A virtual genuine Italian dining experience comes alive on Olive Garden’s new interactive Web site, www.olivegarden.com. Guests can experience the food, wine and spirit of Italy with just the click of a mouse.

The Web site is designed to be informative, educational and fun. Guests can access cooking tips, authentic Italian recipes, explore food and wine pairings, and learn about Olive Garden wines, which can then be ordered through wine.com.

“We invite guests to share our passion for Italy through our new Web site,” said Drew Madsen, executive vice president of marketing for Olive Garden. “www.olivegarden.com reflects the genuine Italian hospitality our guests experience when they visit our family of local restaurants.”

The Our Menus icon on the new Web site is a window into the world of authentic Italian cooking. Guests will learn cooking techniques for creating flavorful dishes that capture the rich and robust flavors of Italy. Some of those dishes are on Olive Garden’s menu including Chicken Vino Bianco, Pork Filettino, Penne Romana, Lobster Spaghetti and Tortelloni di Fizzano, all of which were inspired by the new Olive Garden Riserva di Fizzano restaurant and the Culinary Institute of Tuscany, both located in Italy.

Riserva di Fizzano and the Culinary Institute were established in cooperation with the Zingarelli’s, an Italian family that owns and operates the Rocca delle Macie winery, one of Italy’s leading producers of Tuscan wines. Olive Garden culinary team members from across North America participate in a formal training program at the Culinary Institute where they are inspired by the passion of Italy and learn firsthand about traditional Italian cooking, wines and culture from true Italian expert chefs.

Olive Garden brings the virtual genuine Italian dining experience to www.olivegarden.com. For example, guests can click on an Olive Garden menu item under the Food/Wine Matchmaker icon and find suggested wine pairings or they can choose their favorite wine and find suggested food pairings.

To familiarize guests with Olive Garden’s new, expanded wine list, the Our Wines icon offers video on how to open and pour wine as well as an audio file for the correct pronunciation of various wines. Guests can even learn how wine is made or how to choose the right wine glass.

From Olive Garden’s wine list, guests can link to wineries from Italy to Napa Valley. A page is devoted to each of the 33 wines on Olive Garden’s menu. Among the wines featured are Robert Mondavi, Kendall-Jackson, Sutter Home, Moet & Chandon, Bertani, Cavit and Rocca delle Macie as well as Olive Garden’s signature Principato wines, imported from Trentino, Italy. Just in time for the holiday season guests can order one of these wines from Olive Garden through wine.com or they can order an Olive Garden gift card for family and friends.

Depending upon their area of interest, guests can also choose from one of three e-mail newsletters highlighting wine, Olive Garden events, or cooking tips and recipes.

In addition, through www.olivegarden.com, guests can link to the nearest Olive Garden, find out about employment opportunities, and learn about community events. The Web site highlights such Olive Garden community initiatives as Drive Against Hunger, a program with America’s Harvest Food Banks across the country; Pasta For Pennies, a national fundraising program benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America; and Pasta Tales, a national essay writing contest for students.

The site was developed and implemented for Olive Garden by AGENCY.COM Ltd. (Nasdaq:Acom), a leading e-business builder in global markets. “With www.olivegarden.com, we were able to truly exemplify the power of the Internet in terms of extending its brand interactively,” said Lisa Hazen, account manager for AGENCY.COM. “This medium engages a whole new sector of customers and familiarizes them with the Olive Garden brand and offerings online, which will in turn, draw them into the restaurant.”

Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with 470 restaurants, more than 56,000 employees and $1.6 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants Inc.(NYSE:DRI), the world’s largest casual dining company. For more information, visit Olive Garden’s new Web site at www.olivegarden.com.