Gluten-Free Options at Olive Garden Italian Restaurants
Gluten-Free Guests Are in Luck!
I have worked at Olive Garden for over two years, working in both the front-of-the-house and in the back-of-house kitchen areas. I can confidently say that requests for gluten-free meals are one of the most common special requests at my restaurant, and at other Olive Garden restaurants nationwide. Luckily for gluten-sensitive guests, including those with Celiac Disease, Olive Garden Italian Restaurants offers a wide variety of gluten-free menu options.
Ask for a Special Gluten-Free Menu
Guests with gluten allergies can ask for a copy of the "Garden Fare Nutrition Guide" at the host stand of any Olive Garden restaurant. This guide not only lists nutrition information for every single item on the menu, but it also contains a list of gluten-free menu options available at every Olive Garden location. This special menu, available by request only, serves as a great "jumping off" point for Olive Garden guests with gluten allergies and sensitivities.
Make All the Substitutions You Want!
Many Olive Garden "classics" can be made gluten-free just by tweaking a few ingredients. For example, according to the gluten-free menu section of the Olive Garden website, both the garden-fresh salad and the traditional Cesar salad can be made gluten-free just by leaving off the croutons. All Olive Garden locations carry gluten-free penne pasta, so many pasta dishes can be made gluten-free just by substituting the default pasta with penne--you just want to make sure that whatever sauce comes on the dish is also gluten-free.
Meat lovers will enjoy the fact that both the Steak Toscano and the Mixed Grill entrees are naturally gluten-free without any substitutions...they can be ordered straight from the "regular" menu. There are even options for kids who are sensitive to gluten, with a few gluten-free options on the Olive Garden children's menu, including pasta with grilled chicken.
A Word of Caution
It is important to note that items at Olive Garden are handcrafted on shared preparation surfaces, so those with extreme gluten-sensitivities will want to talk to the culinary manager to ensure the accommodation of their special needs. For most guests with gluten sensitivities, however, simply ordering from the gluten-free menu will be more than adequate to address their dietary needs. In my opinion, Olive Garden really goes out of its way to make sure there are menu items suitable for everyone, including guests with gluten allergies and Celiac disease.
If you don't want to go out, you can make gluten-free pasta at home!
Other Links of Interest to the Gluten-Free Diner
- Let's Eat Out: Tips for Safe Gluten-Free Restaurant Dining - Living Without's Gluten Free & More
A mother's dining-out tips for her son, that he could share with his colleague who had just been diagnosed with celiac disease. Very informative.
- Gluten-Free Restaurant Dining - Tips
Here's what you need to know for gluten-free dining: choosing the restaurants, talking to waiters, and selecting food from the restaurant menu.
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