The Pastas

November 29th

November 29th
Angel Hair studded with Grilled Chicken, refreshingly merged with Alfredo
Comments

Do you remember being a young child, waking up some cold morning, and pressing your hands against the frost-laced window of your bedroom as you took in the sight of the year’s first snowfall? A landscape you knew so well transformed literally overnight into an entirely different world. That’s the feeling that I’m trying to evoke here.

Behind Every Good Pasta, There's A Great Breadstick

Behind Every Good Pasta, There's A Great Breadstick
Angel Hair intriguingly festooned with Grilled Chicken, combined with Meat Sauce
Comments

Whenever I talk with a non-professional about Olive Garden, the first thing out of their mouth is almost invariably breadstick-related. It’s unfortunate that due to the focus of my blog - the never ending pasta bowl - I can’t really give them the time and respect that such a core part of the brand deserves. So I found this photo in my reel of pictures of an otherwise mediocre and unimpressive combination, and am hijacking this review for the sake of everyone’s favorite comestible: the humble breadstick. Soft, warm, and seasoned generously with buttery garlic salt, it has truly earned its popularity. With bread like this, who needs an entree?

Alice, Your Days Are Numbered

Alice, Your Days Are Numbered
Grilled Chicken glazed with Five Cheese Marinara, nestled within a pile of Rigatoni
Comments

My waitress, one of the faceless hundreds who have for three years tirelessly marched to and from Olive Garden’s kitchen in a futile attempt to fill the black hole that is my pastabelly gracefully places my meal in front of me.
“Here you go, sir. Don’t worry. The chicken’s just hiding under the sauce. Hehe.”
This is a clear breach of NEPB protocol - pasta, covered by sauce, covered by topping, every time - and I don’t particularly care for anyone else anthropomorphizing my food. That’s my job.
I make a mental note to leave a strongly-worded direct message with the official Olive Garden twitter to have her fired. It’s been a few days now and she still seems to be working, so I’m not really sure what’s going on with that. But we’ll wait and see.

Grilled Chicken Makes Everything Better

Grilled Chicken Makes Everything Better
Asiago Garlic Alfredo embedded with Grilled Chicken, tossed with Rigatoni
Comments

Traditionally made out of little more than butter, flour, and heavy cream - and coming in at a whopping 720 calories - alfredo sauce is definitely a heavy addition to any pasta. Pairing it with rigatoni and grilled chicken definitely lightens the load and makes for a much more enjoyable eating experience. Compare a forkful of this dish with that of, say, Mario’s Malaise, and you’ll immediately see what I mean.

Courage Under Fire

Courage Under Fire
Rigatoni crossbred with Alfredo, impressively mixed with Grilled Chicken
Comments

In this photo I really tried to capture the tensile strength of rigatoni. Note how the eyes are drawn to the central piece, which holds its shape despite the weight of another rigatoni atop it. Truly an engineering marvel. The top rigatoni, however, is sagging! Perhaps there is also a more metaphorical meaning here - that pain is relative. Not everyone responds to pressure the same way, and there are many kinds of strength.

Cat Scratch Fever

Cat Scratch Fever
Spaghetti refreshingly smothered in Five Cheese Marinara, hybridized with Grilled Chicken
Comments

I find the browning on the grilled chicken really visually appealing, especially when looked at with the striations of the chicken muscle. Olive Garden’s food has always looked a little plastic, a little too manufactured - see the spaghetti and five cheese marinara in this photo for an example. But the grilled chicken is real. I love it.

Poster Boy

Poster Boy
Grilled Chicken tossed with Alfredo, swathed in a deep dish of Fettuccine
Comments

This is the combination that Olive Garden features prominently on their 2016-edition menu for the Never Ending Pasta Bowl, and also in much of their promotional material. I spent a lot of time taking pictures of what I was served, and I think I did the best I could with what I got. Now all that’s left to do is wait for the talent scouts to come knocking on my door. Psst - it’s vino at all of garden dot com, if you’re wondering.

Poster Man

Poster Man
Fettuccine topped with Grilled Chicken, balanced with Asiago Garlic Alfredo
Comments

Consider this a darker, grittier reboot of Grilled Chicken Alfredo. A little bit more nuanced, a little more adult. May not be suitable for all customers. Only served after 10 pm.

Orange You Glad

Orange You Glad
Five Cheese Marinara sheltered within a ball the size of a chihuahua's head of Fettuccine, expertly accompanied by Grilled Chicken
Comments

Truly the Italian Sausage of sauces, Five Cheese Marinara is really gross-looking but actually tastes pretty good. It’s a sort of guilty pleasure - which, now that I think of it, is a weird distinction to make when you’re already at the Olive Garden. Who am I trying to impress here?

Comin' At Ya!

Comin' At Ya!
Pappardelle studded with Grilled Chicken, showered in Five Cheese Marinara
Comments

Ever since I figured out how to adjust the f-stop on my camera, my photography has really made the leap from “guy who just bought a nice camera” to “guy who spent 2 minutes skimming the manual for his nice camera”. The depth of field adds, I feel, a sense of action to an otherwise plain bowl of pasta.

Hungry Man

Hungry Man
Pappardelle adorned with Meatballs, skillfully drenched in Alfredo
Comments

I have disliked the combination of meatballs and alfredo since I first tried it 3 years ago. It has not improved in that time, though not having it on a bed of angelhair does help considerably.

Sporty Sauce

Sporty Sauce
Asiago Garlic Alfredo expertly tossed on a mound of Pappardelle
Comments

Consistently voted “Best Dressed” amongst the Pasta Bowl Sauces - it’s hard to beat the chic accessories of whole cloves of roasted garlic and freshly-grated cheese. Make it last forever - friendship never ends (for a limited time only, starting at $9.99)!

Pasta Combination Selector