We die a little inside each time a reader sends a message to Restaurantarama asking why Charlottesville doesn’t have one of these chains, but hey, at least it gives us a mission to raise your restaurant expectations. And here we’ll try again: Despite what the advertisers tell you people over and over and over again on the TV, you are not “family.” The OG does not know you from Adam. The last time we researched this topic, the OG’s corporate parent company in Florida, which also owns Red Lobster and several other chains, had no discernable plans to open an Olive Garden here. The closest one is 70 miles away in Lynchburg, and that should be more than O.K. with you. Unlimited, mass produced salad? Breadsticks so impossibly standard in size they must come off a conveyor belt before they are frozen, packaged and sent off to one of 10 gazillion locations around the country and Canada?
O.K., O.K., it’s actually only 653—but you get the idea. No thank you! Maybe it’s just that you haven’t read our dining guide thoroughly enough to see that there are 34+ Italian restaurants and pizza parlors around this town. Ragazzi’s even offers “all-you-can-eat” house salad and breadsticks. And these homegrown Italian eateries, many with prices that rival those at OG, are owned by people who actually live here. You might be neighbors. Hell, you might even be family.