I've only been to the Olive Garden once, long before I went to Italy and became italian food crazed/snotty. It was in Santa Barbara. It was truly terrible. So, herein lies my very late restaurant review.
The one thing that I absolutely love at the Olive Garden is their zuppa toscana- I guess that means Soup Tuscany style or something like that in Italian.
It's a potato soup dressed up with kale and some sort of Italian sausage- depending on the chef that day - it's either more or less peppery- but for me, it's always the only sure bet at the Olive Garden which I do go to quite a lot when I'm at home in the US as there's one down the street from my parents and my father liked their seafood al fredo.
So for gifts, since he had everything he could ever use already, people would give him gift cards to the Olive Garden and we'd go out for lunch there at least once a week while I was visiting.
I made potato and leek soup the other day and I happened to have some fresh spinach I needed to use, so I threw that in at the end, after I'd seasoned and pureed the soup/potatoes. And then I remembered that I had this lincolnshire sausage in the freezer - put there because someone brought it to a pot luck cook out and it didn't get eaten. I don't like or eat sausage and I thought that my daughter would really, really like it if I tried to make the Olive Garden soup because we all have fond memories of the Olive Garden at this point (Grandpa having died recently).
So I cooked the sausage and crumbled it into the soup - and oh my goodness - what a hit it was. My daughter, her boyfriend, her best friend - now I'll have to put sausage and spinach in every pot of leek and potato soup I make.
I don't really eat sausage, so I take my soup out of the pot after the spinach and before the sausage goes in.
I didn't get the broth just like their's though. I think their's is more water-based and I use cream - yeah, real cream- as part of my potato soup broth.
(None of us are overweight or have high cholesterol - if we were, I wouldn't- it's just an extra special treat to have cream once in a while in our house- but next time I do the sausage and spinach thing in the soup - I'm going to try to see if I can replicate it more exactly by making the broth thinner).