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Eat and Drink

We tried the ultimate New York Power Lunch: Olive Garden Times Square

After accepting an invitation to enjoy the Never Ending Pasta Bowl, amNewYork was ready to dive into the Olive Garden Times Square experience.

On the upper level of Olive Garden Times Square (which currently has a lovely view of construction, crowds and police horses) on a busy Wednesday afternoon, the pre-matinee crowd sipped chocolate martinis and fruit-topped cocktails, Many seemed to be from out of town. Our server informed us that Morgan Stanley employees often came in from across the street for a quick, efficient lunch. Power Lunch was on.

In case you were unaware, Olive Garden's Never Ending Pasta Bowl offers more than 20 different choices of pastas, sauces and toppings and will keep (Magically! By your server!) refilling itself until you can't possible gorge on any more carbs.

A huge welcoming smile, and wine

New Yorkers may not be known for their
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

New Yorkers may not be known for their friendliness, but Olive Garden employees defy all stereotypes with pleasantries, a willingness to serve you quickly and the offer of free wine.

Yes, free wine!

At Olive Garden, guests are encouraged to sample a wide variety of wines from the restaurant's wine cellar. The servers offer recommendations of which wines pair well with each menu item. Or, you know, just taste them all. No charge!

Did we mention FREE wine?

Cheers to lunch!
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

Cheers to lunch!

Ah, the salad and the breadsticks

The classic Olive Garden salad is tossed
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

The classic Olive Garden salad is tossed in their signature Italian dressing and topped with freshly grated cheese -- you can tell your server to stop, or just encourage the cheese mountain that inevitably stacks up on the veggies.

And the breadsticks!

Our breadsticks sat pretty much untouched after a
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

Our breadsticks sat pretty much untouched after a sample bite, but people are (reportedly) really into them.

And bring on the pasta!

The Never Ending Pasta Bowl is perhaps the
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

The Never Ending Pasta Bowl is perhaps the quickest and cheapest way to totally gorge on pasta in all of New York City. the $9.99 price gets you more than 20 types of pasta, sauce and toppings along with salad (or soup) and breadsticks, totally unlimited until you have to roll yourself out of Times Square.

A red-sauce round: Rigatoni with the new chicken Pomodoro sauce, had a unique red pepper flavor. Combined with the soft tubular noodles, it was not our favorite dish.

Spaghetti with meat sauce and chicken meatballs

We soon discovered that none of the pasta
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

We soon discovered that none of the pasta at Olive Garden was cooked al dente, and probably could have used a little less cooking time. The spaghetti and meat sauce was a favorite though, cooked with pan-seared beef and Italian sausage and no offensive pepper ingredients, this dish was solidly slurpable spaghetti.

Cavatappi with a pesto Alfredo sauce

It's hard to go wrong with cream, though
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

It's hard to go wrong with cream, though the dish overall was bland and needed something to yield a truly rich flavor. Sliced tomatoes added a nice freshness and the cavatappi was the most fun shape of our feast.

Fettuccine Asiago Garlic Alfredo with shrimp frita

Olive Garden's signature garlic Alfredo sauce is more
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

Olive Garden's signature garlic Alfredo sauce is more creamy than cheesy, but we could eat pretty much endless amounts of it. The crispy shrimp frita topping was a bit of an odd choice, and made the fattiness of the dish overwhelming. But grilled chicken or just fettuccine all on its own is a classic choice.

And to finish: Black Tie Mousse Cake

Though we were stuffed with all the pasta
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

Though we were stuffed with all the pasta we couldn't finish, our server insisted we try dessert. Note: costs extra with the Never Ending Pasta Bowl. Never Ending Dessert is not yet an option. This decadent dessert is made up of layers of chocolate cake, dark chocolate cheesecake and creamy custard mousse, a meal in itself, really.

And so concludes the Olive Garden Power Lunch.

Try it. You won't hate us.
Photo Credit: amNY / Diana Colapietro

Try it. You won't hate us.

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