Olive Garden is a casual-dining restaurant chain best known for its breadsticks, pasta dishes, and big portions. If you’re planning to eat here with your friends or family, it’s always a good idea to know what to order (and what not to order) so your group can have a great dining experience.
That said, let’s start with Olive Garden’s menu choices that a lot of people are raving about:
1. Lasagna Fritta
This is the favorite appetizer of Olive Garden’s loyal patrons and the portion size is ideal for a family. Lasagna Fritta is comprised of parmesan-breaded fried lasagna topped with more parmesan and meat sauce with pan-seared beef and Italian sausage.
2. Stuffed Chicken Marsala
This dish from Olive Garden is made by frying chicken cutlets in a pan and served with marsala wine sauce with savory herbs and mushrooms. It’s a cohesive dish and the chicken is juicy and perfect, while the mushrooms and marsala sauce have great flavors and even better consistency. It’s served with a side of fettuccine alfredo.
3. Chicken Carbonara
This pasta dish is rich and well-seasoned. The whole thing is cooked over fire. There’s also an option to choose chicken and shrimp carbonara if you prefer to have more protein.
4. Tour of Italy
You get full single servings of lasagna classico, chicken parmigiana and fettuccine alfredo in a large plate layered with parmesan, pecorino romano cheeses, mozzarella, pasta and homemade meat sauce.
5. Italian Margarita
While the traditional version combines tequila, lime and triple sec, at Olive Garden it includes a shot of Amaretto on the side which adds a certain freshness with a sort of tart-meets-sweet flavor.
The classic, no-bake dessert has coffee and liquor-soaked sponge cake layered with sugar and whipped mascarpone cheese and topped off with powdered chocolate. It’s rich yet light, and has the right amount of sweetness. The subtle hint of caffeine is an added bonus.
7. Sicilian Cheesecake
While New York-style cheese cake uses cream cheese the Italian version uses ricotta cheese. So what you get is a more delicate, whipped-like dessert with a wonderful flavor of the shortbread cookie crust to add some crunch and a hint of sweetness.
8. Chicken & Gnocchi Soup
Olive Garden boasts of an impressive selection of homemade soups and the fan favorite is the chicken and gnocchi. This is a creamy soup composed of roasted chicken, spinach and Italian dumplings. This soup is creamy without being overly thick, and filled with super tender chicken and soft dumplings.
Olive Garden’s breadsticks are a cathartic experience, and these heavenly babies are baked fresh every 15 minutes. Perfectly salted, they feature a buttery and garlicky exterior, with just the right amount of crunch. And when you bite into it, you get treated to a pillow-like inside and there’s simply nothing quite like OG’s breadsticks.
What Not to Order
While most of the menu items in Olive Garden range from good to great, there are some that you can definitely do without.
First on the list is the Chicken Alfredo Pizza which is often served burnt and there’s nothing special in it really. Another is the seafood-stuffed mushrooms which may look tempting when looking at the menu, but the clams, herbed breadcrumbs and Italian cheese packed mushroom dish is often served not hot enough, sometimes you’ll find it a bit cold in the middle making it rubbery and soggy.
Finally, a no-no dessert would be the dolcini which is often frozen and too expensive for what you get.