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7 Most Popular Appetizers at Olive Garden

Try these fan favorite Olive Garden starters

Whenever I go out for lunch or dinner, ordering an appetizer before my main entree is a must. Whether I am with my friends or family, snacking on a delicious plate of appetite teasers is a must.

View a Olive Garden restaurant

Not only do appetizers stimulate your appetite and prevent you from feeling famished as you wait, but you get to experience different types of flavors in small quantities before your entree.

One family restaurant famous for its impressive selection of appetizers is the Italian-American chain Olive Garden. Besides the complimentary breadsticks, the best Olive Garden appetizers make your mouth water at first sight, whether you are watching it in an advertisement or seeing the plate in front of you.

Beware though! Almost all of the appetizers are fried in oil. So if you are looking to count your calories or eat something healthy, look again. Instead, you can order yourself a delicious bowl of soup or their endless salad of your choice!

Top Olive Garden Appetizers

Check out our favorite appetizers at Olive Garden to start your meal right!

Calamari

A classic appetizer that you will come across on almost every menu at just about the majority of sit-down restaurants across America is Calamari. 

Though some restaurants present grilled Calamari, the Calamari at Olive Garden is fried and served with a sprinkle of delicious herbs on top.

It comes with a dipping sauce of your choice, such as regular, classic marinara, cocktail sauce, as well as a spicy ranch. I tried the cocktail sauce and, *chef’s kiss*, it was simply delicious.

The Calamari was lightly breaded and was far from rubbery. They were the most tender squid I have ever had.


Spinach-Artichoke Dip

If you are not a meat-lover or are trying to be a more environmentally conscious and sustainable individual, this vegetarian option is the one for you. 

The texture of the Spinach-Artichoke Dip was not only the perfect amount of gooey but was also cheesy and crispy at the same time.

Served hot with an assortment of fried flatbread pieces of crisps, the flavor of the artichoke and the spinach complemented the blend of four different kinds of cheese in the dip.

I would say that this appetizer could have been a meal on its own because it does tend to get a bit heavy.


Lasagna Fritta

The Lasagna Fritta at Olive Garden is exactly what it sounds like; fried and stuffed lasagna pieces with minced meat on top and alfredo sauce as a base layer underneath.

If I had to pick a favorite from all of the appetizers I tried, this one would take the cake without any doubt.

Not only was it presented aesthetically, but the flavors were to die for! Six breaded rolls of ricotta cheese were deep-fried and folded in an eye-pleasing manner.

Even if the flavors had been disappointing—which they weren’t, by the way—I would have still rated this dish highly for the way it was presented.


Stuffed Ziti Frita

The Stuffed Ziti Frita at Olive Garden is essentially crispy fried ziti—a smaller, shorter version of the Penne-shaped pasta—stuffed with five different types of cheeses.

The pasta was lightly breaded like all other fried items and fried till it was crispy and golden brown.

The pasta was stuffed with a combination of ricotta, romano, mozzarella, parmesan, and cream cheese.

Besides the deliciously gooey texture of all the different types of cheese, the dish is served with not only the marinara sauce but the Alfredo as well! What more could anyone want?!


Zuppa Toscana

The only soup in our list of the best appetizers at Olive Garden, the Zuppa Toscana, has to be a must-try for anyone going to the restaurant.

This Tuscan soup is made with not only veggies, beans, and potatoes, but sausage and bacon too!

Olive Garden gives its American twist to the classic soup by adding in a good amount of garlic and heavy cream as well, along with kale.

Every bite of this soup is nothing but good vibes and coziness.

It feels as though you are sitting next to a fireplace in the Autumn days as you eat this hot and delicious appetizer. 


Toasted Ravioli

This appetizer at Olive Garden is only available in their ‘Create a Sampler Italiano’ combo that gives you a choice of ordering two or three appetizers altogether.

The Toasted Ravioli was small tasty bites of pasta filled with not just beef, but pork too.

They were presented on a plate along with the classic, signature Olive Garden marinara sauce as a dip on the side.

Whenever I have ordered a plate of ravioli, I have often been disappointed. Either the filling used to be too much, or too less, or the paste sheet would be too thick.

But this was hands down the tastiest ravioli snack I have ever had. My favorite thing about it was the lingering taste of parmesan that came at the end of every bite.


Shrimp Scampi Fritta

This Olive Garden appetizer comes in two different styles: Regular Shrimp Scampi Fritta and Spicy Shrimp Scampi Fritta.

Since my stomach was about to explode at this point, I only ordered the Regular Shrimp Scampi. 

The shrimp pieces were coated lightly in breadcrumbs, deep-fried, and pre-tossed in a garlic, lemon, and wine sauce. The texture of the shrimp themselves was ideal, in my opinion. 

The dish came with a delicious Ranch as a dipping sauce to the shrimp.

There was nothing more I could have wanted because I simply love ranch. There was something about Olive Garden’s ranch that just made my mouth feel like fireworks were going off in there—so full of flavor, yet well-balanced at the same time.


Top Olive Garden Appetizers

  1. Calamari
  2. Spinach-Artichoke Dip
  3. Lasagna Frita
  4. Stuffed Ziti Frita
  5. Zuppa Toscana
  6. Toasted Ravioli
  7. Shrimp Scampi Fritta

Final Thoughts

All in all, there was not a single Olive Garden appetizer that disappointed me or did not meet my expectations.

Each dish ordered was much more than what I was expecting in terms of texture, quantity, and of course, taste. From the Calamari to the Zuppa Toscana, flavors upon flavors were melting on my tongue.

Another best thing about Olive Garden appetizers and their main course is the value for money.

You get delicious, high-quality food that fills you right up to within an affordable price range. Moreover, the interior makes you feel comfortable and right at home, keeping you at peace and cozy.

Once you’ve picked your apps, check out the most popular Olive Garden dishes to order, and finish your meal with their best desserts!

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Written by Erin B.

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.