Italian-American cuisine is among the most beloved fusion cuisines in the United States, even the world. The richness of the sauces in the pasta, pizza and lasagna, the sumptuousness of the desserts from tiramisu to cheesecake, and the decadent flavors of the chocolates, cheeses and wines are all reasons for its popularity. No wonder then that restaurants offering Italian-American fare are nearly always full!
Spaghetti Warehouse and Olive Garden are two of the popular chain of restaurants with Italian-American cuisines. Both have their share of fans, too, since each chain’s interpretation of the common Italian-American dishes and desserts are quite different. Your choice between the two chains will largely depend on your personal preferences in flavors, tastes and textures in pasta, pizza and lasagna, among other dishes.
Even when it’s a national chain, the Spaghetti Warehouse management asserts that its dishes and desserts are all made from scratch in their restaurants’ kitchens, thus, ensuring their fresh quality. These are also purportedly made from family recipes that have been passed down through several generations – and we have the mind to believe it because there’s a certain homemade quality to them.
The 15-layer Incredible Lasagna is among its bestselling dishes for good reasons. There’s nothing easy about its preparation from the handmade lasagna sheets to the hand-rolled meatballs – and it takes three days to make, too. The intensive preparation is well worth it because the lasagna tastes incredible from the al dente texture of the lasagna to the flavorful tomato-based sauce, tender ground beef, and cheesy cheese.
Diners also appreciate the complimentary fresh-from-the-oven sourdough bread and tangy garlic butter, which are provide with every entrée order. You can even become full from just these food but we suggest leaving room for the appetizers, such as the Sicilian Sampler with calamari, toasted ravioli, and mozzarella fritta. You must also order the salads and soups like the classic Caesar salad, the minestrone, and the Italian wedding soup.
Of course, the stars of the menu are the spaghetti dishes, which are enough reasons to come back again and again to Spaghetti Warehouse. These dishes have a certain comfort food quality to them albeit with gourmet touches, a combo that makes the chain a great place for your grandmother’s Italian cooking with an American twist. The choices include the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs with pork-and-beef meatballs; the Spaghetti Pomodoro with gluten-free noodles and vegetables in the sauce and toppings; and Spaghetti with Meat Sauce in traditional and spicy sauce.
As for the drinks menu, Spaghetti Warehouse offers an extensive selection. We suggest the Warehouse Sangria because it’s such a refreshing and refined drink although food pairings are also possible with the other wines and cocktails.
Yet another national chain with an Italian-American cuisine is Olive Garden with its emphasis on pasta dishes, salads and steaks. Diners say they love the breadsticks with many even saying that they come for lunch and dinner just for these delicious pieces. In fact, the chain designs its lunch menu around breadsticks so you know that it’s a must-order in the restaurants.
Olive Garden prides itself on its giant stuffed pastas, which are bigger in size, cheesier in taste, and even more delicious in flavors from the first to the last bite. The restaurants also offer include classic Italian favorites including fettucine Aldredo and chicken parmigiana, which many diners say are even superior in comparison with other chains.
The lunch duos are also popular items on the menu. Basically, you can choose one item from the menu and combine it with unlimited salads or soups. Your choices include eggplant parmigiana breadstick sandwich, Italian meatball breadstick sandwich, and grilled vegetable and cheese piadina, most of which are also served with crispy fries.
The Olive Garden restaurants also have a wide range of beverages for diners to choose from. There are coffee specialties, such as iced coffee, frozen cappuccino, and macchiato, too, aside from the usual sodas.
In terms of food quality, we must say that Spaghetti Warehouse prepares better-tasting food. But that’s just our opinion since Olive Garden also has its share of delicious dishes.
The Spaghetti Warehouse is known for its use of historic buildings for its locations as well as for the trolley cars in the restaurants. The Olive Garden has a more utilitarian outlook on its buildings but these are tastefully decorated, too. Both chains emphasize a kid-friendly, family-friendly atmosphere with its spacious dining areas, casual attire and ambiance, and friendly staff ready to assist diners.
Most of the restaurants in the chain also provide takeout, delivery and catering services within a wide radius from their locations. These services make it convenient to feed a small and large groups of people without making prolonged preparations. Plus, there’s no need to spend hours cleaning up afterwards, especially since Italian-American dishes and desserts can make a mess.
Which one is the better chain? It depends on your own needs and wants in Italian-American cuisine served in a restaurant setting. Both are just as good in terms of their food and drinks, customer services, and casual ambiance.