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Olive Garden coming soon in Freehold, NJ

My gosh! I am so disappointed to find out that Olive Garden is going to be built next to Longhorn in Freehold. We have enough traffic as it is in that area. Imagine when Olive Garden comes in! Wonder who on the board ok'd it?

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  1. Always find it incomprehensible in the capital of the mom & pop Italian establishment universe that lines form outside these chain places in NJ. Whatever, same can be said about Red Lobster...

    2 Replies
    1. re: equal_Mark

      eM, that's the same thing I wonder whenever I go to Olive Garden. Don't get me wrong - I actually like some of the dishes they serve there - but it boggles my mind that the OG here is totally packed all the time when there're tons of great italian mom and pop joints everywhere here.

      I think RL is different - I don't know any mom and pop joints that are serving up anything like their Ultimate Feast. Lobster, crab, and shrimp on one plate - now that's my idea of a good time.

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      Olive Garden
      83 Weston Ct, Wayne, NJ 07470

      1. re: equal_Mark

        Bagged sauce and semi cooked pasta with prewashed salad products and unlimited bread sticks cooked from fresh frozen dough?

        I can hardly wait.

        And yet is says something about most of Jersey's home grown Italian restaurants that the parking lot at the Olive Garden is always full....

      2. Apparently OG couldn't get their way fast enough on the site of Jersey Freeze. Yeah, I heard the same thing when dining at Longhorn recently.

        Isn't the OG on Rt. 18 close enough? Much rather see a Carrabba's go in than an OG.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MarlboroMan

          I live in the Boro and stopped going to Walgreen's because I couldn't not stand that drive past the mall. Of course now I have about 10 more options for Walgreens. Can't stand it!

          1. re: mbw1024

            I don't see the traffic getting worse there except maybe during Christmas when its always a nightmare. I don't see why ANYONE in this area would go to Olive Garden when a good poriton of people living in this neighborhood are either Italian Americans or come from Brooklyn/Staten Island and know from good food. Besides, there is Dusals directly across the road which offers a "much better" option.

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            Olive Garden
            83 Weston Ct, Wayne, NJ 07470

            Dusal's
            3300 State Route 27, Kendall Park, NJ 08824

        2. That's just nasty. I'd sooner eat at a mediocre local mom and pop before swallowing that swill.

          1 Reply
          1. re: angelo04

            +1 Olive Garden is the McDonald's of Italian food. The joke is that its not even cheap.

          2. Olive Garden, PF Changs. Charlie Browns, all wildly popular. All awful.

            27 Replies
            1. re: menton1

              the venerable " mom and pop Italian[-American]" places aren't too hot either, and their food resembles Italian cooking about as much.

              1. re: menton1

                Considering the quality of chinese food in the area, I am completely baffled by anyone eating at PF Changs. I understand its popularity in areas without an asian population but around here, COME ON!!! Chains are the downfall of american cuisine.

                1. re: FoodDude2

                  I do take out from PF Changs at Freehold Raceway Mall with some regularity. I have not found an even slightly better alternative in a 10-15 minute radius (save Peking Pavilion which is somewhat similar to the cuisine at PF Changs and charges similar, if not more expensive, prices).

                  1. re: jsfein

                    How about Hunan Gourmet down Rt 9 in Manalapan or Crown Palace in Marlboro. IMO, they blow PF Changs out of the water. Not to mention that your point about price is exactly why PF Changs is not a good option. To sacrifice quality and authenticity you would expect to save in price but alas, PF Changs is just as if not more expensive.

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                    Hunan Gourmet
                    357 US Highway 9 Ste 23, Englishtown, NJ 07726

                    Crown Palace
                    8 N Main St, Marlboro, NJ 07746

                    1. re: FoodDude2

                      I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree. I am a huge fan of CP for dim sum (even though there are many on this board who are not), but as for their regular menu, I have yet to find a dish worth returning for. Have not been to Hunan Gourmet and am willing to give it a try, even though its not around the corner for quick take-out. Anything in particular you recommend? I will be sure to report back.

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                      Hunan Gourmet
                      357 US Highway 9 Ste 23, Englishtown, NJ 07726

                      1. re: jsfein

                        If you head back to CP, I highly recommend their hot and sour soup, salt and pepper shrimp, lo mein, snails in black bean sauce, spare ribs, and find most if not all of their food to be very good.

                        As for Hunan Gourmet, haven't been there in a while (was down in Miami for the last 3 years) but I remember it being very typical CNJ chinese food and imo, that is far superior to PF Changs.

                        I am assuming you must live south or west of the Freehold mall as I live north so our "local" joints are not in the same area.

