Name: Olive Garden
Address: 4070 E. Bluegrass Road, Mt. Pleasant (Indian Hills Plaza)
Phone: (989) 772-0007
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun-Thurs; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri and Sat
Signature Dishes: It’s hard to say what classifies as “signature” since so many of their offerings are unique. All dishes are clearly Italian, ranging from the standard Lasagna Classico and Spaghetti with Meat Sauce to a more unique Shrimp Mezzaluna (ravioli filled with four Italian cheeses, tossed with sauteed shrimp and tomatoes in a white wine cream sauce). Their soup, salad and breadsticks is a popular combo, especially at lunch. The all-you-can-eat selection (available daily for $6.99 until 4 p.m.) offers a variety of delightful soups including chicken and gnocchi, minestrone, pasta e fagioli and zuppa Toscana.
Personal Favorite: Soup, salad and breadsticks is a personal favorite because you can try as many soups as you like (and I have found they’re all worth trying, though pasta e fagioli is my top pick). I also like that they offer “lighter Italian fare,” though that seems improbable. The Capellini Pomodoro (Roma tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and marinara sauce tossed with capellini) is delightfully fresh and light and can be ordered with grilled chicken or shrimp.
Atmosphere: Nicely decorated Italian theme; casual. If you’ve ever been to an Olive Garden, you’ll note the similarities, though this facility boasts some changes to interior design. Due to the layout, it can be noisy. Also very family-friendly.
Side Note: Any entree or pizza comes with Olive Garden’s delicious salad bowl or soup. The Mt. Pleasant site just opened Oct. 7, but the staff seems to be settling in well. It’s a popular spot, so plan ahead. They also offer carry-out, so you can avoid a wait for seating.
(Mid Michigan Eats is a regular monthly feature of The Laker Current and is compiled by staff writers. It is designed to spotlight some of the features and highlights of area restaurants.)