Pastas You Should And Shouldn't Order From Cheesecake Factory

Today, The Cheesecake Factory serves a heck of a lot more than just delicious slices of the dessert. In fact, there are over 250 items to choose from, which means that no matter what you're longing for, it's more than likely you can find it while flipping through the menu. What started out as just a simple dessert bakery in the 1940s has since exploded into one of the most popular chain restaurants in the country. And yes, even though it serves up a plethora of different foods, you can still snag yourself a darn good piece of cheesecake for a post-dinner treat.

A menu that contains so many items can certainly feel overwhelming when you sit down and are handed a small novel of food to flip through. However, once you narrow down your craving to one category, you're treated to a variety of options. For anyone who loves pasta, The Cheesecake Factory offers a lovely array of options with some great combinations of ingredients. But, as with any restaurant, there are gold-medal winning dishes and ones that don't deserve a spot on the leaderboard. Keep in mind this list of which pastas you should and shouldn't order the next time you're at the restaurant and carbs are calling your name.

Should Order: Bistro Shrimp

If you're looking for a pasta that has a little surf included (and why wouldn't you?), a really great option is the bistro shrimp pasta dish. You get a heaping bowl of spaghettini noodles tossed with mushrooms, tomatoes, and arugula all coated in a delicious basil-garlic-lemon cream sauce. It's not heavy like a fettucini alfredo, but it does a perfect job of filling up your belly and leaving you more than satisfied once you take that final bite.

The shrimp is battered and fried, so every little succulent crustacean gives each forkful a wonderful crunch to offset the soft pasta noodles, and this contrast makes for a delightful mouthfeel. You can really taste the mushrooms and the tomatoes. The earthiness of the mushrooms combines with the sweet bursts of flavor from the tomatoes to add even more levels of flavor to everything. But, it's the cream sauce that really lassos in everything. Even though there are three different ingredients at play -– garlic, basil, and lemon -– none of them overpowers the other, and you get a nice balance of all three.

Should Order: Pasta Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci was a master at his craft, which is why his name is so prevalent throughout history. So, when you read about a pasta dish that also has the last name of the artist, you immediately expect it to work on an elevated level, and this dish absolutely does. You get penne pasta tossed in a sweet Madeira wine sauce with sauteed chicken, mushrooms, and onions. Three simple ingredients come together to paint one heck of a culinary piece of art for your stomach.

The chicken used here is cooked to perfection, with each piece of meat soaked in delicious juices that cascade over your palate when you bite into them. Chicken can often feel dry in pasta, leaving the sauce the job of giving it a juicy sensation, but not here. The chicken alone carries with it enough great flavor. You get a good wallop of woodsy flavor from the delicate mushrooms, and then the sweetness of the onions hits your mouth like a George Foreman jab. The Madeira wine sauce has a lovely sweetness to it that helps balance out the richness of the chicken, but it also adds some acidity to the dish so things don't become overly sweet. Da Vinci would feel proud that his name is attached to this dish.

Should Order: Pasta Carbonara

Carbonara is a classic pasta dish that always hits home when you're in the mood for a bowl of noodles tossed with vivid flavors, and the pasta carbonara at The Cheesecake Factory is no exception. You get a bowl of spaghetti noodles tossed with smoked bacon and green peas in a garlic-Parmesan cream sauce. There aren't many ingredients working here, but that doesn't matter because the flavors that are present in the dish do their due diligence and will have you smiling in just a few bites.

The ingredient here that really stands out is the smoked bacon. There are tiny bits of perfectly crispy bacon throughout the noodles, so every bite you take has a wonderfully rich, salty burst of flavor that complements the sweetness that the green peas offer. Plus, the bacon also gives a great crunch to offset the soft texture of the noodles and peas. The cream sauce does a phenomenal job of displaying the full flavor of both the garlic and Parmesan cheese. The cheese has a salty nuttiness to it, and the garlic gives that zesty bite that counterbalances the cheese flavor.

Should Order: Cacio E Pepe

Cacio e pepe purists expect only two main ingredients in the dish: cheese and pepper. When those two come together under the supervision of someone who really knows how to whip up the dish, it's incredible. At The Cheesecake Factory, you can order a version of cacio e pepe that the menu states is "not so traditional" as it introduces a couple other elements. However, this option is still a fantastic choice.