                        For a more authentic chinese experience, I really enjoy some of the dishes at Shanghai Bun in Matawan and I also like the noodle dishes that I have tried at Noodle Gourmet in New Brunswick although I don't think I would call it authentic.

                        I would put both Hunan Gourmet and CP on par with Peking Pavilion and all 3 above PF Changs, which for the money doesn't cut the mustard. Its OK but there are better options for better value for the same price.

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                        Shanghai Bun Restaurant
                        952 State Route 34 Ste 6, Matawan, NJ 07747

                        Noodle Gourmet
                        43 Easton Ave, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

                        1. re: FoodDude2

                          I've been to CP in Marlboro and Middletown and have not had enjoyed either for food or service; it's been mediocre every time. Took a chance and tried take-out from the Marlboro location and found it inedible, it was so greasy.

                          PF Changs? Please ... who needs attitude from a surly teenage waiter who would rather be hanging at the mall.

                          We've done better at Panda House in Freehold. It's in the ShopRite shopping center on Rt. 9, south of the mall. The food is fresh and the service accommodating. They offer Thai selections as well.

                          1. re: tomwocat

                            Every server at every PF Changs has an attitude which you find unpleasant? I would think these people come from the same pool as those from any other restaurant.

                            1. re: tomwocat

                              Our standby is Szechuan Gourmet, Rt. 9 North in Marlboro. Consistently good, plus they have a dining room.

                            2. re: FoodDude2

                              As someone grew up in Hong Kong, I found Crown Palace is horrible by any standard. The dim sum is barely passable but the dinner dishes are inedible. I actually had a party there once and I felt horrible that I treated my friend and family to those terrible dinner dishes.
                              Thumbs up to Shanghai Bun.

                              Also, Noodle Gourmet is great. It is probably the closest thing to an authentic Hong Kong-style noodle shop as we can get here in CNJ.

                              -----
                              Shanghai Bun Restaurant
                              952 State Route 34 Ste 6, Matawan, NJ 07747

                              Crown Palace
                              8 N Main St, Marlboro, NJ 07746

                              Noodle Gourmet
                              43 Easton Ave, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

                              1. re: yCf

                                Its almost unfair to compare most asian food here to anything over in Asia. I just got back from 4 months in Japan with a 3 week stint in Thailand and I understand where you are coming from. However, CP is, imo good americanized chinese food and I enjoy their dim sum. With that, I must admit I have not been to Hong Kong so I can't compare it to authentic dim sum. CP is consistently packed with asian guests as well. Maybe you just had a bad experience.

                                With that in mind, as much as you may dislike CP, how do you feel about PF Changs?

                                1. re: FoodDude2

                                  I do not like PF Changs at all. I think it's an overrated expensive place. I thought it was an insult when the waiter came over and mixed some concoction with soy vinegar, "Chinese" mustard and some other nefarious liquid substance that I couldn't recognize. He had the galls to say that it's his favorite sauce. To me, it looked like vomit.

                                  I wonder how long it will take Chowhound to take this off.

                                  1. re: wench31

                                    ^^
                                    That was exactly what I was going to say. I have only been to PF Chang once and my wife and I just rolled our eyes when the tattooed waiter was mixing that sauce and telling us how great it was.
                                    The food, IIRC, was better than average compare to Chinese take out place.
                                    To be honest, I don't have a problem with PF Chang. They target folks that enjoy americanized Chinese food and they "package" the product in a way more appealing way than a typical chinese place and charge more for it. It obviously has it's fans, much like, Peking Pavilion which I have never tried but is intrigued by the volume of crowds every weekend.

                                    I have more of a problem with Crown Palace since they are supposed to be authentic but all their dishes are executed so shockingly poor it's almost inexcusable. I have not tried CP's americanized dishes such as General Tso's - maybe they are better at making those.

                                    1. re: yCf

                                      tats? yuck.

                                      Olive Garden and PF Changs serve very similar food to every other italian-american and chinese-american restaurant in NJ and elsewhere. but they have liquor, and quality control, and training, and standards.

                                      To hear people claim that PF Changs isn't "good chinese" is laughable, as very few places actually serve anything interesting in that respect, or good "Italian" food for that matter. where do you people eat that you think is actually notable?

                                      it's all the same, and people like these places as opposed to the local places, given they are actually interesting and pretty and clean and you can get a cocktail or a bottle of wine. I'm not sure why this is such a hard concept to grasp, especially when most of the competition is absolute garbage (which clearly is very very popular as well)

                                      -----
                                      Olive Garden
                                      83 Weston Ct, Wayne, NJ 07470

                                      1. re: tommy

                                        Well, OG and PFC bashers (moi) are not saying that the awful Chinese-style or typical red-sauce Italian is a better alternative to those chains.

