Mama Mia! In an attempt to turn the nation’s largest Italian restaurant chain’s faltering revenues around, Olive Garden is introducing a whole new menu, offering pasta customization, lighter lunch options, and small plates, according to National Restaurant News.[related]
A new menu section named “Cucina Mia” will let patrons mix and match pastas and sauces for their own creation for $9.99, and add a choice of three different types of meatballs. Olive Garden is also dipping into the small-plate craze by adding the Parmesan Olive Fritta — a blend of Italian cheese and olives fried into a bite-sized pizza form. Known for its creamy sauces and cheesy pastas, Olive Garden is also trying to help diners cut back with an extended lighter fare menu for lower-calorie options.
The new menu adds a total of 20 new items to the Italian chain’s repertoire, but will it be enough? According to Yahoo Finance, Olive Garden isn’t the only fast-casual chain in trouble, as Americans nationwide are losing interest in places like Applebee’s and Friday’s, where customer interest across the board has declined over the past decade.