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Four new items have also been added to the Olive Garden Specialties section:

• Crab Topped Chicken is pan-seared chicken breast topped with crabmeat and served in a lemon cream sauce. It comes with spinach and garlic Parmesan mashed potatoes.

• Salmon Bruschetta is a grilled fillet topped with tomatoes and basil pesto, served with seafood risotto with crabmeat.

• Pappardelle Pescatore is sautéed shrimp, bay scallops and clams tossed with Pappardelle pasta, asparagus and tomatoes in a creamy red pepper seafood sauce.

• Mediterranean Grilled Trout is a 10-ounce fillet seasoned with basil and extra virgin olive oil. It’s served with pappardelle tossed with garlic, broccoli and tomato sauce.

Olive Garden has also added an appetizer of antipasti, comprised of hard salami, genoa salami, pepperoni and mozzarella, and a Roasted Tomato Caprese salad made with fresh mozzarella bites, roasted tomato, bell pepper, basil, kale and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

For lunch, Olive Garden has introduced a new Smashed Chicken Meatball Sandwich, with roasted bell peppers and mozzarella on a focaccia bun.

The chain has also introduced a new combination meal: The Tuscan Trio Combinations start with soup, salad and breadsticks, either the Caprese or antipasti topping, a pasta side or a small plate.

Finally, Olive Garden has added a new dessert for a limited time. The Salted Caramel Tiramisu layers caramel mousse and vanilla-soaked ladyfingers and tops it with a salted caramel crumble and chocolate shavings.

In the most recent quarter, ended Nov. 24, Darden reported that same-store sales at Olive Garden fell 0.6 percent, slowing a decline that the chain had experienced in previous quarters.

In December, Darden said it had suspended the opening of new units of the troubled chain. The company also announced intentions to spin off or sell sister chain Red Lobster.

Contact Bret Thorn: bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary