Olive Garden unveils new ‘Tastes of the Mediterranean” menu

Olive Garden Tastes of the Mediterranean Menu

I had the opportunity to attend a special preview tasting of Olive Garden‘s new ‘Tastes of the Mediterranean’ menu this week at a lovely event held at Haven’s Kitchen in NYC with a group of other food bloggers, writers and journalists.

Media Preview Haven's Kitchen

Olive Garden Team

We sampled a (generous!) variety of delicious food and wine, and learned more about the new menu ideas and inspiration from the Olive Garden team and Executive Chef, Jim Nuetzi

Olive Garden Tasting Event

Inspired by the flavors of Italy’s Mediterranean Coast, Olive Garden is evolving its popular Lighter Italian Fare menu to the new ‘Tastes of the Mediterranean’ menu, which celebrates the flavors and cooking styles from the popular Mediterranean region of Italy with all entrees under 600 calories.

Chicken Margherita

Beginning Jan. 2, two new entrees – Chicken Margherita and

Linguine Di Mare

Linguine di Mare – will be available in restaurants. Following, the fully evolved ‘Tastes of the Mediterranean’ rebranded menu section, which includes guest favorites as well as the new entrees, will be introduced on Jan. 23.

Executive Chef Jim

“Healthier dishes at restaurants can often be perceived as boring or unsatisfying. However, our Mediterranean-inspired Shrimp Scampi with its flavorful ingredients was our second most popular entrée on the entire menu last summer,” said Jim Nuetzi, Executive Chef for Olive Garden. “The positive reaction from our guests further showed that we could create indulgent and craveable entrees that just happen to have the added benefit of lower calorie counts.”

Shrimp Scampi

The guest-favorite Shrimp Scampi, which was introduced to the Olive Garden menu last year, has exceeded any other Olive Garden lighter fare entrée in popularity. Many guests were surprised that the flavorful and satisfying dish was only 500 calories.

Grilled Chicken Parmigiana

The guest reaction to the Shrimp Scampi inspired chefs to explore additional ingredients that would excite guests in the same way, leading them to the cuisine of Italy’s Mediterranean coast. The region is long known for healthier lifestyles and cooking with light, flavorful ingredients such as seafood, olive oil, fresh vegetables, whole grains and Italian spices.

Chicken Margherita & Zucchini

Chicken Piccata

Herb Grilled Salmon

The ‘Tastes of the Mediterranean’ menu features:


  • NEW! Chicken Margherita: Grilled chicken breasts topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil pesto and a lemon garlic sauce. Served with parmesan crusted zucchini.


  • Shrimp Scampi: Shrimp sautéed in a garlic sauce, tossed with asparagus, tomatoes and angel hair pasta.


  • NEW! Linguine di Mare: Shrimp and mussels sautéed with homemade pomodoro sauce and whole grain linguine.


  • Herb-Grilled Salmon: Filet grilled to perfection and topped with garlic-herb butter. Served with parmesan-garlic broccoli.


  • Chicken Piccata: Grilled chicken topped with a lemon garlic butter sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and capers. Served with parmesan crusted zucchini.

Olive Garden Tilapia Piccata

  • Tilapia Piccata: Delicate white fish baked in a lemon garlic butter sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and capers. Served with parmesan crusted zucchini.

Entrees on the rebranded menu start at $14.29.

Warm Chocolate Baci Cake

And last but not least, we enjoyed a gorgeous dessert, Warm Chocolate Baci Cake with coffee..simply divine. 

Olive Garden

..and got some take home goodie bags with a bottle of wine and some wine glasses!



Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 800 restaurants, more than 96,000 employees and more than $3.8 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), which owns and operates more than 1,500 restaurants that generate over $6.8 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 150,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. Olive Garden is committed to making a difference in the lives of others in the local community. As part of this commitment, Olive Garden restaurants have donated more than 35 million pounds of food to local community food banks across the country.

Guests can join the conversation and connect with Olive Garden at Facebook.com/OliveGarden, Twitter.com/OliveGarden and Instagram.com/OliveGarden. For more information and to find your nearest Olive Garden restaurant, visit OliveGarden.com.

Bubbly and Bacon :: Barmarche, Nolita

Barmarche, Nolita
Barmarche, Nolita

Last week I was looking for a fun place to go for happy hour with some friends, particularly one with some food and drink specials that didn’t look like a college fraternity party just swooped in with beer and peanut shells on the floor. I found Barmarche, a lovely little fusion place on the corner of Spring Street and Elizabeth Street in the heart of Nolita.

Barmarche Interior
Barmarche Interior

When we arrived around 5 pm, it was still a bit early so the place wasn’t crowded at all. The waiter immediately greeted us and offered the best seat in the house at a corner nook near the window. The interior was impressive with its crown moldings around the bar and windows, its antique chandeliers and whitewashed tin ceilings – almost a bit fancy for my taste, but charming all the same. The tables were donned with small votive candles, and the music and dim lights gave it a cozy, romantic ambiance – like the bistros you would find on the streets in Paris.


The happy hour drink menu had a great selection of $6-7 wines, bubbly and cocktails, and offered a variety of Italian, French, Mediterranean and Mexican small plates to choose from.

Bacon Hummus
Bacon Hummus

We shared the bacon hummus which was absolutely delicious – smooth and creamy, topped with chunky bacon and whole chickpeas, lemon and parsley, served with a side of homemade crispy tortilla chips. (It tasted a whole heck of a lot better than the picture looks too – the lighting wasn’t ideal for shooting!)

Popcorn Shrimp w/ Chipotle Aioli
Popcorn Shrimp w/ Chipotle Aioli

The popcorn shrimp was nice too – it came out steaming hot with a crispy, light batter (similar to tempura) and was served with a spicy chipotle aioli for dipping on the side. More nibbles on the menu included mixed olives, charcuterie and cheese, spicy guacamole, salads and calamari. If you want more of a meal for happy hour, they also offer shrimp or bass taquitos or a classic grass-fed beef cheeseburger and frites. The dinner menu offers the same small plates and salads but with a larger selection, and also includes entrees such as Truffle Shrimp Risotto, Roast Chicken, Rib Eye Steak and Frites, or Mediterranean Branzino served over sauteed greens.

Barmarche bar
Barmarche bar

Overall I was pleased, but think it might be a nicer place for a romantic dinner or cocktail brunch on the weekend than for happy hour with friends.

Cocktail Brunch
Cocktail Brunch

Barmarche is open for brunch from 10 am to 4 pm on weekends, mid-day from 4 pm to 6:30 pm on weekends, happy hour from 5 pm to 6:30 pm everyday (except Saturday), and dinner from 6:30 pm – 11:30 pm Sunday through Thursday and through 12:30 am on Friday and Saturday.

View the happy hour menu.

View the dinner menu.

Make a reservation online.

14 Spring Street  (at Elizabeth St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 219-2399



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