Fast Food Pasta Chains Ranked From Worst To Best

Ah, pasta. Done right, it's no less than the epitome of culinary patience and a chef's precision. Picture this: A seasoned hand slowly kneading the dough, each fold a testament to careful attention and generations of culinary tradition. Nearby a pot of water, perfectly salted, sends up languid bubbles as it helps the pasta reach al dente perfection. Meanwhile, the sauce is a labor of love and is simmering with unhurried care, its flavors melding together in a slow and delicious dance.

Good pasta is like art: it's timeless, intricate, and undeniably soul-soothing. But, alas, art takes time, and the relentless pace of our modern lives leaves little room for such luxuries. So let's take a moment to thank the fast food pasta chains that give us that cheesy kick of pasta nostalgia at double the speed and sometimes even half the price, whenever and wherever we want. But, in this vast realm of quick-fix pasta joints, which restaurant truly reigns supreme?

Whether you're a fan of classic American spaghetti and meatballs or have a penchant for more avant-garde noodle creations, we've done our homework. From the dependable to the daring, we sifted through many restaurant menus to present this ranking of some of the best pasta havens in the nation. So, sit tight, twirl your fork, and dive into our ranking of some of the most popular fast food pasta chains.

10. Pastabilities

Pastabilities has been a culinary cornerstone since it first opened in Syracuse, New York in 1982. Its pasta choices range from delicate angel hair to robust rigatoni and include gluten-free penne and rotini. Its palette of sauces is also nothing short of a culinary rainbow. Want to go green? Its Vegan Basil-Walnut Pesto will do the trick. Looking for some red heat? The Spicy Hot Tomato Oil is a firecracker. Let's not forget the ultimate comfort dish: the Creamy Mac and Cheese Bake.

With a name that suggests endless culinary creativity, this is a place where you can craft a dish that resonates with your mood, palate, or even daily whims. But with such an array of choices, not every combination might be a home run. Finding your perfect plate could be a matter of trial and error that takes time.

The hybrid form of quick-bite lunch spot and sit-down dinner restaurant might not resonate with everyone's dining expectations. If you're reading this list, you're probably on the more fast-casual side of the spectrum, so this fusion service restaurant may not be quite up your alley.

9. Piada Italian Street Food

With a menu that makes it seem as if Italy had a wild summer fling with fast-casual dining, Piada Italian Street Food brings Italian cuisine to American streets. Boasting over 40 locations sprinkled across seven states, Piada is known for its signature Piada wraps (which are drool-worthy), but its pasta offerings can undoubtedly stir the pot (or pan, in this case).

Its Carbonara Pasta is a mouthwatering mishmash of parmesan alfredo, bruschetta tomatoes, pancetta, and spinach. Feeling a bit fiery? The chain's Diavolo Pasta, laden with spicy diavolo sauce and bruschetta tomatoes, is bound to ignite your taste buds. The restaurant's create-your-own dish option is your pasta playground where you can choose from grass-fed meatballs to calamari and hot peppers, which you can top with some slightly audacious options such as strawberries and glazed pecans.

While Piada's assembly line format is a godsend for those days when you're just too hangry to wait, being the "Italian Chipotle", as some dinners have called it, isn't all spaghetti and meatballs. The efficient assembly line can make the dining experience feel a bit impersonal. Additionally, with such an extensive menu, the consistency of menu items can waver. You might find the Carbonara singing a delicious symphony on a Tuesday, but playing an off-tune melody that Friday.

8. Sbarro

With its beginnings in 1956 Brooklyn, the name Sbarro conjures up the delightful smell of fresh pizza dough and the hustle and bustle of shopping mall food courts. But we're not here for the chain's glorious triangular pizza delights. Instead, we're looking for what Mama Sbarro was first cooking up on the pasta front — which Sbarro claims is still made with the same love, tradition, and authenticity that its first chef brought to the table. 

This includes the chain's Baked Ziti, a luscious concoction of three cheeses and tangy tomato sauce, where every bite feels like a warm hug. And if you fancy something classic, Spaghetti and Meatballs is the epitome of comfort food – simple, hearty, and just like Mama used to make. But when it comes to the pasta menu, Sbarro's is a little conservative. The options are scant, making repeat visits a tad monotonous for pasta aficionados. While much of the charm of Sbarro lies in its convenience, some argue that quality has taken a backseat. Bankruptcies and menu critiques aren't the best marinaras on the pasta if you get our drift.

With over 700 locations in high-traffic areas like airports and college campuses, Sbarro ensures you're never too far from an Italian-American fix. While it might not win awards for gourmet excellence, it promises a steadfast and familiar taste. In today's ever-evolving culinary landscape, there's something undeniably comforting about that. Italian-American nostalgia fused with the convenience of fast food — that's Sbarro for you.

