TODAY   |  March 13, 2012

85-year-old’s Olive Garden critique goes viral

An 85-year-old North Dakota newspaper columnist’s review of Italian restaurant chain Olive Garden has become the latest Internet sensation. NBC’s Kevin Tibbles reports.

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>> a restaurant review by a north dakota newspaper columnist has become the latest internet sensation because the target of the 85-year-old's critique was not a posh five-star eatery but her own town's new olive garden . kevin tibbles is in grand forks where he sat down with a woman behind the article. hey, kevin . good morning.

>> reporter: hey, ann. when the olive garden restaurant opened in grand forks , local food critic marilyn haggerty said it was a big deal . she's been a mild-mannered reporter at the grand forks herald for more than three decades. at 85 years of age, she still writes five columns a week. it's her latest, a restaurant review called the eatbeat that's got the blogosphere boiling over.

>> i never thought anything like this would happen.

>> reporter: she had the audacity to opine on the new ott eatery in town -- the olive garden . the place is impressive, she wrote. it's fashioned in tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. of the food she added the chicken alfredo was warm and comforting on a cold day . and instead of the raspberry lemonade suggested by the waitress, i drank water. some on the internet questioned her taste.

>> north dakota where olive garden is king, snapped one. headlined old broad goes viral adding the city is on the culinary map with its unique brand of tuscan refinery. maryland newspapers had more than 3,000 hits and foodies are leaping to her defense including culinary bad boy anthony bourdain who tweeted watching marilyn hagerty triumph over the snarkologists. myself included.

>> reporter: may i interest you in a bread stick ?

>> indeed.

>> reporter: we decided to break bread sticks to discuss her notoriety. first her reaction to hearing eatbeat had gone viral.

>> i didn't know what a that meant. then the phone calls started, but i had to go to bridge club at 1:00.

>>> can't miss that.

>> no.

>> reporter: she has no time for the bloggers of the world.

>> sounds like dirty words . we all have different ideas of what we want to do with our time. i would rather play bridge or watch a basketball game than do that.

>> reporter: blogging.

>> yeah, blogging.

>> reporter: marilyn can dish it right back. from one reporter to another she demonstrated her technique of surreptitiously taking notes while dining and sometimes, shock, horror, she sneaks out with a menu.

>> you do what you need to do.

>> reporter: thanks to marilyn , i have had the chicken alfredo and now we know why they call it grand forks . take that, you nasty bloggers. by the way, marilyn hagerty is winging her way to new york today. she'll file her column from some of the finest eateries in the big apple . back to you.

>> terrific. our arm as are open to welcome her. that was cute, kevin . thank you