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Taste Buds: Olive Garden

New lunch options bring Buds to the table

March 21, 2013
By EMIlY DOMINICI and SHAUNNA DUNDER HERSHBERGER , Times Leader

"Into each life some rain must fall."

Longfellow wrote it.

Ella Fitzgerald sang it.

And this past Monday afternoon, the Buds lived it.

The cold and wet weather dampened our spirits and pretty much ruined our fantastical lunch plan, which included sunshine and a super-fun road trip.

C'est la vie.

Falling back on Plan B, the Buds headed into the soggy mess to dine at a more local venue. Realizing the day practically DEMANDED eating comfort food, they headed to the Highlands to try the Olive Garden's new lunch menu. Yep, still a win!

The standard lunch menu at said establishment features a bevy of yummy appetizers, soups and salads (we LOVE the endless soup, salad and breadstick lunch special) pizzas, and several of their classic pasta recipes as well as dishes with beef, pork, chicken, fish and seafood. They also have a nice selection of light dishes that fall under the 500 calorie mark and - the reason for our visit: five new lunch combinations starting at $6.95.

Each entree begins with unlimited fresh baked breadsticks and choice of soup or salad. Bud Shaunna opted for the soup - Pasta e Fagioli to be exact - while Bud Em went with their garden fresh salad.

The salad was tasty as always, loaded with plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion slices, olives, pepperocinis, grated Parmesan and their yummy Italian dressing. The soup had a hearty tomato broth and was filled with white and red beans, pasta and beef - what a fantastic (and tasty) way to warm up on such a damp and windy day!

The new lunch choices themselves include a Four Cheese Calzone, Chicken Alfredo Calzone, Pizzaiola Calzone, Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich and the classic or spicy Shrimp Scampi Fritta and all are available Monday through Friday until 4 p.m.

After having her fill of fresh salad, Bud Em decided to try the Chicken Alfredo Calzone which was described as being handmade with grilled chicken, spinach, Italian cheeses and a Parmesan cream sauce, served with a side of alfredo.

The calzone was very delicious! The crust (always Bud Em's favorite part) was cooked perfectly as were the strips of grilled chicken. The rich and creamy alfredo sauce and warm, gooey cheese turned out to be the perfect thing to warm up with on such a gloomy day. While the calzone was not overly big, the endless salad and breadsticks certainly ensure a full belly at the tune of $7.95.

Bud Shaunna tackled the Shrimp Scampi Fritta, classic style. Half a sandwich was plenty filling, along with the soup and breadsticks, and featured fried popcorn shrimp, spring greens, chunky, marinated tomatoes and a garlic and white wine butter sauce. While the sandwich may have looked small, it packed a flavorful punch and filled a hungry (and cold) Bud's belly for just $7.95.

Sometimes all you need to make a rainy day a little brighter is a blanket of comfort. And there was nothing more comforting - or tasty - for the Buds on this dreary day than to revisit a local favorite!

The Buds can be reached at tastebuds@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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