                                        It's mainly that these chains pass themselves off as something they're not. Maybe they should have their own category. And yes, it's true, good Asian and good Italian restaurants are almost non existent in NJ.

                                        There are maybe a handful of authentic family run places in both of those categories, mainly in the City. The only real way to have a great Italian meal is to hop the 7:35 out of EWR to Milan or Rome. And then the problem with doing that is that you're spoiled forever, and just can't eat Italian food on this side of the pond ever again.

                                        1. re: menton1

                                          Where do you see PFC or OG passing themselves as anything?

                                          1. re: tommy

                                            From OG website:

                                            "Olive Garden’s Culinary Institute of Tuscany, located in the heart of Tuscany, Italy in a restored 11th century village, is where Olive Garden’s chefs learn the secrets of great foods in Italy - like how to combine fresh ingredients - to create authentic Italian foods that you’ll enjoy sharing with your family and friends. "

                                            PFC:

                                            "Our majestic 11 ft. tall horses grace the entrance to many of our restaurants. The horse symbolizes the original Forbidden City in China, which was built for China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi."

                                            Give me a break.

                                            1. re: menton1

                                              Man, next you're going to tell me that Ragu isn't authentic red sauce, either. lol.

                                              1. re: menton1

                                                Would seem almost worth applying to OG as a chef if they offer a stint in Tuscany as part of the training... :-)

                                                1. re: equal_Mark

                                                  equalMark's idea is the best, though. I wonder if we questioned one of the chefs at OG about the "restored village" experience what he/she would say. Now there's a claim that I have the utmost skepticism about. And, it seems from this website, that I am correct to feel that way!

                                                  http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/4/2...

                                                  Ribollita, anyone?

                                                  1. re: menton1

                                                    so now you know that there is a school/training facility there, and that they do send employees there. factual. not a lie. not pretend.

                                                    I was in Rome a few years ago, and for some reason went to the Hard Rock Cafe (for irony purposes only) for a beer, and there was a group of Americans in there (go figure), who all worked for Romano's Macaroni Grill. That company had training in Italy as well. Hopefully they ventured outside of the Hard Rock.

                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                      Get back to us here with your review of OG, please. Let me know how the Ribollita and the Cavolo Nero were.

                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                        I actually stumbled upon Riserva Di Fizzano (where OG holds its "school") a few years ago. It's a beautiful place. According to the staff there, Olive Garden just rents it out now and then.

                                                      2. re: menton1

                                                        I once worked at OG back in college. Let me say this re: the chefs, I can't say definitively whether they traveled to Italy as I never asked, but they were all from south of the border. Chances they were sent to Italy for training, imo, are below 0.

                                                        1. re: FoodDude2

                                                          I don't think it necessarily refers to the chefs that work at the restaurants. These are likely corporate chefs and management.

                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                            It's even more likely exaggerated PR for those that are impressed by such pap and have never been to Italy themselves.

                                                            As cranrob noted above, it's hardly used by OG, maybe it's a manager's award for high volume. Pretty smarmy. They could spend less money and send some chefs to Babbo, but they aren't interested in "authentic", anyway.

                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                              tommy, et al

                                                              To my understanding, OG's parent company, Darden Restaurants of Orlando, Fla (NYSE=DRI; darden.com) built a "culinary school" in Italy where it sends its chefs to learn how to cook OG style food. As for comparing OG & all the other Eye-talian wannabes with independent (i.e., mom& pop) Italian places in New Jersey, as a long time Italian who has tried hundreds of laces, I have never had food as bad as OG etc at an indi place - yes, some of it was not all that good, but none of it was all that bad.
                                                              Regards
                                                              CompareFranco

                            1. re: roro1831

                              I am sad to see Olive Garden come to this part of town, not because of the traffic but because of the fact that we STILL do not have one single neighborhood restaurant we can go. At least when Cuba was opening we had hope that it could be promising (it turned out to be the opposite), but come on, Olive Garden! By the way most "authentic " Italian food is not floating in some kind of gummy sauce. How about someone opening a great restaurant in Freehold?

                              -----
                              Olive Garden
                              83 Weston Ct, Wayne, NJ 07470

                              1. re: gailelyson

                                I love when they say "Northern Italian Cuisine". There is no such thing, however. Meaningless phrase.

                                1. re: gailelyson

                                  Have you ever tried Basile's on Rt 33 in Freehold. I'd say out of 50 meals there 45 have been good. I call it an old neighborhood stand bye.

                              2. Anyone know when and/or where there going to be letting people apply for Olive Garden?