Ciao! Benevento! Bon appetite! These are the words I was immediately greeted with as I was politely ushered inside of Olive Garden and instantly seated. Being seated right away is not anything unusual at this inviting restaurant brimming with hospitality; however, if you show up on a Friday night around the time everyone’s being dismissed from work, there is bound to be a small wait. Despite the apparent bustling, the staff continues to make you feel as if you are a top priority by offering you any beverages and providing seating for even those who are waiting. This well known restaurant is like a family heirloom that has been passed down from generation to generation; you can easily find the whole family gathered here at a fancy table to celebrate a relative’s birthday or huddled in a cozy booth to simply celebrate surviving another week. Whenever we venture to Olive Garden and bring along my grandma, who often has difficulty walking, my family never has to worry; we can always count on an eager waiter to drop whatever it is he or she is doing and prop the door open for her, sitting us at a location right near the entrance.
I often ponder if there’s a specific aspect of Olive Garden that keeps bringing my family and I back year after year. Maybe it’s the way you are led back to a table and it looks as if it has been pulled straight from a House Beautiful magazine, displaying perfectly folded satin napkins and tempting desert brochures. From the time I was a little kid, I have refused to eat in restaurants that possess floors sprinkled with crumbs, tattle telling what meal the pervious couple sitting at your table shared. I am proud to report that this has never been an issue at Olive Garden. Although the cleanup is done within a matter of seconds, it is both thorough and effective.
Maybe it’s not the tables and cleanliness that set Olive Garden apart from other dining restaurants, though. Maybe it is the carpeted dining room and closed off section, which possesses a small mini bar and a few stools for those who are waiting. The bars and stools display fine wood, adding to the warm atmosphere the restaurant easily gives off. Maybe it’s even the authentic Italian meals that make you feel as if you have just stepped off a plane in Venice. The menu possesses a variety of meals that will satisfy you no matter what you are in the mood for, whether that be comforting spaghetti or classic Calamari. Don’t let the exquisite names of the dishes scare you off. Hesitant to try the Zuppa Tuscano soup because I wasn’t even sure if I was able to pronounce it, I did not regret my spontaneous decision, basking in the creamy goodness while I simultaneously enjoyed the complementary breadsticks and all-you-can-eat salad.
It is worth noting that throughout the entire meal, I never had to blatantly ask for a refill. My waiter was always there when I needed her and gone when I did not. For my entrée, I ordered the Seafood Alfredo and was not disappointed. Both rich in taste and fulfilling, it was the perfect balance between zesty seafood and comforting pasta. Not leaving room for dessert, my family and I promptly received the check. We were not at all surprised at the price considering the establishment was evidently a place of fine dining.
As I previously stated, I have always ask myself what it is that keeps my family and I returning to Olive Garden year after year. I have concluded that that is like asking myself why I like lasagna. It’s not particularly the dried oregano nor the Ricotta cheese that keeps me running back to the kitchen for second helpings but rather the dish as a whole. All the aspects of Olive Garden, from the hospitality to the inviting dishes, keeps me running back to 28th street for more.