"We've got more lunch choices than ever starting at $6.99," reads the Italian chain's web page. "Choose one of 40 lunch combinations, like our classic Soup, Salad and Breadsticks. Or choose from a variety of sandwiches, calzones or the new Italiano burger. Served with your choice of unlimited soup or salad and fresh-baked breadsticks."
The choices of soup are Chicken Gnocchi, Pasta e Fagioli, Minestrone and Zuppa Toscana. The Chicken Gnocchi is a creamy chicken and dumpling soup with spinach. The Pasta e Fagioli is a savory broth with white and red beans, ground beef, pasta and tomatoes--try it, you won't be disappointed. It's one of my favorites. The Minestrone is beans, pasta and vegetables in a light tomato broth, and is vegetarian. The Zuppa Toscana is "Spicy sausage, fresh kale and russet potatoes in a creamy broth," according to the menu. It sounds worth a try.
There are eight lunch choices, including two new options. The lunch choices are the new Italiano Burger, the new Sausage and Peppers Sandwich, the Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich, the Signature Meatball Sandwich, the Shrimp Scampi Fritta Sandwich, the Spicy Shrimp Scampi Fritta Sandwich, the Chicken Alfredo Calzone and the Pizzaiola Calzone.
So what are these? According to Olive Garden, the Italiano Burger is "crispy Italian prosciutto, fresh mozzarella cheese, arugula and marinated tomatoes with a garlic aioli spread." In other words, ham, cheese, greens and tomatoes on a bun served with Parmesan garlic fries. The Sausage and Peppers Sandwich is bell peppers and Italian sausage with melted Italian cheeses and a zesty marinara sauce, alsos served with fries. The Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich is fried Parmesan-breaded chicken breast topped with Italian cheeses and marinara sauce and served with fries. The Signature Meatball Sandwich is Sicilian meatballs served with alfredo and marinara sauces and topped with Italian cheeses. It is served with fries as well. The Shrimp Scampi Fritta Sandwiches, whether classic or spicy, are crispy fried shrimp with either a garlic and white wine butter sauce, or a spicy cherry pepper sauce, topped with arugula and marinated tomatoes. You guessed it--they're served with fries. The Chicken Alfredo Calzone is a handmade calzone stuffed with grilled chicken, spinach, Italian cheeses and a parmesan cream sauce. The Pizzaiola Calzone is a handmade calzone stuffed with Italian sausage, pepperoni and marinara.
Is the deal worth it? Absolutely. It's a filling meal and it's an affordable price. The Italiano burger sounds interesting, and my first impression was "If I wanted a burger I wouldn't go to Olive Garden." While Subway has an excellent 6-inch meatball sub for $2 all December, Olive Garden's might be worth a try. As we say in my family, "You get what you pay for." The Sausage and Peppers Sandwich reminds me of the state fair food of a similar name, while the Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich sounds intriguing. The Calzones are probably worth it. Ultimately, it's up to you.. With 40 different combinations, you're bound to like something.