7. Pizza Hut

Ah, Pizza Hut. The name alone transports us back to childhood birthdays and weekend treats. But we're shifting the spotlight away from the restaurant's namesake pizza and diving fork-first into the chain's pasta realm. Conceived in 1958 by two Wichita State University students, Pizza Hut has since cemented its status as a global pizza monarch. With an astonishing 19,034 outlets spanning the globe as of 2022, it's safe to say that this fast food titan has successfully staked its doughy dominion far and wide.

As for the pasta, you can dive into a sea of creamy Cheesy Alfredo sauce with tender grilled chicken and copious amounts of cheese, or else the restaurant's Italian Meats medley made with sweet tomato sauce, zesty pepperoni, and hearty Italian sausage, all cozying up under a layer of molten cheese. And for those who like their pasta with a side of garden goodness, you have veggie sweet tomato sauce mingling with green peppers, onions, tomatoes, black olives, and oven-baked cheese. Pizza Hut has seemingly everything under its iconic red roof. But don't forget to give a nod to Pizza Hut's breadsticks that it so generously pairs with the pasta. We all know it's unbeatable.

Unfortunately, Pizza Hut is, first and foremost, a pizza joint. The pasta options are somewhat limited, especially when juxtaposed with its exhaustive pizza menu. While its plates of pasta may not have garnered as much fame as its pizzas, Pizza Hut's pasta is a dependable fast pasta choice.

6. Portillo's

When one thinks of Chicago street food, Portillo's inevitably comes to mind, thanks in part to the unmistakable waft of freshly-grilled hot dogs and, of course, its delectable pasta dishes. Portillo's journey began in 1963 as a humble hot dog stand in Villa Park, Illinois. Today, while its hot dogs remain a legendary fixture of the Chicago culinary scene, its pasta offerings are also commendable.

While it's surprising for many diners to see pasta on Portillo's menu, give them a try. Its Penne Ala Vodka is a creamy dream, with zesty tomato vodka sauce mingling with penne noodles. For those who like their pasta with a kick, the Penne al Arrabbiata doesn't disappoint with spicy marinara, fragrant basil, and a generous sprinkle of parmesan that makes it "The Hot One" you'd love to date! For the traditionalists, classics like spaghetti and fettuccine alfredo will help to ensure that everyone leaves with a satisfied belly and smile.

All told, Portillo's offers a tasty fusion of classic Chicago street food and delectable Italian pasta, catering to a broad spectrum of palates. Plus, we can't deny that there's something nostalgic and heartwarming about Portillo's that makes it a true part of Chicago. But while its pasta range is delightful, it doesn't necessarily outshine the chain's signature dishes. And for those who are looking for a purely Italian-American dining experience, Portillo's more diverse menu might prove to be a bit distracting.

5. Giordano's

Giordano's is a name that, for many, is synonymous with Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. But don't sleep on its lesser-known pasta menu. While deep-dish pizzas are a defining feature of Giordano's and Chicago food in general, its under-the-radar pasta dishes are certainly nothing to scoff at.

Take its Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken & Broccoli. This dish is a creamy dance of flavors that sees chicken and broccoli waltzing together in a rich sauce. For diners who are sensitive to gluten, the gluten-free pasta option ensures that no one will be left behind. Meanwhile, its spaghetti is simplicity at its finest. So, whether you're diving into the vegetarian marinara or the bolognese meat sauce, you're guaranteed dishes that are all house-made and practically oozing authenticity.

Giordano's offers the unique advantage of combining two beloved dishes under one roof. Imagine a bite of deep-dish pizza followed by a forkful of pasta. That's a culinary dream come true! But while one could argue that Giordano's pasta dishes are delightful, they can be overshadowed by the legendary reputation of its pizzas.

While Giordano's has rightfully earned accolades for its take on deep-dish pizza, its pasta dishes are steadily carving out a niche of their own. So, the next time you find yourself at a Giordano's location, remember that beyond the cheesy pizza horizon lies a pasta paradise that is just waiting for you to explore it.

4. Domino's

When you spot the Domino's logo, you likely think of pizza, game nights, and family treats. But beyond its famed pies lies a noteworthy pasta selection on the Domino's menu. Who'd have thunk, right?

From its humble beginnings as a local restaurant in 1960 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Domino's has evolved into a global sensation. But these days, it's not just about the pizzas. From its Pasta Primavera where fresh vegetables meet a luscious sauce and its meaty Italian Sausage Marinara, you are promised a hearty experience with robust flavors for fast food prices. For those who are a little extra picky or who just want to unleash their inner chef, the Build Your Own Pasta option on its menu is yours for the tweaking.