The spaghetti noodles that come with the dish are tossed with both Romano and Parmesan cheese, arugula, diced red pepper, and a boatload of fresh ground black pepper. Pepper is literally in this pasta's name, and that's the ingredient that cuts through every other flavor like a knife. The pepper gives every bite a loud kick of zestiness that joins forces with the tangy saltiness from both cheeses. You really get smacked with a strong pepper-and-cheese sensation, and it's awesome. The arugula and diced red peppers definitely play a backseat role here, but they do give the dish an aesthetically pleasing appearance, which always makes the food taste a little better.

Should Order: Louisiana Chicken

Louisiana, specifically New Orleans, is one of those places you have to put on your bucket list if you consider yourself a foodie. There are so many restaurants and amazing dishes throughout the city, and it would be such a waste to go through your whole life without experiencing the amazing Cajun flavors that surge through so many of the menus there. If you've never been to New Orleans but still want to experience the great food it offers, look no further than the Louisiana chicken pasta.

The dish comes with bowtie pasta topped with breaded Parmesan-crusted chicken filets and tossed with mushrooms, peppers, and onions in a spicy New Orleans sauce. The chicken is perfectly cooked here, with a wonderfully golden Parmesan crust that houses a juicy piece of protein underneath. The trio of veggies offers some sweet, earthy, and bright flavors. But, it's the sauce that really plays a tune on your palate. It has a kick of spice, but it's not overly hot, and it adds a smooth creamy texture to the crunchy breading on the chicken.

Should Order: Fettuccine Alfredo

You don't always want a meal that's so heavy that it's gonna sit in your stomach like cement and leave you feeling like you need a three-hour nap before you can tackle the remainder of your day. But, sometimes you absolutely want a bowl full of carbs and fat because hey, it's really freakin' delicious. When the mood to put yourself into a food coma strikes, there's one particular dish that comes to mind: fettuccine alfredo.

The fettuccine alfredo at The Cheesecake Factory has two simple ingredients: fettuccine pasta and Parmesan cream sauce. Keep in mind this dish is super heavy, but it is so darn tasty as well. The thick fettuccine noodles are the perfect vessel to help as much of the sauce as possible cling to each bite. The cream sauce packs a powerful punch of Parmesan, giving a luscious, salty flavor that coats your mouth and doesn't leave until long after the meal is over. Put your inhibitions on a shelf, and treat yourself to a bowl of this amazing pasta.

Should Order: Cajun Jambalaya

A little bit of spice in a dish is a nice extra touch to help elevate the flavors in the rest of the ingredients. But, some people opt for a meal that's gonna send flames over their palates and leave their mouth feeling a bit scorched afterward. These kinds of dishes definitely aren't for everyone, but heat enthusiasts can't get enough of them. If you are seeking out something that'll set the fire alarms off in your mouth, look no further than the Cajun jambalaya pasta at The Cheesecake Factory.

This zesty dish comes with linguine noodles tossed with sautéed shrimp and chicken, tomatoes, onions, and peppers all doused in a Cajun sauce that'll have you clamoring for water after only a few bites. Obviously, if you don't enjoy spicy food, you should avoid this dish at all costs. But for those who do like a kick, this is a must-order dish. The shrimp and the chicken are sautéed to perfection. The chicken is super juicy, and the shrimp are plump little morsels that erupt with the sweet and salty flavors of the ocean. The vegetables ensures you get some healthy stuff in your belly, which is always a plus. The Cajun sauce is what knocks this dish out of the park. It has such a deep, robust flavor that really gets into the nooks and crannies of your tongue for a hearty heat-filled experience.

Shouldn't Order: Tomato Basil

Many pasta lovers fall into two separate categories: those who love a rich, creamy sauce, and the others who prefer a tomato-based sauce. Obviously, you can dissect the groups more as you start talking about ingredient preferences, but most everyone falls into either the red sauce or white sauce category. If you're a red sauce pasta eater, you might find yourself drawn to the tomato basil dish. But you should turn around, take your appetite back to where it came from, and pick a different route to travel.

The dish comes with penne pasta tossed with chunks of mozzarella cheese, a little bit of garlic, and grilled chicken. There are a few issues at play here. First, the texture of the chicken is overly dry, even with the addition of the sauce. This is the first red flag. The other problem is with the morsels of mozzarella cheese. The little white nuggets are very chewy, and they don't have that creamy-but-firm consistency you expect from the cheese. The sauce is okay, lending a sweet tomato flavor to the whole dish, but the problem ingredients in the sauce make this a hard pass.

