discontinued Olive Garden dishes

Discontinued Menu Items from Olive Garden: A Blast from the Past

Olive Garden has served a lot of different dishes since the Italian-American eatery first opened its doors in 1982. Some of the restaurant’s popular menu staples have survived over the long haul, like chicken fettuccine Alfredo, shrimp scampi, and, of course, unlimited salad and breadsticks. But other Olive Garden menu items haven’t stood the test of time, with countless entrees and appetizers seeming to disappear as quickly and suddenly as they appeared — much to the dismay of their fans.

Now, it’s actually possible to recreate select discontinued dishes at your nearest Olive Garden with customization requests from the kitchen. Then again, unless you were a die-hard fan of certain discontinued menu items, you might’ve forgotten many of them existed in the first place — until now. With that in mind, take a stroll down memory lane with us as we discuss 14 discontinued Olive Garden dishes you may have forgot all about.

Spicy Calabrian chicken breadstick sandwich

breadstick sandwich with parmesan fries

Olive Garden / Facebook

Olive Garden went through a bit of a mid-life crisis in the mid-2010s, when investors complained that the restaurant’s oversized portions, unlimited salad and breadsticks promotion, and excessive leftovers were costing the chain money. As a result, it started testing new (and sometimes unusual) ideas to revitalize its brand and increase profits, including the now-discontinued spicy Calabrian chicken breadstick sandwich.

Using its popular breadsticks as a bun, the spicy Calabrian chicken breadstick sandwich — along with several other breadstick bun options, including a chicken parmigiana breadstick sandwich – was part of a push to bring more customers through the door. The breadstick bun was virtually identical to the regular breadsticks brought to your table at the start of each meal, only larger. The crispy chicken was tossed in a red Calabrian sauce made from spicy Calabrian chili paste, pesto, and butter, and topped with a sharp, earthy gorgonzola sauce (plus a side of parmesan garlic fries).

Olive Garden even sent a food truck on a U.S. tour offering free breadstick sandwich samples to promote them. However, for unknown reasons, the entire breadstick sandwich line was eventually discontinued. Some have speculated it was removed because Olive Garden chose to focus on more authentically Italian dishes — and the spicy Calabrian chicken sandwich clearly was not.

Spaghetti pie

Olive Garden spaghetti pies

Olive Garden / Facebook

The spaghetti pie was another Olive Garden experiment that appeared on the menu in 2016 around the same time as the breadstick sandwiches – though this one was at least plausibly authentic. Pasta frittata is a dish that allows you to reinvent leftover pasta by assembling a pie of cooked pasta, eggs, and (usually) cheese, after all, and the chain’s spaghetti pie was essentially a take on that classic Italian meal.

Adding spaghetti pie to its menu in that spirit, Olive Garden also hoped to make use of any leftover cooked pasta in its kitchen. There were several spaghetti pie variations to choose from — including meatball deep dish and chicken Alfredo. Each started with spaghetti and seven kinds of cheese and was bound together with eggs, then baked until a golden brown crust was formed.

Now, Olive Garden may be able to whip up some discontinued dishes if they have the ingredients available (and the kitchen’s not too busy). But while the essential elements for its spaghetti pie are likely on hand, preparing the dish is simply too time-consuming for the kitchen to handle — even on a slow day. Fortunately, the simplicity of the pasta frittata method means making this discontinued Olive Garden menu item at home is a piece of pie … we mean, cake.

Garlic herb chicken con broccoli

olive garden chicken Alfredo con broccoli

Olive Garden / X (formerly known as Twitter)

Olive Garden’s garlic herb chicken con broccoli featured sliced grilled chicken, tender broccoli, and a special garlic Alfredo sauce. However, the real star of the show was the orecchiette, or a shell-like pasta that somewhat resembles little ears. The recipe was similar to orecchiette alla Pugliese, a traditional dish made with broccoli rabe, garlic, and sausage.

Though it was a relatively straightforward plate, fans of this pasta dish still felt its void when the restaurant removed it from the menu. The chain has introduced variations of the garlic herb chicken con broccoli since that time — including a chicken con broccoli pot pie — but these menu items were short-lived, as well.

