Our 6th most-read article of 2023.

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Originally published August 21, 2023.

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Welcome to Mary Oliver Garden, home of Italian-adjacent cuisine and poignant observations about the human condition as it intersects with the natural world.

As you can tell from our name, we invite you to step across the threshold of ordinary life into a world of exquisite writing, spiritual luminescence, and fried lasagna.

My name is Blair, and I’ll be your server today. To start, I have just one question: What will you do with your one wild and precious appetizer Toasted ravioli? Excellent choice. That’s one of my faves—a tender prayer of cheese embraced by crispy breadcrumbs, bringing gentle solace amid what nourishes us.

What about drinks? At Mary Oliver Garden, you can select from our wide array of poet-inspired cocktails, like the Mary-garita or a gin martini with Olivers. Or try our current special, an Intentional Dirty Martini (With Actual Dirt, Because Soil Is a Blessing). Alternatively, I can place a small glass of ice on the table so you can consider the wonder of frozen water, like two blue herons hunkered in overgrown cattails, contemplating their next meal.

Speaking of meals, have you decided on your entree? As Mary Oliver once wrote, “Eat bread and understand comfort,” which we have interpreted as “Carbs make-a the people happy.” That’s why we serve 27 types of pasta, including chicken alfredo, seafood alfredo, and my personal favorite, Alfredo’s alfredo. Imagine tortellini gathered like an armful of delicate white blossoms in springtime, slathered in a creamy sauce. It is the world offering itself to you in the form of pillow-like morsels. A stuffed invocation.

But that’s not all. These long and joyful days of summer call for sustenance, like chicken carbonara, shrimp scampi, and a long list of items followed by the word “Classico.” Whatever you choose, you do not have to be good, you do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. Just give me a shout.

Keep in mind that in addition to our never-ending pasta bowls, Mary Oliver Garden is famous for our bottomless salad and endless soup, so don’t be shy about getting seconds. As we like to say, “Are you eating just a little and calling it a life?” Dig in.

If you need another suggestion, I recommend letting the soft, warm animal of your breadstick love what it loves. (And what it loves is to be dipped in minestrone.)

After your orders arrive, we urge you to indulge with gusto. And definitely don’t tell any lawyers that we are using Mary Oliver’s wholesome reputation and inspirational words for commercial gain.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely (but we hope you are hungry), this restaurant offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting (check out our innovative mocktail menu) over and over announcing your place: when you are here, you are in the family of things.

Care for any freshly grated parm?