Boneless delight: Chianti Braised Short Ribs Image Credit: Abhishek Sengupta/XPRESS

Dubai: Italian restaurants in Dubai, like their Chinese counterparts, often run the risk of getting lost in the crowd unless they deliver something out of the ordinary. Not the Olive Garden that formally opened last week on Shaikh Zayed Road. Their American touch in the menu not only makes their brand of Italian more appealing but also gives it a rich, cheesy (literally) indulgence hard to resist.

Take their clam and cheese (Parmesan, Romano and mozzarella) stuffed mushrooms or their lightly breaded and fried calamari served with a fabulous Parmesan-peppercorn dip and marinara sauce. I had a taste of both, along with two truly American-style chicken fingers, with the dips in what they call a Sampler Italiano (Dh56) and loved it all, particularly the mushrooms that were coated in herb breadcrumbs and delectably baked in mushroom caps.

There were more mushrooms in their Chianti Braised Short Ribs (Dh89) next. The boneless beef shortribs, slow cooked in a dark Chianti sauce, was juicy and tender but what made it a top draw was the Portobello mushroom risotto served alongside.

The day’s cheese burst, however, continued with what they call a Tour of Italy (Dh56) comprising homemade lasagna, breaded chicken parmigiana and creamy Fettuccine Alfredo. It was a dish that truly summed up the Olive Garden experience. The chicken was at its crunchy best but it was the lasagna – made of layers of pasta in meat sauce and mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and Romano cheese – that made all the difference.

The best thing though is the unlimited soup (Dh18) – a classic Italian Minestrone made of vegetables, beans and pasta in a light tomato broth and a deliciously thick chicken and gnocchi cream soup plus a garden-fresh salad in signature Italian dressing that comes with main courses, absolutely free!

All tucked in, I left with a promise to come back only for their pizzas and desserts next. That should be another story for another time.


Lunch for two: Dh250 (approximately)

Location: Shaikh Zayed Road, Opp. Times Square Mall

Timing: 11am-1am

Bookings: 04-380 6027