But Internet sensation Marilyn Hagerty of Grand Forks has no time for the fuss or the cynics

By Mike Fleeman
Updated March 09, 2012 03:00 PM
Diane Bondareff/AP. Inset: Courtesy Grand Forks Herald

The review was so earnest that cynics thought it had to be a joke.

Marilyn Hagerty’s rave of the new Olive Garden in Grand Forks, N.D., has gone viral, with the 85-year-old author of The EatBeat column in the Herald attracting a mixture of jaded disbelief and unlikely praise.

“Very much enjoying watching Internet sensation Marilyn Hagerty triumph over the snarkologists (myself included),” Anthony Bourdain told his Twitter followers.

Under the headline, “Long-awaited Olive Garden receives warm welcome,” Hagerty praised the $10.95 chicken Alfredo (“warm and comforting on a cold day”) as well as “the two long, warm breadsticks,” the neatly dressed waiters and the restaurant’s “welcoming entryway.”

“All in all, it is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks,” she writes. “It attracts visitors from out of town as well as people who live here.”

As the review caught fire across the Internet, Hagerty – who has written the column for more than 30 years – could only wonder what the fuss was all about and express impatience for any mean-spirited detractors.

“My daughter tells me I should go on Facebook and read all this crap,” she tells The Village Voice. “And I do not have time to let myself be bothered or read all that stuff. I have a Sunday column I’m doing now about a completely different subject. I don’t have time to sit here and twit over whether some self-styled food expert likes, or does not like, my column.”