Scary Gary (12/25/09)

Coincidentally, one of the first presents I received this year was a gift card for the Olive Garden. It’s been years since I’ve set foot in that particular restaurant, given that I shy away from national chains in favor of locally owned eateries. My favorites range from neighborhood pizza joints and storefront taquerias to hip bistros and smokey stakehouses, all of them sharing an authenticity that can’t be replicated by franchisees. That said, I’m not above the pleasures of a mass-produced crowd-pleaser like Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits, and I’m eager to judge whether the Olive Garden can produce any similar knockout dishes of its own.

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