Since the orecchiette pasta isn’t available as of May 2024, you’ll have to settle for a rough approximation of this discontinued dish if you’re hoping to replicate it at your local Olive Garden. The chicken Alfredo with added broccoli is pretty close, but it lacks both the pasta and more intense flavor of the special garlic Alfredo that drenched the original dish. In other words, this modification likely won’t be the same for many fans.

Steak gorgonzola Alfredo

Olive Garden steak gorgonzola fettuccine Alfredo

Olive Garden / X (formerly known as Twitter)

Fettuccine Alfredo is a staple on the Olive Garden menu and is available with shrimp, chicken, or on its own. However, one variation that came and went left those who got to try it wanting more: the steak gorgonzola Alfredo. This unique twist on the classic dish brought wonderfully complementary flavors to the rich, creamy decadence of fettuccine Alfredo.

It began with a bed of fettuccine ribbons smothered in Olive Garden’s homemade Alfredo sauce. Then, things took a turn as earthy gorgonzola cheese enhanced the steak and turned up the volume of the sauce, adding an unexpected bite to its smooth butteriness. Tender grilled steak capped off the dish, drizzled in a tangy balsamic glaze that paired delightfully with the gorgonzola. The combination of flavors made the steak gorgonzola Alfredo a clear favorite dish for many, but that didn’t stop Olive Garden from removing it from the menu.

Olive Garden continues to offer a sirloin steak with fettuccine Alfredo option as of May 2024. But it will never be quite the same without the contrast of the balsamic glaze and gorgonzola cheese used on this discontinued menu item.

Ravioli di portobello

Olive Garden ravioli di portobello

Olive Garden / Facebook

Ravioli is about as traditional as it gets when it comes to Italian cuisine, so it makes sense that it’s a mainstay of the Olive Garden menu. There are a variety of different ravioli flavor and sauce options offered by the chain, including a ravioli carbonara variation with bacon, as well as a now-discontinued ravioli di portobello dish that many guests absolutely loved.

The recipe featured round ravioli pasta stuffed with a portobello mushroom filling and topped with a smoked cheese sauce made with sundried tomatoes. The tangy tomatoes nicely complemented the earthy mushrooms and cheese, resulting in an unforgettable flavor profile that delighted diners — until it was erased from the menu and replaced with a similar creamy mushroom ravioli dish.

Unfortunately, this new dish came with Alfredo sauce instead of the cheese and sundried tomatoes, and simply wasn’t the same. Home cooks can attempt to recreate the original ravioli di portobello at home using copycat recipes available online if they’re so inclined, though many claim those miss the mark, too.

Stuffed chicken Marsala

Olive Garden stuffed chicken Marsala

xXSound_WavexX / X (formerly known as Twitter)

Chicken marsala is a classic dish that, legend has it, was born from a fusion of French and Italian cuisine in Sicily. The traditional recipe features a sauce made from butter, mushrooms, and the caramelized flavors of Marsala wine. But Olive Garden upgraded it by stuffing the chicken breast with cheese and sundried tomatoes and serving it with smooth mashed potatoes (because adding sundried tomatoes to anything at Olive Garden makes it a hit, it seems).

Unfortunately, like many other fan-favorite Olive Garden dishes, the stuffed chicken marsala disappeared from the menu without any real explanation. You can still order a standard chicken marsala with pasta from the chain, which is more in line with the traditional recipe. But since you can’t get the chicken breast stuffed with cheese and tomatoes, nor the mashed potatoes, the result is … not even remotely the same, to be totally honest.

Shrimp scampi fritta

Olive Garden shrimp scampi fritta

Santee Olive Garden / Facebook

Olive Garden often takes Italian favorites and adds a modern twist, and the shrimp scampi fritta appetizers was a perfect example of that. These two dishes — classic and spicy — were like what would happen if shrimp scampi and boneless Buffalo wings had a baby. All the flavors of the original shrimp scampi, minus the pasta, were found in these battered, deep-fried shrimp. The result was a shareable snack with a satisfying crunch that you could order by itself or on top of a salad.

