The Olive Garden Spaghetti Pie You Probably Forgot About

Olive Garden is known for making Italian food accessible to the masses. While some of the dishes are more Americanized than authentic, people flock there to settle pasta cravings and calls for endless breadstick bowls. According to employees who spoke to Insider, some of the fan-favorites include the lasagna fritta appetizer, the chicken and shrimp carbonara, and the Tour of Italy platter.

These dishes are great on their own, but Olive Garden has still continued to innovate and create some wild new dishes over the past few years, like the oven-baked pasta highlighted by Brand Eating in 2018 (in two varieties: Lobster Shrimp Mac and Cheese and Asiago Tortelloni Alfredo with Grilled Chicken) and the lighter fare menu, introduced in 2012, as noted by Nation's Restaurant News.

And while some say you should skip certain items on the menu, Olive Garden had its own ideas about what should stay and what should go.

How Olive Garden innovates

Back in 2014, Olive Garden took on one of the biggest menu shakeups in the history of the restaurant, as Crave Local described. The chain introduced its new lunch menu to the masses, including Tuscan Trio Combinations which took the beloved classic soup, salad, and breadstick combo to a whole new level. The Tuscan Trio offered an additional pasta side, small plates (like the parmesan olive fritta or polenta shrimp alla Greca), or salad topping to the meal. Guests could also now enjoy sandwich and flatbread combos, choose your pasta options, and lighter fare like center cut filet mignon and chicken Abruzzi. All told, the new menu included 20 new items in an attempt to make the Olive Garden dining experience feel even more customizable.

According to FSR Magazine, "consumer preferences" are what drive Olive Garden menu changes, and they clearly know what they're doing in that department. The chain's tactics include scaling down promotions to increase demand for those already running and "everyday value messaging over a fleeting one," including offers like lunch and dinner duos and Cucina Mia. And while not all of these innovations are Italian-born, they certainly resonate with customers.

The Olive Garden dish you forgot you loved

At one point, Olive Garden's American side screamed just a little louder. While Olive Garden really expanded its menu options in 2014, just two years later the restaurant brought on a new and unexpected baked pasta creation. According to Eat This, Not That, Olive Garden used to serve a chicken alfredo spaghetti pie in 2016 that had heads turning. As they note, "This decadent dish was made up of spaghetti, seven cheeses, and bacon topped with grilled chicken and Alfredo sauce."

Today covered the release at the time, which was accompanied by two other spaghetti pies: a meatball deep-dish spaghetti pie (with "a base of spaghetti, seven cheeses, and bacon topped with meatballs and meat sauce"), and a spaghetti rosso with chicken and bacon (a "tomato-infused spaghetti pie with grilled chicken, bacon, red peppers, tomatoes, and asparagus tossed in a Parmesan pesto sauce").

At the time of the release, executive chef Jim Nuetzi told BuzzFeed News that although it sounds really American, Olive Garden's spaghetti pies were a take on a traditional Italian dish that was essentially a blend of leftover meals combined together, filled in a flaky crust, and baked. The Street guessed that the restaurant chain likely used the same crust for these pies as it did for its pot pies, and said that the hearty and shareable menu items were truly worth the $12.99 price.

The popularity of Olive Garden's spaghetti pie

The chicken alfredo spaghetti pie was a short-lived fan favorite at Olive Garden, garnering praise like that from All Free Copycat Recipes, who mentions that the pancetta and Italian cheese-filled pie topped with grilled chicken and alfredo sauce "was only available at Olive Garden for a limited time, but it was amazing while it was there." Popsugar also commented on the pie while it was in restaurants and noted it will "delight and confuse you," explaining that "they remind me of the Italian tradition of using leftover spaghetti in an omelet or frittata" and had the "cheesy, carby, hearty goodness" that come from quality comfort food.

And while many have likely forgotten about it, a quick Google search will show just how popular Olive Garden's spaghetti pies were, with many copycats living online, including this one by Mastercook. So if you were upset about missing it or not being able to try it again, look up one of these incredible copycat recipes and pay homage to one of your formerly favorite dishes.