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Deals Worth Waiting For: Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Bowl

Updated on September 9, 2014

Treating Myself to Olive Garden

I must have been a Darden Restaurants employee or owner in a past life, because I love to treat myself to Red Lobster and its Italian sister Olive Garden. Whereas I've written about Red Lobster's Endless Shrimp promotion, I also found out that it's almost time for Olive Garden's Never Ending Pasta Bowl!

This is big news! After all, I've grown up eating all kinds of pasta starting with mac and cheese, working my way through bowls of spaghetti, and then plates of ziti and fettucine alfredo. I had only discovered Olive Garden a handful of years ago, and it was fine. I ordered an entrée, devoured the salad they brought to the table, munched on some breadsticks, and then ended up bringing home more than half my entrée. That's my kind of place: A tasty, clean restaurant with a lot of bang for the buck.

Side Note About Deals Worth Waiting For

One of the ideas that lead to the birth of DealsForALiving is that navigating deals and maximizing resources makes life easier and more joyful. It spans everything that I'm passionate about in food, technology, news and media consumption, the workday and my work, and in relationships. The more I can share these things, then the more I get to see and hear people benefiting from these deals, and these snippets of wisdom (that's how I see it).

Closest to my heart are national and international deals that are offered by big brands, because they are there for the taking by thousands, even millions, of people. What comes to mind are Labor Day sales on furniture, annual food events, Black Monday, Cyber Friday, and end of the year clearance sales.

The Details

So what exactly is the Olive Garden Never Ending Pasta Bowl?

  • You start with either soup or salad, and you have unlimited refills of whichever you choose.
  • You also get unlimited breadsticks
  • You then get to pick a type of pasta with a type of sauce, and for a premium, you can add a protein topping
  • Once you finish your first pairing of pasta and sauce, you can choose another pairing
  • And you get refills on the pasta, breadsticks, and either soup or salad until you quit
  • This promotion runs from September 22 - November 9

Per the Olive Garden website, the pricing starts at $9.99 for just the pasta and sauce combinations. You can add the proteins for $2.99 which is definitely worth it if you're planning on eating a few bowls or plates of pasta.

Never Ending Pasta Bowl 2014

Never Ending Pasta Bowl 2014
Never Ending Pasta Bowl 2014 | Source

Never Ending Pasta Pass

Never Ending Pasta Pass
Never Ending Pasta Pass | Source

Will you be partaking in Never Ending Pasta Bowl?

Will you be partaking in Never Ending Pasta Bowl?

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Competing Against Never Ending Pasta Bowl

Never Ending Pasta Pass

You also may have heard about Olive Garden's first time ever Never Ending Pasta Pass which costs $100 and allows the owner of the pass to eat as much pasta over the 7 week promotion as that person wants. That means if you're planning on lunch and dinner every day, then you're looking at some massive savings (and way too many carbs).

The bad news is that the first 1,000 passes sold out in two hours according to Olive Garden. But there are more on the way, and if you're interested, you have to follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

It's too intense for me, but I know that someone reading this loves pasta just enough to want one of these.

Ultra Combos

Clearly the fun to be had at Olive Garden for this promotion is to mix and match some tasty options and to keep eating until you need to undo your belt.

Here are your basic options:


  1. Spaghetti
  2. Angel Hair
  3. Fettucine
  4. Penne
  5. Cavatappi
  6. Whole Wheat Linguine

You'll notice that there's pretty good variety in the types of pasta, though I would have loved a tortellini or ravioli option.


  1. Spicy Three Meat
  2. Roasted Mushroom Alfredo
  3. Marinara
  4. Alfredo
  5. Five Cheese Marinara
  6. Meat Sauce

Essentially, this boils down to 3 sauces: Marinara, Meat, and Alfredo. I would have liked a vodka sauce or white wine sauce, but to be fair, most people are not going to eat more than 3 bowls of pasta so they'll end up trying one of the main 3 sauces.


  1. Shrimp Fritta
  2. Chicken Fritta
  3. Italian Sausage
  4. Meatballs

The big question every year is whether it's worth the additional $3 to add these proteins. Well, if you're planning on eating 3 bowls of pasta, then you're basically paying $1/bowl for a meat topping. As far as I'm concerned, getting meatballs or shrimp for a $1 is awesome!

Olive Garden has touted that there are over 150 configurations for your pasta bowl, and clearly that's the case. If you come hungry, you could end up trying a few of these combos.

Olive Garden

Olive Garden
Olive Garden | Source

Plan of Attack

As a veteran eater of buffets and all-you-can-eat establishments, allow me to share with you my plan of attack:

  1. Half bowl of salad. Starting off the meal with veggies will get my motor running and allow me to consume more pasta (and get more bang for my buck). No croutons though, I'll be eating enough carbs.
  2. Skip the breadsticks. How evil that they give you unlimited breadsticks to fill you up before your meal.
  3. Elect for meat. For $3 I'm going to elect for meat which will make my pasta bowls tastier and prevent this from becoming a painful austerity of carb loading.
  4. Angel hair with roasted mushroom alfredo and shrimp fritta. It just rolls off the tongue and clearly those shrimp are meant to be paired with a hearty, rich sauce and thin pasta.
  5. Cavatappi with marinara sauce and Italian sausage. I'm going to switch up gears with a polar opposite to keep my palate entertained.
  6. Spaghetti with spicy three meat sauce and meatballs. Here it is, the great mountain to be climbed. I'm going heavy on meat and pairing with spaghetti because they're the perfect combo. My only hope is that the spice in the sauce will keep me from being overwhelmed.
  7. Stomach permitting* Whole wheat linguine with five cheese marinara and chicken fritta. I'll likely be running on fumes, but at least I can eat the chicken before I call it quits.

