Clocking in at a grand total of $17.47*, this is one a-spicy meat-a-ball, financially speaking. You can really taste the decadence that are afforded by the two most expensive upcharges. If you go this route, be sure you're hungry, because you'll want to get several refills to not feel guilty about throwing away nearly an entire NEPB's worth of money on mediocre ravioli and (admittedly great) shrimp.
Pictured here is Rich Uncle Pennybags - imagine it with a big cartoony moustache, monocle and top hat.
*This is the price at most nationwide Olive Gardens. You can expect to pay more at OGs in Alaska and the one in New York City.
Demeanor -- Bresaola-like: tender, mature for age
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "My favorite Olive Garden memory is the time me and my friends had a $200 gift certificate so we ate a ton of food and drank a ton of alcohol and ended up in a McDonalds because someone wanted chicken nuggets."
What I really appreciate her being cool about -- That I asked her to Olive Garden, set up a date, and two days later forgot and asked her again.
Sarah wasted no time in speaking directly to the heart of my interests.
"Did you know that Denny's cuts you off after the 10th plate of their so-called 'Unlimited' pancakes?"
I liked Sarah right from the moment I saw her pink dress and leather combat boots. It's a combination not many would try, and even fewer would wear on a first date, yet she pulled it off amazingly. On top of that, it made me look like an absolute schmo, since I just wore some kind of t-shirt. You know. Like an idiot would wear.
Anyway. She's an aspiring screenwriter getting her master's degree and working in retail. She has a hermit crab! Neat!
18 more dates to go.
Today's pasta was
"Profit," said I, "for sauce and topping!—profit still, refills unstopping!
Whether Waiter sent, or whether waiting for a bowl once more,
My Ziosk light yet blue and blinking, near the Coke Zero I'm drinking --
In this Olive Garden linking its entry hall to a Crocs store,
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Chicken, "Pomodor"
Demeanor -- Cecina-like: dry, salty
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- See for yourself
Painfully determined, determinedly painful -- Agonizingly finished an entire bowl of angelhair and pesto alfredo, the heaviest imaginable combo, just to prove she could.
"You see," I mansplain, dipping my breadstick into the extra marinara sauce topping my pasta, "this is a far better value proposition than ordering a side of dipping sauce. That's - "
She interrupts me. "Four dollars. Threen ninety-five if you want to get technical."
It was at this moment that I fell in love.
Celene and I are kindred souls - and not just because we both have un-ironic Olive Garden blogs (but that is the main reason). There's something about her detached, analytical air, combined with her dedication to the same corporate agendas I worship, that really resonates with me.
I was so impressed I almost didn't notice that she tacked on an $8 dessert, to go, to the bill and then said she could pay me back through some weird online service I'm fairly certain she just made up on the spot. I'm not even mad, though; I live by the credo of Poet Laureate Ice T, who advises us to hate not the player, but the game.
19 more dates to go.
Today's pasta was
This pasta has been genetically engineered to prevent overeating. They do this by making it super gluey and unpleasant to consume.
Pictured here is Glutton-Free Rotini, and true to its name, I only ate the one bowl.
Demeanor -- Prosciutto-like: thin, raw
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I like it. The waiters look like they actually want to be here."
Has half a dozen stories about -- Bizarre ways the fish in her aquarium have died
"So, you work at ((redacted: a non-Olive Garden Italian-American style chain restaurant)). You probably already know what I'm going to ask."
I blurt this out within 5 minutes of meeting Kelly. I can't bear maintaining a pretense of apathy towards this vital topic. Fortunately, she is understanding.
"Yeah. I think the food here is a little better."
"Wow. When I put that on the blog, do you want me to blur your face out and change your name?"
Kelly wears many hats - hostess, aquarium-tender, student, Tinder Queen - and yet manages to balance them all while maintaining her humble personality. It's this affable nature that made it easy to overlook her taking a full hour to eat three bites of fettucine alfredo.
Also, she has the world's cutest cats! I appreciate any date who shows me pictures of their cats. This is not sarcasm. Future dates, take note.
20 more dates to go.
Today's pasta was
Mezzaluna Ravioli is the Premium Pasta of this year's Never Ending Pasta Bowl. Clocking in at a $2.99 upcharge, it is, proportional to the $9.99 base cost of the NEPB, a significant investment. Is it worth it? Frankly, I don't think so. Your serving size is small, when compared to the cheaper pasta options. Furthermore, more than any other OG pasta, this one's "from a frozen bag" origins are obvious in terms of texture and taste. I don't think I'd order the Ravioli even without factoring in the upcharge, but the extra three dollars removes any hope of this becoming a favorite.
Pictured here is Half-Moon - the literal translation of "Mezzaluna". Learn something new every day!
Demeanor -- Sapphorific; pleasant as a three-dollar bill
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- "I'm shocked that I like this so much."
High Roller -- Sat down and immediately ordered herself a coke zero and an eight-dollar "Sangarita".
"When you write the blog entry for me," says Ashley, putting down her Sangarita™, "you have to make it clear that I'm gay."
I nod slowly. "I think I can do that."
She seems unconvinced. "I'm serious. I don't want anyone thinking I'm one of your...pasta floozies."
Ashley is a computer programmer who lives deep within the dense forests of NorCal. Her biting wit can make her a little intimidating, but beneath that is an intelligent, extremely funny woman.
As the second of her two requirements for being on the blog, please enjoy this photograph of Ashley's treasured corgi, Scout.
21 more dates to go.
I'm really glad I don't have gluten sensitivity (and that no one else does either), because I've never had gluten-free pasta that didn't have the unsettling consistency of play-doh. I mean, it's better than having no pasta at all, but not by much.
Pictured here is Brotini - bruh.
Close up images of this sauce always make me a little nauseous, but it's so tasty that I can forgive it that, as long as it's not paired with italian sausage.
Pictured here is Palfredo - I ain't your buddy, pal!
Demeanor -- Garden salad-like: responsible, mature, but not without its own charm
Feelings about the Olive Garden -- ((lowers voice conspiratorially as waiters walk by)) "I don't want to, y'know, offend the staff here. I mean, it's mediocre. But there's comfort in that. You don't have to wear a jacket."
Most bourgeois moment -- Paid more for a single shot of whiskey than I've spent on any meal in my entire life.
As always happens when two grown-ass adult men get to talking, the subject of cute dog tricks comes up. I ask Andrew if his dogs know any good ones.
"The little one can stand on her hind legs and kind of flap her paws in the air. She's a little Rory Calhoun!"
Andrew, an audio engineer living and working in Bakersfield, came all the way down to my Olive Garden (roughly a two hour drive!) for his shot at internet fame and free pasta. He was alerted to my existence by his friends and longtime All of Garden fans, Tamerlane and Dogs of War, which I think might be pseudonyms.
Anyway, this was a pretty new experience for me, date-wise. What with us both being straight, cis, heterosexual, white men, we didn't have a lot of romantic chat about our future together or what shade of chartreuse would look best for the remodeled foyer's new dustcovers. Instead, we spent our dinner luxuriating over our privilege. It was a welcome change of pace, but I'm ready to get back to more traditional dates tomorrow!
22 more dates to go.
Today's pasta was
Nope, That's How It's Supposed To Taste, I Guess
So we're two for two on these meatballs being very, very off. We're also two for two on them not causing, at the least, *immediate* death. Will keep you all posted.
Pictured here is Nope, That's How It's Supposed To Taste, I Guess - huh.