Menu items such as pastachetti and soffatelli “are rooted in the Italian inspiration our chefs draw from when developing these dishes,” says an Olive Garden spokesperson. But will you find them in Italy, or a Little Italy, or any Italian cookbook? Not a chance.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Olive Garden customers haven’t reacted well to dishes that are too “culinary forward,” with “gourmet ingredients” and unfamiliar names. Now, rather than continue rolling out menu items like soffatelli and pastachetti—the latter is a modified lasagna, and Olive Garden more or less says it just made up the names of both—the restaurant is taking a back-to-basics approach. The latest promotions will highlight dishes such as “ravioli.”
What’s interesting is that the Olive Garden is saying sales have been poor because recently introduced menu items are unfamiliar with customers—but how could anyone be familiar with dishes that the chain just made up out of the blue?
By expecting diners to dig into dishes mainly because they have authentic-sounding names, Olive Garden marketers seem to be under the impression that the people who eat at the Olive Garden won’t know any better.