And if I make it to the end, it's possible I will cry happy tears.

About DealForALiving

I believe that being frugal and making smart money choices is like any other exercise. As we continue to practice good habits in saving money where possible, finding deals for what we want, and having a good time at it, then we become better at dealing for a living.

I'm committed to sharing my experiences with getting the most out of using credit cards, saving and spending tips, and I might even add a slice of perspective without trying to be a psychoanalyst like some other personal finance folks out there.

Please let me know what you think and if you'd like to hear my take on a specific topic.

Most Sincerely,



DealForALiving | Source


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    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      This sounds like a great deal! I didn't know about this offer or many of the others you've written about before, so I appreciate all the info you offer on your different articles.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Thanks for the advice! It's so tempting to just let go for a day and eat like a ravaging beast, but you're right.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Definitely don't overdo it and gain weight!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      You're so right. I can definitely bury the diet for a day for the never ending pasta bowl but that $100 pass would probably end up making me 100 pounds heavier.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Too bad I do not need to gain weight. That never ending pasta bowl sounds like a good way to do it! Sadly I do not need help in that area. Sounds like a good deal...especially that $100 pass.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      It is awesome! It's almost a holiday for my friends and I - we innately know it's coming around the corner and we plan out our strategies.

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 3 years ago from The High Seas

      LOVE the never ending pasta bowl!

    • BNadyn profile image

      Bernadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      I prefer to cook things like pasta at home but I do enjoy Olive Garden's Never Ending Pasta Bowls. It is a great deal and I have food to bring home afterward. I do like going when I'm pretty hungry, though to get the most out of my meal.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      I'm an Olive Garden fan, too! Though I have done the Never Ending Pasta Bowl, my friends and I usually opt for the Never Ending Salad Bowl for lunch. A great business lunch deal.

      The other OG deal worth waiting for is the Buy One Get One to Take Home deal that they occasionally offer. Makes eating out a good deal!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      I enjoy Olive favorite deal there is the soup and salad. The salad really is my favorite part and of course the breadsticks. I am not so much on all you can eat anywherewhereas I can only eat a serving and then take the rest home.

      Now I am hungry for Olive Garden...:D Thanks for the share.

      Angels are on the way to you ps

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Yes, I always have a plan of attack for buffets. It lets me enjoy myself a bit more, and I'm always open to calling an audible if needed.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Yes, I can't wait. Olive Garden even has a counter on their website for folks like me that are waiting for the first day of Never Ending Pasta.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

      This is a great deal and I appreciate your plan of attack. It sounds something like my husband's strategy at buffets. Thank you for sharing!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      My daughter just noticed that they will be running this deal again soon. I think she wants to go there. :)

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Thanks for stopping by - I don't like to brag but I can put down some food~

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      When it's not Never Ending season, I'm the same way. It's tough to beat the value of effectively getting two meals for the price of one, not to mention that the salad and breadsticks taste good.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      We live Olive Garden and the never ending pasta bowl. I'm impressed... 3 bowls! I just heard about the $100 all you can eat. Interesting concept! Thanks for sharing all this info.!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      For me it's the never ending salad and sorry, the breadsticks! Just love them. Every time I eat there my meal becomes a take-out, because I'm so full from the salad.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Agreed - it's a keeper and one to look forward to every year!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      I have to say this is one of the best deals around! Thank you!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Oh no, well if you make it stateside anytime soon be sure to check it out. I doubt anyone likes to stuff themselves as much as the US of A.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Fettucine alfredo is a solid choice! I would definitely add some chicken or shrimp, but that's just me.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Agreed - genius move by Olive Garden. I wonder how many thousand more pasta passes they decide to sell, because there are people who will want to buy them.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      It would make a great documentary like "Super Size Me". Maybe I can pitch the idea and get funded to film it...

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Haha, you won't be the only one shoveling pasta into your mouth. 4 bowls or bust for me!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi, sounds terrific! we don't have this over here so what I want to know is, why not? lol! interesting stuff though, nell

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I love to eat at the Olive Garden, my favorite, fettucine alfredo, yummy!

    • momsdoworkathome profile image

      Katina Davenport 3 years ago from Michigan

      I heard about this on the news last night. I think I gained 10lbs just hearing about it. LOL That's a lot of pasta. If you love it then it might be worth it. Also, great marketing from the Olive Garden.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 3 years ago from Kansas

      We saw a piece about this on tv, and were talking about it. I would probably gain 20 pounds before it ended.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      LOL amazing hubs so far I love the concept as mentioned before and I love the olive garden so that person sitting behind you shoveling pasta in his mouth in which you swear you hear him getting fat would be me :)

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Thanks for stopping by. My thoughts exactly!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Good luck getting your hands on one! Whenever they're available again, they're going to go really quick!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      That's right - it's the annual rite of passage to carb heaven.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      I'm not the only one, after all!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      It all sounds good to me!

    • indanila profile image

      Inda Blackwell 3 years ago from Hampton Roads

      Wow! I am so happy you have informed us about the "Pasta Pass", I have a family member that would love that!!!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I heard David Letterman joking about this last night and lo and behold it's no joke. Seriously? A lot of people are going to loosen their belts on this deal. Thanks for verifying!

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Olive Garden is one of my favorite restaurants. That and Red Lobster.

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Definitely not a carry over from Squidoo. When I start typing, watch out!

      Hope you can make it to Olive Garden for this year's promotion. It sounds as good as ever.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You either write very fast, or this is a carryover from Squidoo. :) I love Olive Garden, and this really is a great deal.