Olive Garden. American-Italian family style

Olive Garden is a welcome addition to the Dubai restaurant scene. It is a mid-sized American-Italian concept that has a friendly ambience, warm and friendly staff and service, and good food overall. The location is easy to find, parking not impossible, and it presents excellent value for your food dirham. We went there on Friday, early, for lunch, and the place was packing up quickly.

Every main dish comes with either unlimited soup or fresh garden salad. And delicious, soft, unlimited fresh-off-the-oven and melt-in-your-mouth garlic bread sticks. This is typical Italian style soft bread stick – not the crusty French kind, so don’t compare. Go easy on these complimentary sides, or you’ll probably not be able to finish your mains. Because the portions are very generous (American sized, if you get what I mean).

Two of us (sadly) ordered our favorites – meaning we both had the Chicken Parmigiana. The chicken breasts are parmesan breaded and fried and topped with a marinara sauce and a healthy dose of Parmesan and Romano cheeses. The sauce was tangy and fresh tasting, and didn’t seem like can-opened. The dish came with just-right spaghetti. I was just wishing that the yummy breaded and fried chicken wasn’t so completely covered by sauce, as Chicken Parmigiana done perfect is really a fine balance between the crunchy bits of the chicken and the subtle taste of the sauce. This was good though, not complaining.

One of us had the Chicken Scampi which was delicious. The scampi was really tender chicken breasts sautéed with vegetables and roasted garlic served in a cream sauce and served over super fine angel hair pasta.

For sides, I had the soup on offer, which was light and rich at the same time and packed with taste. My family had the salad, and I must admit, it was probably the best part of the meal. The salad was crisp, presented well, and the best part was the juicy pickled peppers that came with the fresh lettuce and tomatoes – the pepper was zesty and delicious and so typically Italian. The house dressing was very tangy, so for the second serving of salad we asked our waiter to hold the dressing. The salad without the dressing was delicious nonetheless.

Service was attentive and prompt, and the dishes we ordered came out fairly quickly. Refreshed servings of salads was just as prompt. Our waiter (Mohan) was friendly and eager to please, and always ready to help in case we wanted something. He was generous with the freshly grated cheese on anything we wanted. From the time we walked in to check out, our experience was good. We would go back, for sure, and try some of the other dishes on the menu, and there’s plenty of that. And yes, they do treat you like family. Italian style.