Olive Garden, the largest American-Italian restaurant chain in the US, finally opens in Manila. It is a division of Darden Restaurants (DRI) which has 900+ restaurants globally. The Philippine franchise is professionally run by The Bistro Group, known for bringing in successful American franchises like Friday’s and Denny’s.
Balikbayans and Filipinos who have been to the US love the Olive Garden brand for its wholesome ambiance and never ending soup, salad, bread, and lots of grated parmesan cheese.
Here’s what to expect from the Olive Garden flagship branch in the Philippines.
ABOUT OLIVE GARDEN
The Olive Garden flagship branch in Manila opens in Mall of Asia’s South Entertainment Mall where Italianni’s used to be located. It’s also near the Decathlon store.
On cooler nights the al fresco seating area is perfect for a Manila Sunset session while eating together with friends and family.
It is quite spacious, and there is a variety of seat options. Love the woven lights and dividers.
Reserve the booth tables for more intimate dining or the lounge sofa section for casual family style dining.
We loved the cocktails, the never-ending first course, and the Italian pasta section.
The cocktail program, including the non-alcoholic beverages, is something to look forward to.
This orange hibiscus sour, with a citrusy buzz in a Japanese garden presentation, is the best. A bit sweet though, so ask for the syrup to be served on the side to control the sweetness.
The Italian Margarita is their signature, with silver tequila and served with their signature Italian liquor on the side which you can shoot separately or mix with the margarita.
NEVER ENDING FIRST COURSE
Yes, you can just order the eat all you can soup, salad and breadsticks, which are all good and taste like the ones at Olive Garden in the US.
You can choose between the soup or the breadsticks for less than ₱100.
All the soups are quite good but our favorite is the Toscana with Italian sausage and kale. Some like the fresh minestrone soup with vegetables in a light tomato broth. The gnocchi is also good but quite filling considering you’ll still eat pasta for your main course.
This is our favorite, with crispy shrimps and fried vegetables in spicy ranch and marinara sauce. Good to share and best to eat while warm and crispy.
One of their signature appetizers. Think lasagna but in fried chunks filled with oozing alfredo sauce topped with marinara sauce and grated parmesan cheese. A bit heavy but yum.
Come with the Never-Ending First Course of Soup OR Salad and Breadsticks
All their signature pasta dishes in one plate that’s good for family sharing.
Their creamy carbonara sauce is a bit different, not as white and just light, served with shrimp and chicken on top. You can order it full portion size like the ones in the US, but the half-portions are already quite food for sharing. We loved this.
There are different variations of the alfredo pasta. Order their bestseller with chicken.
I find the first course heavy if you eat all the carbs. It’s better at times to order your main course as a protein with these parmesan-crusted zucchinis for a healthier experience.
For special occasions, you can order their sirloin steak for a meaty option.
The doughnut itself is good—soft and crusty on the outside with just a touch of vanilla sugar. You can dip them in chocolate for a satisfying finish. Order Nespresso coffee to go with the dessert.
They also have other classic desserts like strawberry cheesecake just for variety.
Overall, we love the Olive Garden Manila experience because of the never-ending first course, the overflowing grated parmesan cheese, the cocktail program, and your classic American-Italian pasta dishes. Best to order the entrees which come with the breadstick and soup OR salad options for additional ~₱200.
Our favorites would be the Hibiscus-Oh! for their cocktails, Zuppa Toscana for the soup, Shrimp Fritto Misto for the appetizer, Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara and Grilled Chicken Magherita for the mains. End with the Zeppoli and Nespresso for dessert. Budget about ₱700 head + cocktails.
This is a good place to go when you just want simple soups, salad and Italian pastas.
Congratulations to Olive Garden, Darden Restaurants group and The Bistro Group for successfully opening in Manila despite the 2 year delay because of the pandemic!
Live an Awesome Life with Christ,
Founder & Digital Creator, Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: Thank you to our friends from Bistro for the Olive Garden preview experience. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. We will try their pizza on our next visit.