Is Olive Garden Really Italian?

Last updated on July 7th, 2024

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From its beginning, Olive Garden has experienced growth as a restaurant. Fans of the pasta enjoy their food, providing the company with high sales throughout the year.

Almost every large town you visit will have an Olive Garden. It is a great place for family and friends to get together for a meal or for a couple to spend a date night eating some fantastic food. 

Those who are celebrating birthdays, graduations, or anniversaries will often choose Olive Garden as their destination for a good meal. Offering good prices and a casual dining atmosphere, Olive Garden serves readily available and affordable Italian food. 

With its spaghetti and meatballs and Tuscan-style decor, you may think of Olive Garden as an Italian restaurant, but is that really what it is?

Olive Garden is not an authentic Italian eatery but rather an American-Italian restaurant.

Most would consider their food to be Italian but with knowledge of authentic Italian cuisine you will realize that it is actually made with an American twist.  Although food served in Italy does consist of many pastas, Olive Garden’s is more Americanized. 

Italian dishes are somewhat different from what this restaurant serves. For example, if you order the fettucini alfredo at Olive Garden, this can be compared to the italian dish which is made up of casarecce pasta, bacon, pistachio, cream, and burrata cheese. 

Authentic Italian food won’t taste exactly like what you are used to. It’s actually somewhat different than your favorite Olive Garden dishes. Real Italian food will taste and look different than what you are used to but this is because Olive Garden is an American-Italian restaurant. 

When you go to Olive Garden you are eating the American version of Italian food. In Italy, pasta and meat portions are served separately and seafood or just a small amount of meat is distributed in the sauce. 

Still, Olive Garden is a good place to eat. They have a friendly and comforting atmosphere at their restaurants and delicious food. 

Why Is Olive Garden Not Real Italian Food? 

So, Olive Garden isn’t real Italian food. When you are eating at one of their restaurants you may think you are experiencing an Italian eatery, when in reality you aren’t. 

Why is Olive Garden not real Italian food?

The main reason that Olive Garden doesn’t serve real Italian food is time. It is much faster to make and serve Americanized versions of pasta dishes than to make authentic Italian. 

If Olive Garden was to serve real Italian food instead of the Americanized version they would have to increase their prices dramatically as they wouldn’t be able to serve as many people. 

Authentic Italian food is somewhat different from the food that Olive Garden serves to its customers. The restaurant is not designed to be authentic Italian but is actually an American-Italian food chain.

If you were to have an authentic entree that is served in the country of Italy you would probably be eating Melanzane di Parmigiana, a dish with a layer of grilled eggplant with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese. 

That dish is baked in the oven and pleasing to your taste buds. 

Another Italian food is Chicken Cacciatore. This dish is chicken thighs bakers in tomato sauce. It seems that the best Italian dishes only use a few ingredients but ones that are high-quality ingredients to make up their delicious meals. 

As you can see, Olive Garden’s dishes are more American. Each of their entrees cater more toward an American version of the dish. This is because their food isn’t real Italian. 

Does Olive Garden Send Chefs To Italy?

So, Olive Garden isn’t real Italian food. But it has been said that their chefs train in Tuscany. Does Olive Garden send their chefs to Italy?

Olive Garden does send some of their chefs to Olive Garden’s Culinary Institute of Tuscany in Italy for training. However this is not true for all of their cooks. 

One of Olive Garden’s employees stated, “Every year, more than 200 managers and team members travel to Olive Garden’s Culinary Institute of Tuscany. This trip is designed to immerse team members in the Italian culture while learning about the cuisine and interacting with Olive Garden’s overseas partners, the wineries and pasta makers we consider to be a part of Olive Garden’s extended family.” 

Every year managers of Olive Garden can go on a trip to Italy to learn about their food. It has been said that they are sent to an Olive Garden culinary institute in Tuscany that was created in 1999. However, some say there is no institute but rather time is spent at a local restaurant there in italy. 

Whatever the case, chefs have an opportunity to go to the brand’s inspiring place to learn about the food there. So even though the restaurant’s food isn’t authentic, they provide their employees a way to learn about the local herbs and some cooking school experiences in the country of Italy.

Where did Olive Garden Originate?

Since Olive Garden is an American-Italian eatery, where do you think it started? If you said America you are correct. But where is the origin of the famous restaurant?

The American-Italian restaurant of Olive Garden originated in Orlando, Florida.

Olive Garden started in 1982 as part of General Mills, Inc. Its origin all began in Orlando, Florida. 

Olive Garden’s stores were independently owned and started growing rapidly. By the year 1989 there were 145 Olive Gardens. 

People loved their food and their popularity grew, eventually matching the sales of their sister company Red Lobster. General Mills then spun off its restaurants as a stand alone company, Darden Restaurants in 1995. 

Over time, Olive Garden became the largest chain of Italian-themed restaurants in the U.S. Olive Garden is an American-Italian restaurant and their food is somewhat different that what people would actually eat in Italy. 

Their food is made fresh and enjoyed by many customers all over the nation.

Final Thoughts

So, Olive Garden is not real Italian food. Authentic Italian food is somewhat different from what they serve at the restaurant. But Olive Garden isn’t supposed to be an authentic Italian eatery but rather one with an American twist. 

This American-Italian restaurant still serves good food that satisfies their customers. If you are wanting real Italian food opt for an authentic restaurant. If you want an Americanized version of Tuscany entrees, then Olive Garden is a great place to eat. 

Offering their customers many types of pasta and dishes along with some of their famous never ending warm and soft breadsticks with soup or salad, this restaurant is favorite for many regardless of if it is real Italian food or not.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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