Photo: Olive Garden
The newest menu option at Olive Garden is called the Meatball Pizza Bowl and takes decadence to new heights. Here’s how the chefs at Olive Garden create this ode to Italian generosity:
They start with a mound of pizza dough, which they flatten and then shape around a cup filled with Italian cheeses. This process turns the pizza dough into a dough bowl which can retain its shape while it bakes. Once the dough bowl is done baking, the cup o’ cheese is inverted so that the cheeses, now bubbling and molten, can be poured into the center, followed by a veritable mountain of meatballs and meat sauce. But the decadence doesn’t stop there. According to what an Olive Garden spokesperson told TODAY, the edges of the bowl are then brushed with oil and even more cheese (which is similar to how Olive Garden makes its breadsticks) and run back under a broiler to caramelize and crisp up.
The Meatball Pizza Bowl comes with unlimited soup or salad and “unlimited never-ending” (their words!) breadsticks. At $8.99, it is, as Olive Garden says, an example of “plentiful portions” served along with as much soup or salad and breadsticks you can eat. And here’s the amazing, honest-to-goodness truth: it’s not even close to the most decadent dish on the menu. At 860 calories, it’s going to make a significant dent in your daily caloric needs, but not much different from the dent you’d make if you chose any Olive Garden pasta and paired it with just about any sauce. In fact, it’s significantly LESS calorically dense than an order of Rigatoni with Asiago Alfredo sauce (the sauce alone comes in at 940 calories!).
If you have a craving for this Italian restaurant’s specialties but don’t want the mound of calories, try our 28 Olive Garden copycat recipes.