Chain Restaurant Baked Ziti Ranked Worst To Best, According To Customers

Baked ziti is an Italian American casserole-style dish made with ziti, or tube-shaped pasta, sauce, cheese, and additional ingredients such as sausage and vegetables. This dish commonly features a tomato-based marinara sauce and is topped with cheeses such as Parmesan, mozzarella, and ricotta.

While the exact history of baked ziti is unknown, baked pasta dishes were already around in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance where they were usually served to the upper classes at celebrations such as weddings. Interestingly, the term "ziti" is derived from "zite," an Italian word that translates to "bride." Today, baked ziti remains very popular in Southern Italy, including Sicily and Campania.

Baked ziti in the U.S. draws its roots from the culinary traditions of Italian immigrants who adapted their native recipes to the ingredients and tastes of the new country. As such, there's no specific recipe for the dish; rather it represents a culinary journey that blends a variety of ingredients and traditions. With this in mind, here are some of the best — and worst — chain restaurants to try the Italian pasta dish, as rated by customers.

11. Pastini

Pastini is a small chain with eight locations in Oregon, so we won't hold it against you if you've never heard of it. Being a small operation, the restaurant sources all of its produce from local suppliers to ensure the best possible quality and a minimal environmental footprint. When it comes to its ziti, Pastini offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions of the dish. For carnivores, the Baked Ziti With Italian Sausage comes with fennel sausage, tomato and cream sauce, and Parmesan. For herbivores, the Ziti Con Broccolini features sautéed broccolini, toasted hazelnuts, garlic, organic herbs, and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Despite the modest size of its operations, Pastini's baked ziti hasn't quite hit the mark with most diners. While some have praised the dish, saying that it was delicious and tasted fresh, others haven't been quite as generous in their feedback. One Yelp reviewer says, "It was just some uninspired ziti tossed with sauce [and] sliced sausage, poured into a dish with a topping of cheese and put in an oven for a few minutes. The top had hardly any sauce and neither did the bottom." Another Yelp customer agrees with this assessment, saying, "This baked ziti was not baked. What I got was an oblong 'pasta boat' filled with ziti noodles and some thin slices of Italian sausage covered in this odd, thin, flavorless 'petpo bismal pink' sauce. And on top of this, a sparse dairy helmet of mozzarella melted under the salamander."

10. The Spaghetti Warehouse

What makes The Spaghetti Warehouse stand out from the pack, isn't just its food. Many of the chain's restaurants are located in historical buildings, blending an Italian culinary experience with a touch of history. Additionally, most Spaghetti Warehouse restaurants feature a vintage trolley car, where guests can feast on the chain's offerings such as the 15-Layer Lasagne, Chicken Parmigiana, and Baked Ziti.

Featuring meat sauce, garlic butter sauce, as well as a blend of ricotta and mozzarella, Spaghetti Warehouse's Baked Ziti has elicited varied feedback from diners. One reviewer on Checkle describes the dish as "well made, tasty, large portioned, and hot," while another calls it amazing, noting that both the portion size and quality justify its price tag. Turning to the drawbacks, one Tripadvisor diner refers to the dish as "lean cuisine quality microwave food, fed thru a salamander to slightly warm or melt the cheese." Another reviewer calls the chain's Baked Ziti a gloomy mess, and yet another says that the sauce tasted a little like dishwater.

9. Sbarro

The team at Sbarro refers to the chain's Baked Ziti as a "crowd-favorite" and the restaurant's "best kept secret." Baked with a zesty tomato sauce, as well as a blend of ricotta, mozzarella, and Romano cheeses, the Baked Ziti is Sbarro's signature pasta dish. When the Sbarro pizza manager was asked on Reddit to explain why the restaurant's Baked Ziti is so delicious, their response was simple. "[It's due to] the ricotta cheese we use, and the mozzarella. Our cheese is a whole milk mozzarella cheese that we shred on site every day. It doesn't come pre-shredded, it comes in big giant blocks of cheese that we prep every day."

Despite the high praise from the chain's staff, Sbarro's Baked Ziti has received a mixed response from diners. Several customers have applauded the dish for being mouth-watering, cheesy, and their overall favorite item on the menu. On the other hand, others have described it as dry, tasteless, and overly spicy. One Tripadvisor reviewer goes as far as calling the Baked Ziti the worst pasta they have ever tasted, adding, "Not sure if it was spoiled, made wrong or is just a bad product for this company. After taking a couple of bites, I determined that it was inedible."

8. BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse

With more than 200 locations across the U.S., BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse offers a diverse menu that includes deep-dish pizzas, salads, sandwiches, pastas, steaks, and burgers. One item listed in the menu's pasta section is the Deep Dish Ziti. This culinary offering is generously filled with meatballs, Italian sausage, and diced pepperoni. It's then smothered in both tangy marinara and creamy Alfredo sauce. For the finishing touch, the ziti is topped with a rich five-cheese blend, sprinkled with Parmesan, and garnished with fresh basil. Finally, just like its name suggests, the ziti is baked and served in a deep dish.

Standing testament to the fact that when it comes to baked ziti more ingredients aren't always better, BJ's Deep Dish Ziti has received both praise and criticism from diners. One happy Tripadvisor diner praises the dish, saying, "The [...] baked deep dish ziti was very good with a hint of spiciness in it, along with lots of meat." Unfortunately, not everybody agrees with this assessment, with some diners complaining of small portion size, lack of sauce, and overall greasiness. One Yelp reviewer explains, "The Baked Ziti I ordered for delivery was unacceptable. [...] It barely covered the bottom of the small foil container it is served in. [...] I've ordered the Baked Ziti for years and I can honestly say that the portion was only about 1/3 of the portions I've received in the past."

7. Bambinelli's Italian Restaurant

With only four locations in Georgia, it's understandable if you've never heard of Bambinelli's Italian Restaurant. However, if you're a native Georgian, there's a good chance you've dined at this restaurant at least once. Operated by the Bambinelli family for almost four decades, this little slice of Italy serves a plethora of dishes, from pizzas and pasta to other Italian classics, such as Baked Ziti. Made with mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, and homemade tomato sauce, the culinary creation comes with a house salad and garlic rolls.

Bambinelli's Baked Ziti has received mostly favorable reviews from diners, with several diners calling the dish delicious. One reviewer on Restaurant Guru who ordered the Baked Ziti praises the restaurant, saying, "Great food. Great staff. Great parking. It's definitely worth going to, and I would go again." On the downside, not everybody has been as impressed with the chain and its Baked Ziti, with one DoorDash reviewer saying, "Everything tasted like frozen meals. Way too wet as well. [...] Overpriced for the quality. I will say that the portions were very generous, though."

6. Rosebud Restaurants

With nine locations and the 10th one in the making — a Rosebud restaurant is set to open in Boca Raton, Florida, in 2024 — the Rosebud Restaurant group has been feeding hungry Italian fare enthusiasts for close to five decades. Despite its extensive menu, according to the Rosebud staff, the Baked Ziti is a house favorite. Served with tomatoes, roasted garlic, crumbled Italian sausage, and mozzarella, the pasta dish can be prepared with gluten-free pasta on request.

Rosebud's Baked Ziti has received mostly positive reviews from customers. One Tripadvisor reviewer says that the chain serves great Italian food, adding, "Everything was delicious. [...] We had the baked ziti..which was large enough to share! [...] We will definitely return!" Meanwhile, the Chicago Mag calls the restaurant's dishes "unpretentious food for unpretentious people," elaborating that the Baked Ziti they were served was "oversized, oversauced, and oversalted." On a somewhat negative note, one reviewer notes that the service at the restaurant was very fast, speculating that its Baked Ziti isn't made to order.

5. Buca di Beppo

Buca di Beppo began serving its family-style meals from the basement of an apartment building in Minneapolis in 1993. In fact, the name Buca di Beppo translates to "Joe's small place" reflecting the chain's humble beginnings. Today, the classic Italian eatery boasts more than 60 locations across the U.S. and one outlet in Manila, Philippines. Aside from pizzas, salads, and shareable sides, Buca di Beppo serves a huge range of pasta, including Baked Ziti with mozzarella, provolone and rosa sauce, as well as ricotta and Italian-style bread crumbs.

Buca di Beppo Baked Ziti has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from customers, with one diner even saying that the dish took them back to their Italian roots. A DoorDash diner says that the chain's Baked Ziti is probably the best item on the restaurant's menu, adding, "Nice [and] cheesy with little pieces of tomato in the sauce and topped with breadcrumbs, it's so perfect." A Tripadvisor reviewer agrees, saying, "It was amazing; soft, creamy, tasty and more than enough." On a negative note, one patron calls the ziti ordinary, comparing it to a cafeteria-quality meal.