Not only that, but Domino's also guarantees made-to-order pasta, so there are no reheats, just fresh bowls of comfort. With its vast delivery network, pasta bliss is merely a phone call away. However, being a pizza-centric chain means its pasta sometimes feels like an afterthought. And while its delivery is quick, this might lead to inconsistencies in taste and appearance. Traditional pasta aficionados might yearn for deeper, more authentic flavors.

In the grand scheme of fast food, Domino's has cemented its place as a go-to for quick, tasty meals. Its pasta offerings, while not as iconic as its pizzas, are slowly but surely making their mark. So, the next time you're ordering that large pepperoni pizza, maybe give that pasta menu a second glance.

3. Vapiano

Bridging the gap between fast food and gourmet, the Vapiano journey started in 2002 when the concept of blending fast-casual dining with high-quality ingredients and personalized dishes gained relatively instant acclaim. In 2023, the chain reemerged in the U.S. after closing down in 2020, amplifying its reputation as a sought-after dining destination.

Its emphasis on fresh, handmade pasta ensures that whatever sauce you pick complements it more than well. Take the Crema di Funghi, where your favorite mushrooms and white wine are swirled into a creamy sauce, or the Filetto di Manzo con Vino Rosso for the meat lovers who only want tender beef tenderloin bathed in a rich, creamy wine sauce. Then, there's the Carbonara Salmone, a coastal spin on the classic dish with salmon and onions swimming in a creamy egg-based sauce. No matter the sauce, this place has got you covered.

Vapiano's strength lies in its commitment to customization. It hands the reins over to you, helping ensure that every dish resonates with you. But while the customization and the upscale ambiance of Vapiano are a big selling point, for those who find themselves to be in a mad rush, Vapiano might feel a tad slow. But, still, Vapiano gracefully waltzes between the worlds of fast food and fine dining. It's less of a "grab-and-go" and more of a "relax and savor" kind of experience. Whether you're on a date, with family, or simply treating yourself, Vapiano promises an experience as well as a satisfying meal.

2. Fazoli's

The tagline says it all: Fast. Fresh. Italian. Fazoli's isn't just about dishing out pasta, though. It's also about serving memories (with a side of garlic breadsticks, of course). Headquartered in Kentucky and with over 200 locations as of 2023, Fazoli's has woven itself into the fabric of American fast food dining.

Veering away from more traditional Italian-American fare, Fazoli's embraces the best of American-Italian fusion. The chain's Twice Baked Lasagna is a testament to its commitment to comfort food — because why bake once when you can do so twice? Meanwhile, its Loaded Fettuccine and Loaded Baked Spaghetti will make you wish you saved more room. But the showstopper is the Ultimate Sampler. It's like a grand Italian opera on a plate, featuring Fettuccine Alfredo, Penne with Meat Sauce, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Lasagna with Meat Sauce. It's a feast that screams, "Go big or go home!"

By marrying classic Italian dishes with an American twist, Fazoli's has crafted a menu that resonates with a vast audience. The generous portions ensure you're leaving with a full belly and more for later. Its commitment to fast and fresh meals ensures you're getting quality without the agonizing wait.

However, purists might argue that in a bid to Americanize, some authentic Italian flavors might get lost in translation. The emphasis on loaded dishes can be a tad heavy for those seeking lighter, more traditional pasta meals. Fazoli's is like that big Italian-American family gathering — loud, loving, and always laden with food.

1. Noodles & Company

From the streets of Tokyo to the picturesque rolling hills of Tuscany, Noodles & Company is your ticket to a flavor-packed world tour without leaving your city. Dive into this pasta-forward chain's menu and you'll see that it's a global feast. Its Everyday Value Pasta brings timeless favorites from the cozy, cheese-laden embrace of the Wisconsin Mac & Cheese and the good old comfort of Buttered Noodles. The Asian Noodles category pops with vibrant dishes like Pad Thai and Spicy Korean Beef Noodles. Macaroni and cheese lovers are in for a treat with the array of macaroni-based dishes on the menu, be it the savory heat of the Buffalo Chicken Mac or the considerate, gluten-sensitive nature of the Pipette Mac.

Variety is this chain's ace in the hole. It serves almost everything, from spicy Asian meals to warm Western comforts. You can mix, match, and make just about every dish uniquely yours. With 468 U.S. locations as of 2023 and plenty of accolades, Noodles & Company truly stands apart from the competition. Still, while the sheer variety is commendable, it might be a tad overwhelming for the indecisive diner and some may miss more authentic Italian fares.

Venturing into the Noodles & Company menu is akin to embarking on a global gastronomic journey. Noodles & Company isn't just about food; it's a celebration of flavors, cultures, and culinary excellence. Its commitment to quality, variety, and customer satisfaction is palpable, earning it the well-deserved top spot on our list.