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Olive Garden is a casual dining American restaurant chain specializing in Italian-American cuisine. The company is owned by Darden Restaurants and is based in Orlando, Floridamarker.


The first Olive Garden was opened by General Mills on December 13, 1982, in Orlando, Floridamarker. By 1989, General Mills had opened 145 restaurants, making it one of the fastest-growing units in the company's restaurant holdings. While not a "critical success", it was popular, and its per-store sales soon matched sister company Red Lobster. The company eventually became the largest chain of Italian-themed full-service restaurants in the U.S. Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurants, Inc., which was spun off from General Mills in 1995.

, there are 700 restaurants. All Canadian restaurants have been closed except for a few in Winnipeg, Manitobamarker; Calgary, Albertamarker; Edmonton, Albertamarker; and Langley, British Columbia. (Some were converted to East Side Mario's restaurants.)

The ambiance of Olive Garden restaurants seeks to replicate an old-world Italian style, utilizing foliage in their décor, stucco walls, and background music consisting of Italian themes. Their cuisine, however, differs from authentic Italian cuisine in a number of respects. Although, for example, Olive Garden once served veal – a dish often served as an entrée in traditional Italian cooking – it has since been removed from their menus. Also, their appetizers do not include cold-cut antipasto dishes, which are a key feature of a traditional Italian meal. Their culinary identity is better described as Italian-American cuisine.

Newer restaurants are styled after a farmhouse in the town of Castellina in Chianti, Tuscany, on the grounds of the Rocca delle Macie winery. The farmhouse is home to the Riserva di Fizzano restaurant adjoining the Culinary Institute of Tuscany, which is led by executive chef Romana Neri.

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