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Olive Garden Adds Burgers and Fries to Its Menu

The "Italiano" burger.
The "Italiano" burger.
Photo: Olive Garden/Facebook

Italian-ish chain restaurant Olive Garden is getting in on the burger game: Starting today, Olive Gardens will offer a $10, six-ounce "Italiano burger" made Italian-ish with mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, marinated tomatoes, and a garlic aioli. The lunchtime burger will be served with another new item on the OG menu — Parmesan garlic fries — plus the usual unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks deal that's become standard (which seriously adds up to a lot of food).

The addition of burgers and fries reflects Olive Garden's attempts to diversify its menu and get younger diners in the door: Earlier this year, Olive Garden launched a "tapas-style" appetizer menu meant to appeal to small-plates-loving Millennials, offering dishes like garlic hummus and chicken skewers. Per CNBC, the brand has suffered a four-percent drop in same-store sales this year, but according to financial analysts at Seeking Alpha, a hamburger may be stretching too far for the chain best known for never-ending pasta bowls: "The burger play looks ill-fated to some analysts with the Olive Garden brand entrenched as an Italian food option." Well, spinach and artichoke dip isn't exactly Italian, either, so perhaps it's best to never underestimate the power of a burger-and-breadstick pairing?

· Olive Garden Enters Burger Brigade with the Italiano [CNBC]
· All Olive Garden Coverage on Eater [-E-]