Shouldn't Order: Evelyn's Favorite

Pasta isn't exactly known as a cuisine that's meant to narrow your waistline and prepare your body for bikini season. But that doesn't mean you can't add a bunch of ingredients to bump up the health factor so you don't feel as guilty devouring a heaping bowl of it. Evelyn's Favorite is a Cheesecake Factory option that comes chock-full of veggies, but sadly, the overall execution of the dish doesn't make this worth your money.

The penne pasta this dish comes with is tossed with broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh herbs, and Parmesan cheese. Yes, there's a wide array of veggies here, but it's an overwhelming amount. When you order pasta, you want the pasta to take center stage and the rest of the ingredients to play background roles. However, you're so inundated with veggies here that the penne is completely overshadowed. To make matters even worse, the flavor of the veggies is quite bland, and even with the addition of the Parmesan cheese, they struggle to keep their heads above water.

Shouldn't Order: Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic

When you're hit with the pungency of roasted garlic, that smoky, sweet taste drifts throughout your mouth and into your nostrils, and you get a lovely shot of buttery, zesty flavor that makes every other ingredient it's paired with that much better. So when you see the farfalle with chicken and roasted garlic pasta dish on The Cheesecake Factory menu, you obviously want to give it a shot. But be warned: You'll likely find yourself regretting the decision after the first bite.

The farfalle (bowtie) pasta comes with chunks of chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, pancetta, peas, and caramelized onions all tossed in a roasted garlic and Parmesan cream sauce. The sauce that's supposed to marry all of the ingredients together with a delicious flavor absolutely lacks a punch of both Parmesan and roasted garlic, and that's a huge letdown since it's coating everything in the bowl. The only ingredient that really stands out here is the pancetta due to its saltiness, but that flavor alone can't carry an entire dish. The chicken has a decent texture, but it lacks flavor, and the rest of veggies fall into the exact same bland category. There is some sweetness thanks to the caramelized onions, but again, that taste alone doesn't make this work.

Shouldn't Order: Spicy Chicken Chipotle

One of the most appealing-sounding pastas on The Cheesecake Factory menu is the spicy chicken chipotle. You read the ingredients and think, "How could this possibly be a miss?" You get penne pasta tossed in a spicy chipotle Parmesan cream sauce with honey-glazed chicken, asparagus, diced red and yellow peppers, peas, onions, and garlic. C'mon now. You can't go wrong with that combination of flavors, right? As it turns out, you absolutely can.

If you're someone who feels a warm rush of excitement when you know you're about to eat something spicy, that excitement is going to fall flat very quickly. This dish doesn't have the proper amount of heat for something with the word "spicy" in its name. So that's a bummer. The honey-glazed chicken, which should taste sweet to help balance out the spiciness, feels very dry, and the honey flavor is far from prevalent. The veggies in the dish create some texture but no real additional flavor. The one thing you can say about the cream sauce is you can definitely taste the Parmesan, but overall, this is one pasta dish that shouldn't hit the table.

Shouldn't Order: Four Cheese

It's tough not to love cheese. Unless you're lactose intolerant or have a really good reason to not enjoy the stuff, gobbling down a block of creamy cheese is nothing short of a blast. If you consider yourself something of a cheese fanatic, then your attention will definitely fall on the four cheese pasta dish as you peruse The Cheesecake Factory menu. How could you not order a pasta dish with not one, not two, not even three, but four cheeses to wallop you in the palate and scratch every cheesy itch you have? Well, there are actually a couple reasons why you shouldn't.

The four cheeses that combine to make this dish are mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, and Romano, and they're all tossed with penne pasta and fresh basil. For whatever reason, the penne pasta is al dente to a fault. The noodles are all tough and have a very unpleasant mouthfeel when you bite into them. You may get the occasional soft texture, but overall they're quite unappetizing. Another big issue is the distribution of the cheese throughout the pasta. You'd like to think all four flavors of cheese would work as a team to create an ultimate cheesy taste, but the truth is that the ricotta cheese takes center stage, and the others fall to the side and are barely even noticeable. If you love ricotta and tough pasta, this might be a home run. But let's be honest. Not many people do.