Despite being tasty, the shrimp scampi fritta appetizers were discontinued at some point and replaced with the shrimp fritto misto. The newer option also features breaded and fried shrimp along with onions and bell peppers. Yet unlike the classic shrimp scampi fritta, the shrimp fritto misto isn’t tossed in a garlic white wine sauce, but served with dipping sauces on the side.

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Now, in theory, you could roughly recreate this dish at Olive Garden by ordering the shrimp fritto misto and asking for a side of scampi sauce. Then again, if you don’t want to assemble a dish at the restaurant, you can also make a variation of this discontinued Olive Garden menu item at home. You could even skip a few steps by using your favorite frozen popcorn shrimp, or try our spicy shrimp scampi recipe.

Venetian apricot chicken

Olive Garden Venetian apricot chicken

Olive Garden / Facebook

Olive Garden’s entrees are known for being rich and heavy, but occasionally, the restaurant adds a selection of lighter options. The Venetian apricot chicken was one of the dishes born from the chain’s then-new “Lighter Italian Fare” menu in 2012. It featured grilled chicken breast, a sweet apricot sauce, and sauteed asparagus, broccoli, and tomatoes for a satisfying meal that didn’t leave diners feeling weighed down.

Unfortunately, since this item was always intended to be a limited-time offering, the Venetian apricot chicken left the menu after the end of its promotional period. Additionally, there’s nothing even remotely similar to this dish on the chain’s menu, so there’s no real way to duplicate it in-house.

Of course, if you’re craving the dish and willing to make the effort to prepare it at home, the recipe is actually quite simple. To make the apricot sauce, combine chicken broth and apricot preserves in a saucepan, season with salt and pepper to taste, then bring to a boil. For the veggies, saute diced tomatoes with blanched asparagus and broccoli florets, seasoning the vegetables with garlic pepper and Italian seasoning. Serve this with grilled chicken breast topped with sweet apricot sauce, and you’ll never again forget this discontinued Olive Garden item.

Smoked mozzarella fonduta

Olive Garden smoked mozzarella fonduta

Olive Garden / Facebook

The smoked mozzarella fonduta was a simple dish — but a delicious one, nonetheless. The appetizer featured a blend of four cheeses (provolone, parmesan, romano, and smoked mozzarella) baked until golden brown and bubbly. It arrived at your table piping hot in one of the restaurant’s signature white serving dishes alongside crunchy round crostini pieces that were perfect for scooping up the cheesy goodness.

For unclear reasons, though, the smoked mozzarella fonduta is no longer on the Olive Garden menu, as it was discontinued at some point after its introduction. The odds of getting it prepared in-house are pretty slim, as well, since there’s nothing else that resembles this discontinued dish. Given the four cheeses used in the recipe are almost certainly on hand in the kitchen, you could always ask them to make it. But if they tell you no, you can always go home and broil up cheeses yourself — perhaps with an order of Olive Garden bake-at-home breadsticks to scoop up your homemade fonduta.

Sausage and peppers rustica

Olive Garden sausage and peppers rustica

Madeline DeJesus-Edwards / Facebook

Olive Garden’s sausage and peppers rustica was, at its core, a basic pasta and marinara dish. But the recipe built on that simple formula by adding sliced Italian sausage, red and green bell peppers, and mozzarella cheese. The spiciness of the sausage was a perfect contrast to the coolness of the mozzarella, and the dish as a whole had a bright, fresh quality to it.

For some time, the sausage and peppers rustica was an option on Olive Garden’s “2 for $25 Italian Dinner” promotion: a three-course meal for two with two entrees and an appetizer and dessert to share. Eventually, though, the sausage and peppers rustica was removed from the menu altogether.

Still, you may be able to recreate something similar to the dish by ordering a “create your own pasta” entree with rigatoni (not penne, but still tubular), marinara sauce, and adding two Italian sausages. To complete the order, ask for bell peppers (it’s available as of May 2024 in the shrimp fritto misto) and mozzarella cheese. While it won’t be an exact match to the original recipe, it’s a pretty satisfying copycat, and one that won’t ask too much from the kitchen staff to prepare.

