Prior to going gluten and dairy free (GFCF), I used to love the Olive Garden restaurant. I'm not sure if it was the bottomless salad bowl (I'm a big fan of Italian salads with black olives and peppers) or the warm bread sticks I used to smother butter over. When I became GFCF and realized one day that I may never dine at the Olive Garden again, it almost brought tears to my eyes. I'm not sure why because it's not really that nice of a place but anyway you can imagine my excitement when I was told they now have gluten free pasta.
I decided to combine a needed trip to the Great Mall in Milpitas with a review of the Olive Garden. They have a full gluten free menu which includes Penne Rigate Pomodoro, Penne Rigate Marinara, Steak Toscano, Herb Grilled Salmon and Mixed Grill (steak and chicken). They even offered two kid's entrees.
|I know this is hard to read. Email me if you want a bigger JPEG.|
|Warning: the Italian dressing on the salad contains cheese!|
I was further disappointed when the pasta came out. It looked over cooked and translucent. See the third photo below. The pasta was literally falling apart. From what I've read on the gluten free chat boards, this is a common experience at Olive Gardens across the country. One post read, "DO NOT ORDER THE GF PASTA AT OLIVE GARDEN." Unfortunately, I read that post after this visit.
|Adult Entree of Pasta Pomodoro with grilled chicken|
|Kid's entree of Pasta Marinara with grilled chicken|
|Not very appetizing!|
Being that there are only a few gluten and dairy free dining options at the Great Mall, I will probably be back there occasionally. I think next time, I'll try the salmon. Rather than give this Olive Garden experience a "thumbs down," I'll give it an "Okay" rating just because there are not that many other options at the mall and my son seemed to like it. It was a good atmosphere for children which was good for me since Sam kept popping in and out of his seat. No one seemed to mind.