Crusted, Grilled and Smoked: Olive Garden's New Menu Items Boast Layers of Flavor Through Time-Honored Cooking Techniques

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Throughout generations, Italian chefs have enhanced the flavors of fresh ingredients by using time-honored culinary techniques such as crusting, grilling, smoking and layering to create the most memorable meals. Applying these cooking methods, Olive Garden introduces four innovative dishes to its new menu on July 4.

Throughout generations, Italian chefs have enhanced the flavors of fresh ingredients by using time-honored culinary techniques such as crusting, grilling, smoking and layering to create the most memorable meals. Applying these cooking methods, Olive Garden introduces four innovative dishes to its new menu on July 4.

The new menu items are Parmesan Crusted Tilapia, Grilled Chicken Spiedini, Smoked Mozzarella Fonduta and Five Cheese Ziti al Forno.

“With Italy as our inspiration, we’re always exploring new ways to turn fresh and simple ingredients into dishes that are bursting with texture, color and flavor,” says John Caron, executive vice president of marketing for Olive Garden. “Using a variety of traditional cooking techniques, these dishes showcase some exciting and authentic new flavors that will really delight our guests.”

Crusting, or the coating of meats and vegetables, adds contrasting texture, enhances flavor and seals in moisture. Olive Garden’s Parmesan Crusted Tilapia marries the flavors of one of Italy’s most well-known, traditional cheeses with a delicate white fish. Parmesan Crusted Tilapia is served over angel hair pasta tossed in a light garlic-butter sauce, with fresh Italian vegetables. Bertani Due Uve, a crisp and refreshing blend of Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, pairs exceptionally well with this dish.

In Italy, as in America, summer is marked not only by the change in weather, but by the start of the grilling season. Italian meats, sausage and chicken, often marinated in fresh, seasonal herbs, garlic and olive oil, are found on the grill at family celebrations and ristoranti throughout the country. Olive Garden brings that signature cooking technique of summer to its new Grilled Chicken Spiedini, which is available on the lunch menu. Skewered chicken, marinated in Italian herbs and extra-virgin olive oil, is served with Tuscan potatoes and grilled seasonal vegetables. Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay, a smooth, medium-bodied wine with apple, pear and citrus flavors, is a refreshing complement to Grilled Chicken Spiedini.

Olive Garden’s Culinary Institute of Tuscany and Riserva di Fizzano restaurant in Italy serve as the inspiration for many dishes on Olive Garden’s menu, including Smoked Mozzarella Fonduta. Always popular in Italy and now gaining popularity in America, smoked flavors are defined by cooking times. The longer the smoking process the more intense the taste. A shorter smoking time produces the light, natural flavor found in Olive Garden’s Smoked Mozzarella Fonduta. This appetizer is a blend of oven-baked smoked mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and is served with fresh Tuscan bread. The lightly sweet and crisp Beringer PVS White Zinfandel is a great contrast to the smoky flavors in the fonduta.

Classic, simple and very Italian describe Olive Garden’s Five Cheese Ziti al Forno. The flavors of this dish begin with an authentic, flavorful Italian tomato-based sauce made from scratch in Olive Garden restaurants every day. Ingredients are layered, or added in cooking stages, to build flavor. Olive Garden’s Five Cheese Ziti al Forno is made with ziti pasta tossed with the tomato sauce and layered with popular Italian cheeses including herbed ricotta, Parmesan, Romano, fontina and mozzarella, then baked slowly in the oven. The bold flavors of this celebrated dish call for a robust wine such as Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva.

”We started with traditional ingredients and techniques, then paired them in new and exciting ways, such as the combination of the tilapia and Parmesan cheese or the fonduta with the savory flavor of our smoked mozzarella,” says Terry Stanley, senior vice president of culinary and beverage for Olive Garden. “The result is distinctive, new dishes that also capture the essence of Italian cuisine.”

In addition to the new menu, Olive Garden guests can also enjoy two new limited-time Olive Garden Culinary Institute of Tuscany-inspired entrées from July 4 through August 28. Perfect for summer, Grilled Lemon-Herb Chicken is a delicious dish of grilled rosemary and herb-marinated chicken, angel hair pasta tossed in a garlic lemon-herb sauce, and fresh, seasoned Italian vegetables. Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio is an excellent wine to pair with this dish. Garlic Shrimp Limone is made with large succulent shrimp sautéed with garlic and sun-ripened vegetables then tossed with angel hair pasta in a lemon garlic-herb sauce. A perfect wine to complement this dish is Montevina Pinot Grigio.

Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with 563 restaurants, 70,000 employees and more than $2 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI), the world’s largest casual dining company. For more information, visit Olive Garden’s Web site at http://www.olivegarden.com.

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Katie Lennon
Pierson Grant Public Relations
954-776-1999 240
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