She was pleasant and patient. She answered endless questions.

Melissa Areizaga patiently explained the use of the little black ziosks at the end of our table and how they allow our credit cards to remain on our table. They also have games and books to amuse the little people.

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Melissa is sort of a newcomer on the staff. She also is one of the best servers I have seen lately. There are about 120 full and part-time employees at the Olive Garden, according to Mark Ulrich, the manager.

I branched out when doing lunch recently with friends Susie Shaft, Sue Huus and Donna Gillig. With the promise of asparagus, tomatoes and angel hair pasta, I ordered shrimp scampi ($15.99). And I will go back for more.

Going to the Olive Garden in January stirs wild memories. It was six years ago when the restaurant opened in Grand Forks, and my review went viral.

I ended up in New York City on the Anderson Cooper show and as a guest at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. I dined at El Bernardin and met Anthony Bourdain. I was on the Today show as well as a Sunday morning show.

I thought of these things this January as I watched the servers work in the old-fashioned farmhouse setting. It has settled in well as one of the largest full scale restaurants in Grand Forks.


The Olive Garden

3160 32nd Ave. S.

Telephone: (701) 746-2038.

General Manager: Mark Ulrich.

Hours: 11 a.m. opening, 10 p.m. closing weekdays and 11 p.m. closing Friday and Saturday.

Seating: 200 in dining room and bar.

Top seller: Endless soup, salad and breadsticks ($7.49).


Report card: Olive Garden rates top grades for service as well as cheery ambience. Fireplace adds a welcome in winter. Choices seem unending. Average ticket ranges from $13 to $14 for lunch, $16 to $20 for dinner.