Things to Do

Bar Dough Is Becoming Olive Garden — No Joke

Gnocchi alla vodka alla Olive Garden.
Bar Dough
Gnocchi alla vodka alla Olive Garden.
April Fools' Day is coming up, which means you need to be on the lookout for tricksters — but this April 1 event is no joke. Bar Dough, the restaurant at 2227 West 32nd Avenue that serves some of the best modern Italian food in the city, is transforming into the country's best-known Italian chain, complete with chicken parm, Alfredo and (maybe) never-ending breadsticks and salad. No word on whether the Tour of Italy will make an appearance.

“Let’s just say, if you come on April 1, you won’t be disappointed,” says executive chef Russell Stippich, who wants to keep some of the OG (get it?) shenanigans under wraps until guests arrive.

The past two years have been incredibly stressful for those in the restaurant industry. Stippich was among the hospitality pros who recently shared their reflections on the pandemic with Westword as the state marked the two-year anniversary of the first indoor-dining shutdown on March 17. He'd just moved into the executive-chef role at Bar Dough when the pandemic started, and he had to help guide a brand-new-to-him team through the toughest two years the industry has ever faced.
click to enlarge
Chicken parm will be on the menu.
Bar Dough

“They have worked so hard to rise to all the challenges that the pandemic continually brought," he notes. "Now that we’re seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel as we move toward the summer, a special night that welcomes in our community that’s lighthearted and a little rowdy seems perfect.”

Stippich insists that this April Fools' event is no dig at the chain. “People love Olive Garden! Just because Bar Dough’s Italian is refined and traditional, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot in common," he says. "The core of what the Olive Garden strives for, with their guest experience, is the same as ours: We both want people to come in and relax, be well taken care of and to create memories. If anything, we’re poking a bit of fun at ourselves and how seriously we take the food we make. This night, and the weeks leading up to planning it, is a fun way for our team to blow off a little steam and have a lot of fun together.”

Reservations for the April 1 "Olive Garden" dinner are available from 4:30 to 10 p.m. on Tock. A $15 deposit per guest will be deducted from your final check.