When one thinks of The Olive Garden, salad and breadsticks probably come to mind. After that comes huge plates of rich, delicious pasta. Right? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way, especially once you learn that those choices are easily worth around a total of 2000 calories. Seriously! There is a better way to take your “Tour of Italy” and be able to walk out without having to unbutton your pants.
First things first: the Olive Garden menu is actually filled with many, many delicious non-pasta dishes. But before your wise dinner choice arrives at your table, you should be aware of the calories in their famous breadsticks and salad.
- One breadstick (with garlic-butter spread) has 150 calories.
- One serving of Garden-Fresh Salad with dressing has 350 calories.
- INSIDER’S TIP — you can ask to have the salad without the dressing for 150 calories per serving.
Shocking, isn’t it? Maybe not. You definitely need to go in with a reasonable plan, or you’ll consume 500 calories before dinner even arrives. Scary stuff!
Now on to dinner! First the heavy hitters of the Olive Garden menu:
- Create-Your-Own Pizza has 930 calories before you even add a single topping.
- Lasagna Classico, a crowd favorite, has 850 calories.
- Spaghetti & Meatballs has 920 calories.
- Eggplant Parmigiana has 850 calories. That’s a lot for a vegetarian dish!
- Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad has 850 calories.
- The Mixed Grill (skewers of beef and chicken, with potatoes and peppers) has 830 calories.
- The Tour of Italy (lasagna, chicken parmesan, and fettuccine alfredo) has a whopping 1450 calories!
Did your scale just break? Fear not, there are better choices on the Olive Garden menu, some of which actually include pasta:
- They offer three panini sandwiches, all for less than 600 calories! They come with a cup of minestrone soup that will add another 100 calories. That seems like a rather filling 700 calories.
- Linguine Alla Marinara, if you must have pasta, is a simple dish that has only 430 calories.
Where’s the beef? The Olive Garden menu does not disappoint:
- Steak Toscano, a 12-oz. steak with potatoes and bell peppers, has 590 calories.
- Parmesan Crusted Bistecca, which sounds quite sinful, is actually an 8-0z. steak with mashed potatoes and asparagus to the tune of 690 calories.
If white meat’s your thing, check out these winning poultry selections on the Olive Garden menu:
- Venetian Apricot Chicken, which is glazed chicken breasts served with broccoli, asparagus and diced tomatoes, has only 400 calories!
- Mediterranean Grilled Chicken over pasta (!!!) tossed with tomatoes, feta cheese, spinach and olives has 670 calories.
Pescetarian? Or simply calorie conscious? Go no further than the seafood selections on the Olive Garden menu:
- Herb-Grilled Salmon, served with broccoli, has 510 calories.
- Parmesan Crusted Tilapia, served with vegetables over pasta (!!!), has 590 calories.
- Seafood Brodetto (scallops,Â shrimp, and tilapia with spinach and mushrooms in a wine and marinara broth) is served with ciabatta bread and has only 480 calories.
If you can mindfully skip the salad and breadsticks, perhaps by focusing on conversation with your dinner companion, you can have a delicious, satisfying meal at the Olive Garden for 700 calories or less.