Olive Garden

A thoroughly Americanised take on Italian food at this mall eatery
  • 2

Time Out Says

Up on the third floor of Al Wahda Mall, conveniently placed for the cinema, you might wonder how a little slice of Tuscany has slipped into Abu Dhabi, with pergolas, alcoves and plenty of greenery for added atmosphere. Head towards the back of the Olive Garden restaurant, where it opens up significantly, and the reality of where you are becomes more apparent.

Complimentary bread sticks with a drizzle of garlic arrived promptly, a sweet tasting and soft bread that was seemingly freshly prepared. Our excellent waiter told us we could choose from a free salad or homemade soup with any main course as we began to look over the menu.

After ordering our starters and main courses, the minestrone soup and salad we opted for as freebies arrived, both served with some cheese grated by the waiter at our table. The soup had plenty of flavour and the salad was fresh and crispy but quite heavy on the dressing, although we’re sure you could order that on the side if you prefer.

For our ‘proper’ starter we went for lasagna frittas, parcels of deep fried pasta on a bed of melted cheese sauce and topped with tomato. The batter was a little chewy but aside from the cholesterol guilt they were an interesting way to start the meal. We also had their ‘create your own’ starter, where you pick two half portions from a selection. Stuffed mushrooms were scalding hot, greasy and tasteless, but the small curls of calamari with a drizzle of lemon balanced things out.

Our mains arrived before we’d finished the starters, which could be seen as a good or bad thing depending on if you’re in a rush to catch a film or keep shopping. We weren’t doing either, but the sight of our large mains meant taking away unfinished starters was no problem. Equally, we could have left them there and had them as sides.

Chicken and shrimp carbonara felt a little over-the-top. The carbonara sauce was tasty on its own and didn’t need the added complication of the shrimp or chicken, which was ruined a little anyway by the flour coating that made otherwise good chicken feel mushy.

The shrimp primavera, also a pasta dish but more tomato-based, boasted a burst of flavour, but slightly heavy on garlic for some tastes perhaps.

The bread sticks, complimentary sides and heavy starters meant more unfinished plates, but the waiter was well-prepared to box these up for us.

It was a shame that we couldn’t get to the dessert menu as the zeppoli – Italian doughnuts served with chocolate sauce – looked amazing and seemed popular with the handful of remaining diners around us.
It might not be fine Italian dining, more an American take on Italian food that isn’t shy of saturated fats, but the affordable menu offers a good selection with some unusual twists and the portions will certainly fill you up. Friendly and attentive staff, who gathered for two separate ‘Happy Birthday’ serenades to celebrating diners while we were there, also help make it a decent mall dining experience.

The bill (for two)
Choose your own starter Dhs39
Lasagna fritta Dhs38
Carbonara Dhs64
Shrimp primavera Dhs64
Total (excluding service) Dhs205

By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff  | 13 Aug 2013

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Payment OptionsCash, Credit Card
Dress CodeCasuals
10:00 AM to 11:30 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM to 11:30 PMMonday: 10:00 AM to 11:30 PMTuesday: 10:00 AM to 11:30 PMWednesday: 10:00 AM to 11:30 PMThursday: 10:00 AM to 11:30 PMFriday: 10:00 AM to 11:30 PMSaturday: 10:00 AM to 11:30 PM
Show number +971 2 643 7026
Abu Dhabi, Al Wahda, Level Three, Al Wahda Mall Extension

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