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Eating Gluten Free at Olive Garden

July 10th, 2010

One of my husband’s favorite places to eat is the Olive Garden. Ever since I went gluten-free it has been really hard to face the prospects of dinning there again. I thought that it would be terrible to endure the rest of the family munching on the never-ending basket of breadsticks. I had also read that the gluten-free pasta dish was frozen and not any good. Why bother going back if I couldn’t eat good pasta?

While Olive Garden only has 7 items on their gluten-free menu, only one of which is a pasta dish, there are still a couple more that I would like to try. I chose to avoid the pasta dish tonight since I had read the bad review before. The waiter was very nice and brought me a separate salad bowl without croutons. The house salad dressing is gluten-free, but because of soybean oil and preservatives contained in the salad dressing I opted for oil and vinegar to top my salad. It was still very good. For my entree I chose the mixed grill, skewers with steak & chicken and a side of vegetables. The steak was a little too well done for my liking, but I will definitely go back to try out some of the other gluten-free items.

Upon leaving I asked the waiter how the pasta dish was prepared. I was curious if it was frozen, or if it was made fresh on site. He told me the gluten-free pasta dish is not frozen. The pasta is boiled in the morning and the sauce is made fresh as well. I think next time I will have the pasta, but here is their gluten-free menu. This definitely wasn’t my worst experience dinning out since my gluten sensitivity was diagnosed. If you are going there expecting to have lots of pasta and bread choices, Olive Garden just isn’t there yet. With pasta being their thing, you might expect a lot of options, but that is not the case. Expect to have a few good options and have an enjoyable experience with your family. I applaud Olive Garden for being one of the first restaurants to offer a gluten-free menu. I wouldn’t recommend going here if you are still in the anger stage and are experiencing a sense of loss because you cannot indulge in glutinous grains.

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  1. Amy Wong
    July 10th, 2010 at 23:29 | #1

    I was reluctant to go there for a friend’s birthday dinner a few months ago. I had read somewhere on the web that they now offer some gluten free dishes, so I looked on Olive Garden’s website and saw they do in fact offer a few dishes. So when it came time to order, I asked the waitress for a gluten free menu and she rudely informed me that they don’t have a separate one, and it is indicated on the regular menu which items can be made gluten free. The only dish I could find that I could eat (no gluten or shellfish for me) was the salmon. So I ordered it, and much to my disappointment, the piece of salmon I was served was quite small, dry, overcooked, and pretty bland. DEFINITELY not worth the $17 I was charged for it.

  2. July 11th, 2010 at 11:48 | #2

    That’s too bad that the waitress was rude with you. My waiter was very nice. They do in fact have a separate menu now. They were a paper printed menu available in a basket in the lobby. I made a point of asking for one before we were seated.

    I know that eating out gluten free can be a challenge, but I think if my salmon was overcooked I would send it back. You are paying for service, so make the most of it.

  3. lisa
    January 30th, 2011 at 20:41 | #3

    I love eating at Olive Garden, but when I was diagnosed with celiacs my options were slim. I recently went to olive garden and was excited that there was a gluten free menu. I ordered the penne, within 15 minutes I was having intestinal pains. No Bueno!

  4. July 13th, 2011 at 14:34 | #4

    I too went to an Olive Garden to try out their GF menu–it was disappointing. I ordered the salad (no croutons) and GF pasta pomodoro, but about halfway through dinner I noticed a regular piece of pasta floating in with my GF penne. NOT GOOD. I wonder if they are using the same hot water to reheat their GF items as they do to reheat the regular pasta? Overall the sauce was bland and the pasta okay, but not really worth the $12. The salad was great though, as usual. I brought the pasta problem up to my server and he seemed…clueless, but nice. Oh well, it was a nice try by Olive Garden to get in on the GF run, but I don’t think my innards can tolerate their learning curve.

  5. August 4th, 2011 at 23:30 | #5

    I went to Olive garden to try the GF menu. Ordered the mixed grill with grilled veggies and steamed broccoli. Not what was on the plate. The plate had the grilled meat and veggies but also had fried potatoes and zuccini with a broccoli mush on the top. When I asked the manager, found out the potatoes are cooked in same fryer with gluten items. Wasn’t sure about the veggie. I didn’t eat the meal. They are obviously not very careful about what they serve.

  6. September 3rd, 2012 at 17:42 | #6

    Just ate at Olive Garden on Sunday. ALWAYS order your salad no croutons and with the dressing on the side in the little SEALED take out salad dressing packages. This is because back in the salad prep area there are often croutons floating in the dressing tub, as they are side by side. A waitress told me this once and on Sunday I forgot to order it on the side and was rewarded with a soggy crouton in my salad.

    They have two pasta items on the menu now, I do prefer the pomodoro to the marinara, a much better dish. However, I really wish they would switch out their tough, yellow pasta for some yummy brown rice pasta! At least with the yellow pasta we could easily tell if a regular noodle was mixed in. Next time I go I am going to ask them about how they rewarm the pasta and make sure it is not in the gluten water!

  7. Candice
    March 6th, 2013 at 06:02 | #7

    I’ve seen dozens of reviews that tell of management sitting the GF pasta was pre cooked and microwaved to prevent CC. Your waiter was prob not knowledgable or trying to make his establishment sound less cheap.

  8. Candice
    March 6th, 2013 at 06:03 | #8

    *stating @Candice

  9. Dan
    June 1st, 2014 at 16:55 | #9

    Daughter is a celiac patient. Went to olive garden and she ordered the gluten free pasta dish. She always picks through her food and good that she did because there were regular noodles mixed in with the supposedly gluten free noodles. Manager and chef were very apologetic but did not have an answer as to how this happened. Daughter got very sick the next 2 days. Needless to say we will not be back to the olive garden ever again.

  10. June 6th, 2014 at 23:08 | #10

    That is awful! I’m so sorry she got sick from eating there.

    I’ve asked our Olive Garden about GF food prep in the past and there seemed to be some confusion. The manager of our Olive Garden said that the GF noodles were to be heated in a microwave, but I think some staff didn’t get the memo. They have had some training issues for sure.

    It is so hard and a bit scary to eat out. That is why I mostly stick to restaurants that I know and trust.

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