How Jonathan Gold Came To Review The Olive Garden

As an April fool’s joke, Jonathan Gold convinced his photographer Anne Fishbein that he was going to review the Italian restaurant chain. Gold had no intention of going near the place, of course. But his prank went horrible wrong, and ended with the Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic seated at a table in the Arcadia Olive Garden. And since he was there, well, might as well write it up

Olive Garden chefs now undergo rigorous training at the Culinary Institute of Tuscany, in the heart of Chianti Classico, where “they learn the key values and skills needed to remain true to the rich history of Italian cuisine.” They bring in their own chianti now, grown around an 11th-century castle called Riserva di Fizzano — the “village” name is the rough equivalent of calling an olive-oil town Extra-Vergine di Olio. They use pecorino Romano. From Italy. It’s cheese. And they were planning to remodel a certain percentage of their restaurants to resemble Tuscan country inns — Tuscan country inns of a sort that didn’t really exist until a 1980s ad campaign for digestive biscuits convinced the Italian populace that they did, but no matter.

We encourage you to read the full story, which has to be one of the most hilarious in restaurant review history.