Olive Garden with Food Allergies
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Olive Garden is one of the few places we’ve ventured out to eat with an egg, milk, and nut allergic child. I love that it is a chain and we can find one most places if we are traveling. We have eaten there many times and have been very happy with our experience each time. There are plenty of safe pasta options and even a dessert smoothie that can work, so I consider that a win.
There are no nuts in any of their dishes except for the Biscotti Almond dessert, so I feel pretty confident that the food we would order is not going to come in contact with any nuts at Olive Garden. However, there are plenty of dishes with egg and dairy. If you are hoping to eat at an allergen free restaurant, this is not it. If you are hoping to eat somewhere mainstream that has some good precautions and procedures in place, this might be worth trying. It was for us.
This is what they say on their site about their procedures: “When you tell your server that you have a food allergy, they will add this information to your order. This will alert the kitchen that you have a food allergy and will trigger several processes, including changing their gloves and serving utensils. Each of our managers has completed a food safety course, which includes basic information about food allergies, in addition to safe food handling practices.”
To see Olive Garden’s allergy menu or more information about Olive Garden’s Food Allergy Procedures, you can follow the link below.
Be sure to check the most recent allergy menu to see what you can eat before you go. You can also ask for an allergy menu before or after you are seated so you can review your options. Just to give you an idea of what is available, here is what we usually eat at Olive Garden.
One of the best things at Olive Garden is the bread sticks of course! And one of the reasons we love taking my son there is because he can eat unlimited amounts of bread sticks. Surprisingly, they are dairy, egg and nut free. Say WHAT??? Yes, you heard that right, the bread sticks do not even have butter on them. Go to town. It is one of the few places you can eat the bread!
The salad is off limits because of the dressing, BUT the Minestrone or Pasta E Fagioli soup are both safe options. My son didn’t really like either of these, but if you are ordering this as an adult or your kid really likes vegetables or beans and tomatoes, this is a great appetizer option.
Pasta is going to be the main option for a dairy, egg and nut free experience here. When we order, we do the build-your-own pasta dinner. You can order that in either the kids menu or the regular menu. Thankfully most inexpensive pasta is made with semolina or wheat flour and not with egg. Olive Garden is no exception. Most of the standard pastas are egg free (cavatappi, fettuccine, rigatoni, small shells, spaghetti, and whole grain linguine). If gluten is an issue, they also have some gluten free options on their menu like zoodles.
None of the creamy sauces are going to be dairy free, but there are several dairy free red sauces to choose from including Meat Sauce, Marinara Sauce, Spicy Marinara Sauce and Tomato Sauce.
If you want to add meat, there are only a couple of dairy and egg free meat options on the menu. The Italian sausage and the shrimp. We have ordered grilled chicken but it is usually cooked with butter or made in a fryer that is cross contaminated. We have had to have them make it special for us once or twice. Since this is not standard, but sometimes it is possible, so it is worth asking. If cross contamination is not a concern for you, the chicken fingers are dairy and egg free but are marked with an asterisk they are made in a shared fryer as other allergens.
Sides or Veggies
In the kids meals, you can choose from steamed broccoli, or grapes. You can still order steamed broccoli or grapes even if you aren’t using a kids menu, and you can also order garden veggies on the side. If you were missing out on the salad, these sides might make a great alternative.
Olive Garden is one of the few places that actually have a dairy, egg and nut free dessert option. They have two smoothies, the Peach-Mango or the Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Both are delicious, but I like the Peach-Mango the best. On my son’s birthday, they sang to him and brought him a free smoothie for dessert. He was so happy that he could actually have a dessert at a restaurant. That birthday was a really special day for him.
I hope this is helpful information in deciding on whether you would want to give Olive Garden a try, and what you might be able to order if you go. It is always great to know what your options are when you want to (or need to) eat out.