Standing up for the Neighborhood

North End restaurant owners say Olive Garden food truck not worthy of the neighborhood

North End restaurant owners’ disdain for Olive Garden is as unlimited as the chain’s breadsticks.

Olive Garden recently announced they are bringing their new breadstick sandwiches to Boston’s historic Italian neighborhood via food truck this weekend. And local restaurateurs are not lining up.

“There is nothing authentically Italian about Olive Garden,” George Mendoza, one of the owners of Monica’s in the North End, told “It’s an insult to everyone in the North End selling Italian food for more than 100 years.”

Olive Garden’s food truck will give free samples of their new sandwiches, which use their famous (or infamous) breadsticks as buns, from Thursday to Sunday at the North End Park and nearby Faneuil Hall.

Mendoza says don’t go.

“It’s like if you took a P.F. Chang’s and put it in Chinatown and passed around spring rolls,” he said.

The Italian-American chain has drawn criticism for its menu, which included Spanish tapas, burgers, and fries. A recent study found that the restaurant did not salt its pasta water, which Slate described as “a culinary crime against humanity.”

The study also found the chain’s infamous breadsticks had degraded in quality. The airy, refined flour breadsticks were compared to hot dog buns, which is perhaps fitting given their new use.

Damien DiPaola, who owns Carmelina’s and Vito’s in the North End, thinks Boston has the best Little Italy in the country and that Olive Garden is trying to exploit that.

“It’s just a publicity stunt to say they came to the North End,” he told “All these neighborhood people do it the right way, with integrity. We’ve got to support our own.”

DiPaola wished good luck to anyone who planned on trying the breadstick sandwiches and warned them of fake garlic and heartburn.

“Olive Garden has nothing Italian on their menu,” DiPaola said. “Italians don’t put three different types of pasta together, or pile protein on top of pasta with s--- sauce.”

Both DiPaolo and Mendoza agreed that the city should not have granted Olive Garden a food truck permit.

Mendoza said it was “really annoying” to have “businesses shoved in front of our doors” and said the “big business” decision contributes to a larger theme of erosion of “social culture in the American neighborhood.”

Olive Garden did not respond to request for comment.

Benedict Cumberbatch Dines at Carmelina's

Which British Star Had His First Cannoli in Boston this Weekend?

Johnny Depp isn't the only member of the Black Mass cast enjoying the food in Boston

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch headed to Boston’s Italian neighborhood, the North End, on Saturday, where he ate his first-ever cannoli. 

Cumberbatch, along with his Black Mass costars including Joel Edgerton andBreaking Bad star Jesse Plemmons, headed to the popular Modern Pastry for coffee and cannolis after dinner on Saturday evening. For his first foray into the Modern’s specialty, Cumberbatch chose a plain ricotta cannoli. 

Earlier on Saturday, Benedict and friends dined family-style at Carmelina's on Hanover Street, where they feasted on meatballs, exploding clams, asparagus baked with quail egg and shaved parmesan and black garlic beef.

"He's a great guy," said Carmelina's owner/chef Damien DiPaola, who has a small role in the film. "He's a gentleman. He was so happy to be in the North End. He loved the atmosphere." 

DiPaola said that the movie stars weren't stingy with the staff at Carmelina's, either. 

"They were excellent tippers," said DiPaola. "The staff was very happy." 

Cumberbatch has been keeping a pretty low profile in his off-hours while filming Black Mass, in which he stars as Billy Bulger, the brother of infamous Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. Last week, he was spotted hanging at the bar at Sonsie Cafe and chatting with the film's crew between takes outside the Harvard Club.