Marilyn Hagerty Of Grand Forks, N.D., Draws Attention From Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain

7:54 PM, Mar 13, 2012   |    comments
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  • Marilyn Hagerty, restaurant reviewer

 WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA)  - An 85-year-old food critic has triumphed over the snarkologists on the Internet who pooh poohed her review of the Grand Forks, North Dakota Olive Garden. Marilyn Hagerty is now on her way to one of the poshest restaurants in New York. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who can be pretty snarky himself, has secured Marilyn Hagerty a seat at the swanky Le Bernandin.

It's payback for the hundreds of thousands of internet meanies who took pleasure in knocking her rave review of the Grand Forks Olive Garden.

And here in town, Chef Enzo Febbraro's inviting her to his Bond 45 at National Harbor too.

Has the internet really become so mean that its ok for hundreds of thousands of people to make fun of an 85 year old? "This is pathetic!" says Hagerty, quoting from one of the comments on her food column in the Grand Forks Herald.

Hagerty called the Olive Garden "the largest, most beautiful restaurant in Grand Forks" -- and her earnest column went viral. "I heard it had gone viral, and I really didn't understand. So I asked Tim and he said, 'Well mother, it's like you have a virus and you're sick.'"

But maybe she's onto something about Olive Garden. "It's not bad for what it is, for what it cost," says chef Enzo Febbraro, tucking into some Olive Garden chicken scampi. "Pasta's a little too cooked for me," as he tries the shrimp primavera.

Febbraro grew up in Naples, has been head chef at some of D.C.'s hottest Italian restaurants, and now runs the upscale Bond 45 at National Harbor. "The meatball, I can tell you, it's pretty tasty."

Febbraro says Marilyn Hagerty's not so far off the mark. "Guys come on, give the woman a break!"

His pappardele alfredo's a whole lot different than the Olive Garden's. "I don't put too much cream in it. I do a vegetable puree." And it's delicious. "Fabulous. I don't miss the cream at all," I told him.

But the mark of any good restaurant is it's warm welcome -- not it's snob appeal. "Marilyn Hagerty, you can come whenever you want. I do love you very very much," Febbraro says, looking right into the camera.


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