The idea behind Olive Garden's new look is to make the restaurant look and feel more like having dinner in a Tuscan village.
"All guests of the newly remodeled restaurants will find an updated interior décor including new window treatments, hand-painted pottery, tables, chairs and booths inspired by the warm, rustic tones and design elements of a farmhouse in Tuscany," read the emailed press release.
So our objective on Wednesday was to see if they hit the mark.
Our Olive Garden feels brand new and classier with lots of wood paneling. They've added more booths, which my hostess said was part of making the restaurant more comfortable.
It's difficult to judge whether or not it reminds me of a farmhouse in Tuscany.
I think chain restaurants in general end up being slightly underrated by the collective voice of the foodie herd. I'm not going to say Olive Garden is the best Italian restaurant in our town. But it's consistent. We dined on calamari, portobello ravioli and chicken parmesan along with the usual salad and bread sticks. It was good, which wasn't surprising.
At the end of our visit, I was struck by nostalgia as our Olive Garden will forever be remembered by me as the place where my usual lunch bunch dined after church for pretty much every Sunday that I was in town from 1995 to about 2003.
And whether or not it feels like a farmhouse in Italy, that's a pretty good distinction.