Olive Garden Finds It Difficult to Be Culinarily Progressive

Casual diners at Olive Garden are saying, NO THANKS and WHAT??? to gnocchi, capers, pesto, and red wine marinara sauce. It seems that test dishes that are too far fetched from traditional, every day flavors, don’t seem to resonate in particular Olive Garden test circuits.

A recent report out of the Wall Street Journal reminds us that a chain as wide reaching as Olive Garden will face some serious hurdles when trying to integrate culinarily innovative dishes into a menu that has succeeded due to its generally acceptable flavors.

Why? Although many Americans have broadened their food horizons recently through popular cooking shows and larger supermarkets, the vast majority still have very bland taste buds.

The restaurant struggles with trying to be “culinary forward” while still pleasing its usual demographic. Even the smallest menu change is reported to be “agonizing” for the restaurant chain because it has an immediate impact on sales. Popular dishes are still “cheesy, chickeny, and pastay things” says John Caro, Olive Garden President.

An “adventurous dish” at Olive Garden is the Seafood Ciopinno served with ciabatta bread because it doesn’t contain the quintessential cheese or pasta. But then again, who expects to go to Olive Garden to get a really solid authentic italian meal anyways? It’s just about the breadsticks. Am I right?


By Lucia Phan

Lucia Phan has a Bachelors Degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Food & City Culture and Environmental Economics. She is the founder of Banana Slug Edibles, where she bakes specialty cakes and cupcakes for patients in Orange County & Los Angeles. In her free time she likes to collect recipes and will forever be searching for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe known to man.

1 reply on “Olive Garden Finds It Difficult to Be Culinarily Progressive”

i work at a supermarket produce dept and I see firsthand just how boring most peoples tastes are.  I always cringe when I see someone buy a head of iceberg lettuce and would never consider buying something like spring mix or arugula

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