Tuscan garlic chicken

Olive Garden Tuscan garlic chicken

Olive Garden / X (formerly known as Twitter)

Another popular menu item from the “2 for $25” promotion in 2013 was the Tuscan garlic chicken. This dish featured pan-seared chicken breast (not breaded) with fresh spinach and red bell peppers in a white wine garlic sauce served over al dente fettuccine pasta. The spinach, peppers, and white wine sauce made the dish bright and fragrant, and the tender chicken and firm pasta made it a delightfully satisfying entree.

Of course, like several of its fellow promotional comrades, the Tuscan garlic chicken was eventually discontinued and removed from the Olive Garden menu. Fortunately, lovers of this dish won’t have to work too hard to duplicate it in the restaurant if they’re craving this classic flavor as the chicken scampi is a very similar entree. It has sliced red onions and is served over a bed of angel hair pasta and white wine sauce rather than fettuccine, but it’s a pretty close match to the original Tuscan garlic chicken overall.

Giant stuffed shells

Olive Garden giant stuffed shells with shrimp

Olive Garden / X (formerly known as Twitter)

For a couple short months in 2019, Olive Garden ran a “Giant Classics” promotion featuring comically oversized versions (and portions) of well-known, traditional Italian dishes. The massive meals included a baseball-sized meatball with spaghetti, a chicken parmigiana more than 11 inches long, and giant stuffed pasta shells.

The commercials for the giant stuffed shells had us drooling every time they aired. The plate came with five beautifully arranged pasta shells overfilled with a four-cheese blend, doused with not one but two sauces — Alfredo and marinara — and sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs. This larger-than-life entree was available with or without shrimp, but even on its own, it was incredibly satisfying.

There are no giant shells on the Olive Garden anymore, meaning it’s not available to current diners. But seeing how this dish was basically pasta stuffed with cheese, the cheese ravioli may be close enough to satisfy a craving for anyone who fondly remembers the giant stuffed shells.

Braised beef with tortelloni

Olive Garden braised beef and tortelloni

Olive Garden / X (formerly known as Twitter)

In any online discussion about old Olive Garden menu items among die-hard fans, the braised beef with tortellini always seems to come up, and it’s easy to see why. The recipe featured cheese-filled tortellini drenched with an original sauce made from equal parts Alfredo and marsala and topped with spoon-tender braised beef. The dish was rich and filling, with a delightfully down-home touch from the beef. It disappeared from the menu before briefly returning in 2014 — only to vanish again, sending fans of the dish on an emotional rollercoaster.

You can still special-order the pasta and sauce that formed the foundation of this guest favorite, as both sauces are still featured on the current menu. You could always ask for the cheese tortellini entree with Alfredo sauce and a side of marsala, then mix it up at the table. However, since there’s no braised beef anymore, an exact match isn’t possible in-house, so your best bet may be to make your own braised beef at home when craving this discontinued entree.

Chicken giardino

Olive Garden chicken giardino

Olive Garden / X (formerly known as Twitter)

A lower calorie option that came and went as part of the limited-time “Taste of the Mediterranean” menu in 2017, the chicken giardino was a bright dish that starkly contrasted with Olive Garden’s more decadent entrees. It featured marinated chicken and a smorgasbord of fresh vegetables — asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, spinach, peas, carrots, and broccoli — sauteed to perfection and served over a bed of ruffly pappardelle pasta. Finally, the whole plate was topped with a silky lemon chicken herb sauce.

Though this dish could be described as summer on a plate, the chicken giardino is no longer available at Olive Garden locations. More than that, the signature sauce and pappardelle pasta aren’t offered by the chain, either, so fans who remember this dish are out of luck when visiting.

There are, however, numerous copycat recipes out there for home chefs to try. It’s fairly easy to prepare, as well, despite the long list of ingredients, so if you’ve never forgotten this entree? You can still enjoy it at home.

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