were amazing. For more of a variation on the traditional, I would suggest the frozen Tiramisu, which is basically the old Italian favorite in the form of a shake.
You may be wondering how such a well known brand can maintain such consistency and service across so many locations. One way they work to do this and stay true to their roots of fine Italian cooking is evidenced by their creation of and commitment to their Tuscan Culinary Institute. This learning center for their chefs is meant to keep them on track. Basically an annual food pilgrimage whereby some of their luckiest chefs get sent to “The Old Country” to learn traditional variations and inspirations to the dishes they craft locally, they have, to date, sent more than 1200 of their top chefs there.
By the time you throw in the pleasant and outdoor feeling of the seating that overlooks the downstairs part of the mall, should you be so lucky, you have all the feeling of looking out from the mezzanine onto some European plaza. This all comes together to form a pleasurable dining experience.
Olive Garden is located at The Grand Avenues—The Avenues,1st Floor. For more information please call 2220 0530 or follow them on Twitter: @olivegardenkwt.