We were going to go abroad first semester junior year, but we decided to go to the Olive Garden instead. The Garden is a cultural phenomenon of which neither of us had previously partaken. The advertisements are insidious, and honestly, it was sort of daunting to review such an establishment. Neither of us are classist people, but still, the Olive Garden... we just didn't know. Sure, we had heard of endless breadsticks and pasta bowls, and Yona had even attempted to dine at the Garden on another occasion, but to no avail. Both of us were losing our Olive Garden virginity at the same time.

We arrived and were greeted by Vicki, our waitress. She kindly offered us wine to taste, and then topped off our glasses of Yellowtail ("As long as my boss isn't looking.") The truth is, after dining at the Garden, our preconceived notions had been disproved -- sort of. First of all, the never-ending pasta bowl has since transformed to the never-ending salad bowl. Second of all, the Olive Garden is not only a dinner establishment. (When we arrived at 12:30 p.m., the place was empty. By 1 p.m., booths were taken in full force.) Third of all, and perhaps most importantly, the Olive Garden is fucking classy. The wine list is winding, the bread sticks are above par and the music and vibe are awesome.

Really, the Olive Garden is a big slab of Tuscany in the center of Center City, Philadelphia. The spaghetti could use a little more flavor, but the food is pretty good. Vicki is bitchin' and her scruchie is superb. Upon reading on the menu that the Garden "proudly serves a selection of specialties inspired by our Culinary Institute of Tuscany," we are surprised, but then discover that "Olive Garden chefs train at this cooking school located at Riserva di Fizzano, an eleventh-century village in the heart of Italy's Tuscany region."

The food is good, but the atmosphere is great. The establishment may be across from a Marathon Grill, but really, this is the bomb. Honestly, the fact that we weren't the only people smoking cigarettes and chugging wine at 2 p.m. proves that the Olive Garden is the place to be on a Sunday afternoon. Also, just so you know, everything at the Olive Garden stays at the Olive Garden.


All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.