4. Fazoli's

With three versions of baked ziti on its menu, Fazoli's is well-versed in this Italian classic. Its standard version of the dish features penne smothered in marinara and meat sauce and topped with provolone and mozzarella cheeses. The chain also serves Spicy Baked Ziti with Chicken and Spicy Baked Ziti with Sausage. Both versions of the dish come with a spicy tomato pepper sauce, a provolone and mozzarella cheese blend, and either garlic-roasted chicken or Italian sausage. According to Fazoli's, the spicy tomato pepper sauce is a combination of marinara sauce, Alfredo sauce, Parmesan, and crushed Calabrian peppers sourced from Italy.

The baked ziti at Fazoli's has been warmly received by most guests, with many customers noting that the dish always meets their expectations. One Yelp reviewer says, "I had the big ziti with sausage in a marinara sauce. This is my third time here and it does not disappoint." Another customer agrees, saying that the chain's baked ziti was the best they have ever sampled. On the flip side, one reviewer doesn't seem as impressed with the menu offering, calling it bland — we are guessing they probably had the standard ziti without the Calabrian pepper sauce.

3. Piesanos Stone Fired Pizza

If you don't reside in Florida, you probably won't be familiar with Piesanos Stone Fired Pizza. Nevertheless, the chain has gone from strength to strength since opening its first restaurant in Gainesville in 2009. With 12 locations across the Sunshine State, Piesanos is mostly known for its stone-fired pizza, however, it does serve other Italian specialties, such as Baked Ziti. Made with marinara sauce, as well as ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella, the dish can be eaten restaurant style or as a cold Take N Bake entrée that can be baked in the comfort of your kitchen.

The Baked Ziti at Piesanos has earned glowing reviews from diners for its taste and generous portions. One Tripadvisor reviewer says, "I had the baked ziti and [my] wife had the lasagna lunch special, both quantities were very plentiful and close to homemade." Another Tripadvisor diner agrees, commenting, "I had pizza, the wife had baked ziti. [...] Everyone enjoyed their meal."

2. Maggiano's Little Italy

Listed on the menu under Classics, alongside Mom's Lasagna and Four-Cheese Ravioli, the Taylor Street Baked Ziti at Maggiano's is made with Italian sausage, tomato ragù, and mozzarella cheese. The unusual name of the dish likely draws inspiration from the rich Italian culinary traditions found on Taylor Street in Chicago, a well-known hub for Italian American cuisine. Interestingly, while Maggiano's opened its first location in Chicago in 1991, it was on the corner of Clark Street and Grand Avenue, rather than Taylor Street.

Maggiano's baked ziti is a firm favorite with diners, with many praising the dish for its balance of flavors. One happy Yelp reviewer, who devoured the dish, comments, "The sauce, pasta, cheese and sausage ratio was perfect and everything complimented each other." Another Yelp diner gives the baked ziti five out of five, adding, "Cheesy, warm goodness — [it's] primarily getting a five for consistency every time I come here." Several other reviewers have described the dish as their favorite, yum, and delicious. Perhaps the only complaint comes from a diner who says that while the dish was tasty, it was a little too salty.

1. Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano

According to Biaggi's team, everything tastes better with pancetta — aka Italian bacon. And who are we to argue otherwise? Perhaps this is why, unlike most other zitis, Biaggi's Baked Ziti Al Forno comes with — you guessed it — pancetta. In addition to the crispy pork, Biaggi's not-so-classic version of this hearty dish is made with chicken, shrimp, caramelized onions, lobster cream sauce, and an Italian cheese blend.

Biaggi's Ziti Al Forno has received the thumbs up from online reviewers, who commend its combination of flavors. One satisfied Yelp diner says, "The penne was cooked perfectly, not too soft and not too hard, just the right amount of chew. The pancetta topped off every bite that makes your taste buds tear up in joy. The lobster sauce was rich and when used as bread dip was amazing. Just writing this now makes my mouth water." Another reviewer on Facebook echoes this sentiment, saying, "There are so many good things on the menu but this is my absolute favorite and my go-to when I haven't been there in a while." We are sold!


To create a list of the best and worst baked zitis at chain restaurants, we conducted a thorough analysis of customer reviews. We gathered feedback from popular platforms including Yelp, Facebook, and Tripadvisor. The analysis involved an extensive review of customer opinions and ratings.