Watchdog Group Unveils Best– and Worst– Italian Restaurant Dishes

italian food

Did you know that the calories resting in Italian food might be as bad for you as those sitting in fast food? The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a watchdog group that looks at food ingredients and how they affect health, says some of your favorite Italian restaurants are setting you up for love handles and obesity later on.

The group even released some of the best– and worst– menu options from popular Italian restaurant chains in its Nutrition Action Healthletter, seen below.

Unhealthy Choices:

Carrabba’s Calamari

This tasty appetizer is 75 percent bread– with just 25 percent squid. Order the stuff with Spicy Italian Pepper and Lemon Butter Sauce and the calorie count shoots past 1,500. It also packs in roughly three days’ worth of saturated fat.

Maggiano’s Mom’s Lasagna With Meat Sauce

This entrée carries two days’ worth of sodium, not to mention 1,170 calories and a whopping 34 gram of saturated fat.

Macaroni Grill’s Mama’s Trio

This three-tiered mega entrée offers Chicken Parmesan, Lasagna Bolognese, and Chicken & Mushroom Cannelloni, but the fun part is finding out the nutritional information– almost 1,500 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat, and approximately 3,500 milligrams of sodium.

Olive Garden’s Chicken Alfredo

CSPI admits this pile of pasta covered in Alfredo sauce and chicken carries almost four cups of refined white flour– which acts like sugar shocking your system. You might as well eat two 14-ounce New York Strip steaks at Outback Steakhouse, because that would carry the same 1,440 calories hidden in this weighty entrée.

Maggiano’s Chicken Saltimbocca

Chicken breasts might sound healthy enough– but this dish comes stuffed with almost 1,700 calories.

Carrabba’s Sogno di Cioccolata

A fudge brownie topped with chocolate mousse, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce, this dessert has nearly 1,200 calories, 35 grams of saturated fat, and 22 teaspoons of added sugar—or the equivalent of a whole box of Girl Scout Thin Mints, CSPI says.

Healthier Choices:

Olive Garden’s Herb-Grilled Salmon

Carrying only 520 calories and a 500 milligrams of sodium, this is less than one-third of the calories of some of the heaviest Italian dishes.

Macaroni Grill’s Grilled Chicken Spiedini

Holding only 410 calories and 990 milligrams of sodium, this entree is one of the healthier meals you’ll find at an Italian restaurant.

Carrabba’s Wood-Grilled Salmon

Go with the six-ounce option, and you’ll consume only 500 calories and six grams of saturated fat.


Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Umesh Bansal

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.