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The Culinary Crimes of the Olive Garden: A Retrospective

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Need further evidence that the "Italian-inspired" restaurant chain the Olive Garden, at the mercy of its customers, might just be the absolute worst? Look no further than the ad campaigns the company has dished out consistently over the last two decades.

None of these spots seem to deviate from the company's tested marketing formula: 30 seconds that must include a gregarious waitress, happy families, and product shots of new additions to the menu. Also, criminal amounts of alfredo and creamy parmesan sauce — boatloads of the stuff — that serve as the finishing touches on preparations like four-cheese-stuffed mezzaluna ravioli with parmesan polenta-crusted steak medallions. Or how about some manicotti with shrimp and alfredo? Here, now, eleven of the most awkward, abhorrent, and ultimately kind of sublime ones out there:

1. "You Do The Math. I'm Doing The Alfredo."

Dishes featured: the never-ending pasta bowl with asiago-garlic alfredo

2. Mother And Son Catch Up

Dishes featured: two new crostadas: grilled marinated chicken breast with tomato-alfredo sauce or grilled medallions of beef with a four-cheese sauce. Both served with asiago crostadas.

3. Giorgio From Italy Goes To The Olive Garden, or "That's Hospitaliano."

Dishes featured: "The Tour of Italy:" lasagna, chicken parmigiana, and creamy fettucine alfredo.

4. "I'm Looking For My Date."

Dishes featured: rigatoni stuffed with five Italian cheeses, served with either grilled chicken in a roasted garlic alfredo or with sausage and tomato-alfredo.

5. Everyone's In The Mood For Something Different

Dishes featured: two new carbonaras: large succulent shrimp or herb marinated chicken over pasta with parmesan carbonara sauce.

6. The Favorite Uncle Conundrum

Dishes featured: two new parmesan and polenta crusted dishes: sautéed chicken breast or steak medallions, both served with mezzaluna ravioli filled with four cheeses and topped with creamy alfredo.

7. Vintage: "The Word 'Generosity' Begins With A "G" But Only Ends When You Are Happy"

Dishes featured: breadsticks, salad, manicotti-looking thing.

8. Different Dish, Different Spot

Dishes featured: the never-ending pasta bowl with new spinach alfredo

9. "I Never Wanted It To End."

Dishes featured: the never-ending pasta bowl with new pizzaiola meat sauce.

10. Let's Switch

Dishes featured: the stuffed chicken limone and the stuffed chicken marsala

11. Just Us Girls

Dishes featured: the new manicotti formaggio, with ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses. Served with either sautéed shrimp and creamy carbonara sauce or with pan seared chicken with roasted peppers and homemade parmesan sauce.

· The Olive Garden Has No Choice But to Overcook Pasta [-E-]
· All Olive Garden Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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