Wait For GF Olive Garden Almost Over! Get Out Your Sweatpants

Friday brought news that the Olive Garden in Grand Forks officially has a general manager, Manvel native Donald Szutenbach.

The restaurant will open Monday, January 23. It sits where the Columbia 4 theater used to, on 32 Ave. S.

Now, I know nearly everyone who lives in the northern Red River Valley is beyond excited about the opening, but I’m not exactly.

For those who’ve actually had Italian food, this isn’t. It’s American Italian food, or fast-food Italian. Any time you add the word American to a type of food, you make it worse. American Mexican, for example. We destroyed pizza up until a few years ago when people started waking up a finding out you can actually make a good pizza for not much money.

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

When we weren’t exactly nice to Pizza Ranch, we definitely heard from those of you who are fans. But bashing Olive Garden? Uh oh. Maybe I should tread lightly.

I just don’t see the extreme attraction. I’ve heard of people driving to Fargo to chow down, usually waiting in line for a while. Waiting waiting waiting for that little disk to glow red and vibrate, signaling it’s your turn to stuff your face with breadsticks and veal scallopini.

‘Sir, why not try our new Alfredo sauce injection station. Just have a seat and we’ll hook ya’ right up. Why eat sauce when you can have it injected right into your veins! It’s much more efficient and cholestoral-inducing!’

Where were we.

Fettuccine Alredo

Don’t get me wrong, I like Italian food and have, in the past, enjoyed myself at the OG. I’m just saying, like with most anything, we could have it better. Why not support a local Italian place like Giuseppe’s in Grand Forks or Mamma Maria’s in East Grand Forks. I’ve only sampled Giuseppe’s once, but a friend says the manicotti is pretty tasty. The one time I was there it was dead, so try it out for me.

By the way, that fettucine alfredo that you love so much? It packs on 1220 calories, 75 grams of fat, 47 grams of saturated fat, and 1350 milligrams of sodium. Maybe just the lunch portion?

And that soup and breadsticks you just can’t have enough of? 26 grams of fat in the “Garden-Fresh” salad and 1930 milligrams of sodium. Breadsticks are OK, if you only have a few. They come in at 150 calories and 400 milligrams of sodium.

The food is most likely prepared in advance and heated when it’s ordered. I have no official experience to back that up, but it is what many chains do to make sure the same quality is seen across the board and also to make preparation simple.

Quality Italian food should be made with fresh ingredients, from scratch and made to order.

The restaurant will no doubt bring some business to the area south of Columbia Mall. The old Grizzly’s location will soon be booming with a Noodles and Company and an Erbert & Gerbert sandwich shop. Add the new Scheels location in the old Target space and it will be busy, to put it lightly.

If you feel differently than me, and you likely do, leave a comment and let me know what you like at the Olive Garden. Maybe I’ll give it a try. A review should come soon.

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