I am trying to make pasta at home that tastes like Olive Garden pasta (which I have with butter instead of alfredo). I believe that the reason that my pasta doesn't taste the same is because of the butter I use. I use Land of Lakes salted butter and I noticed that when I add the butter to the pasta the butter isn't very visible vs. when Olive Garden uses butter it becomes a darker yellow liquid that ends up tasting much better. What brands of butter do restaurants like Olive garden use? Or is there something special they do to the butter to make it taste better (I just add 5 tablespoons of the butter to a pound of pasta after I take it out of the strainer and then I mix the pasta).
What you are describing is probably browned butter. It's not the butter they use but the technique as any butter will do. Pasta is usually cooked with its sauce before putting it on the plate, you can re-create this very simply.
First get a pan big enough to toss your pasta in, then get it on a high heat and add your butter. Melt it, then cook it until it takes on a slightly brown tint and smells a bit like nuts, then get your cooked pasta in and toss it or stir it around to coat. A small scoop of the pasta water will keep it from drying out and give it a nice sheen as well.
It is butter. For 5 years I cooked on the line and did prep work where I made all the soups and sauces. The butter is melted down and sauce is cooked to 185 degrees. It doesn't matter what brand of butter you use. We had to use Land of lakes as well. Step by step you put butter in the kettle, add the garlic as the butter melts. Add salt and pepper the white sauce base (it was basically all-purpose flour and powdered milk) then heavy cream and milk. Stir and bring to 185 degrees. Done.
The majority of the time the butter is browned slightly when melting down with the garlic.
Living in Scotland, I've never been to an Olive Garden, but I would be surprised if they weren't using clarified butter, or possibly an oil/butter mix designed to emulate the flavour of clarified butter.
You may be able to buy clarified butter, but it is relatively easy to make yourself and keeps a long time. This website, food-hacks.wonderhowto.com explains the process.
Clarified butter, as well as having the milk solids removed, has most of the water removed so that you get close to 100% butterfat, as opposed to the 81% fat that Land o' Lakes butter has straight from the pack.
Because the clarifying process removes water, milk solids (and possibly other impurities), clarified butter tastes silkier, richer, and has a more intensely creamy, buttery taste.
I would be surprised if it was butter in any shape or form.
In years past I worked at another restaurant owned by the same company that owns Olive Garden. We had butter for guests to use with bread and with potatoes, that sort of thing, but in the kitchen it was a product called Phase that was used.
This is a hydrogenated soybean oil product that vaguely tastes like butter. It's very common in the food industry.
Ever had a greasy pizza crust from a crappy chain restaurant? That's likely Phase as well. Or some competitor's product.