- Olive Garden has new “Italian nachos” on the menu.
- People’s reactions are mixed – they’re hardly Italian, but the idea is strangely intriguing.
- Amazingly, they’re weirdly tasty and not as gross as expected.
Olive Garden is continuing its storied tradition of, well, redefining Italian cuisine with its debut of loaded Italian nachos.
Wait … nachos? From Olive Garden? Yes, yes. A month into 2018 and its absurdities are just now beginning to unfold.
Olive Garden added these “nachos” to the menu last week, and they will be available until April 1 – a sort of drawn-out pre-April Fool’s joke, we can only assume.
The dish consists of fried lasagna sheets playing the role of chips – an interesting choice for an understudy, to say the least. Heaped atop them are cheese, a three-meat ragu, peppers, and a drizzle of alfredo sauce.
It’s an audacious, pugnacious, and ostentatious move for a chain most beloved and reviled for its decidedly and unabashedly Americanized takes on Italian culinary tradition.
We managed to grab some in order to see just how crazy these “nachos” are, and more importantly, to find out if they’re any good.
Only something this awesome (“awesome,” as in “awe-inspiring and terrifying”) could make a trip to Times Square, where the nearest Olive Garden is, worth it for a New Yorker. Alas, we do what we must …
… as does Olive Garden. And they are charged with the task — nay, duty — to fearlessly experiment with the culinary traditions of the Italian peninsula and bring to us their discoveries and creations.
Lo and behold, here they are. Fried squares of lasagna pasta sheets, slathered in a ragu, smothered in mozzarella and parmesan, dotted with cherry peppers, and drizzled with Alfredo sauce.
While some nacho purists may decry the “nacho” moniker, for all intents and purposes, they seem pretty similar.
The main difference is the geographic roots of the flavours. These hail from the sunny Aegean and Mediterranean seas, while the original nachos supposedly began on the Texas-Mexico border.
The crazy thing is that … they’re kind of good.
The chips hold up remarkably well, staying crispy even after nearly 20 minutes in an Olive Garden to-go container. They have the crisp and taste of fried wonton sheets, unlike nachos, which often rely on salty tortilla chips. Here, the salt comes from the parmesan cheese, which melds with mozzarella in a balanced middle ground of cheesy richness.
The ragu — with sausage, chicken, and beef — is a tiny bit sweet, but not to the point of concern. The cherry peppers are the Italian twist to nachos’ typical jalapeños, and they add a nice clean heat and crisp, acidic bite that helps cut down the savoury lavishness of the sauce.
Incredibly, they’re … good. All thoughts on the massacring of traditional Italian cooking aside, they taste delicious without being overwhelming. And even so, perhaps part of their draw is the age-old allure of the taboo: Italian nonnas the world over may be shaking their heads, but it’s wickedly good.
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