Friday, August 8, 2014

Olive Garden: So Much More Than Soup & Breadsticks!

A new Olive Garden Italian Kitchen recently made my West Hills neighborhood it's home and I couldn't be happier! Back in my mortgage days, I remember popping into the Northridge Olive Garden for a quick lunch of unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. It was the perfect lunch to help get me through the rest of my hectic work day. It's been so long since I've had the chance to get back into an Olive Garden Restaurant so when I noticed the construction begin on the West Hills location, I was thrilled. It's right in the middle of my most frequented retail stores and my kids always work up an appetite while shopping.

The West Hills Olive Garden is lovely. I loved the lay out and the atmosphere. Definitely a family-friendly restaurant which is my favorite. Upon being seated, we were offered complimentary wine tastings....WHAT?!?! Oh yes, you read that correctly! Our wonderful server, Robyn, offered us complimentary wine as soon as she introduced herself to us and both my husband and I were so impressed. Did I mention it was COMPLIMENTARY?!?! Thank You Robyn!


We kicked off our amazing dinner with a couple appetizers. I ordered the Create-Your-Own Sampler where you select 3 appetizers from a list so I chose Calamari, Chicken Fingers and Fried Zucchini. I also had to try the Roasted Asparagus topped with a balsamic drizzle and grated Parmesan cheese. The asparagus is served with a citrus aioli dipping sauce. It was so delicious! I don't think I shared any with my husband. He enjoyed the calamari and the kids said the chicken fingers were yummy. So far so good!


My kids loved selecting their dinner from the Create Your Own Pasta kid's menu. They had their choice of pasta, sauce and protein. Each kid's meal includes a side item and a drink. The kid's menu also offers Macaroni & Cheese, Pizza, Ravioli and Chicken Fingers. Of course, all 3 kids picked the same thing. Spaghetti with Meat Sauce was a crowd pleaser. My youngest added shrimp to his pasta because he's a little foodie.


My Husband and I decided to dine outside the box and order entrees other than the usual pasta dishes offered by Olive Garden because we all already know that they have great pasta entrees. He ordered the 10oz Mediterranean Grilled Trout filet seasoned with basil and extra-virgin olive oil. His Trout was served with Pappardelle pasta tossed with garlic, broccoli and fresh tomato sauce. He said it was amazing. I ordered the Steak Toscano which is a 12oz New York strip steak brushed with Italian herbs and extra-virgin olive oil. I asked for steamed broccoli as my side item. The steak was cooked to perfection and the seasonings packed this 12oz of meat with so much flavor.


We were stuffed, but we couldn't leave without ordering dessert. The dessert menu is outstanding and I wish I could've tried them all, but I had to save something for next time. This Summer, Olive Garden has a new dessert called the Vanilla Panna Cotta with Strawberries. This dessert screams Summer by topping a rich and creamy vanilla custard inspired by Italy's mountainous Piedmont region with sweet Summer strawberries. It literally melts in your mouth! Of course, I had to order the Tiramisu as well and it was everything I expected it to be. They captured all that this classic dessert represents. My husband enjoyed a sample of the Castello Moscato with dessert. Perfect pairing!


The kids enjoyed their night at our local Olive Garden. They topped off their meal with Sundaes and Peach Bellini Iced Teas, which I must say, is the BEST ICED TEA I've ever had at a restaurant. We even asked for refills to go.


The West Hills Olive Garden Italian Kitchen is managed by Norma Rodriguez and let me tell you...she gets it! I say this because she knows how difficult dining out with hungry children can be. This location will take same-day reservations for any size party so you don't have to wait with restless kiddos. If you can't make it inside, but still want to enjoy their Italian cuisine, just order online and they will bring it out to your car. Now, that's service!

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I was offered a gift card in order to facilitate my review. These are just my two cents!

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