Olive Garden's new giant food menu that features a massive meatball and an 11-inch chicken parmigiana exceeded my expectations — and my appetite

Meredith Cash/INSIDERI went to my local Olive Garden and tried each of the dishes on the new ‘Giant Italian Classics’ menu.

Olive Garden may have introduced its new “Giant Italian Classics” menu on April Fools’ Day, but these super-sized dishes are nothing to joke about.

The new menu includes a nearly foot-long chicken parmesan dish, massive stuffed shells bursting with cheese, and a giant meatball that weighs a whopping 12 ounces. The Italian-American restaurant chain also offers unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks with any Giant Italian Classics order.

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Olive Garden has a new giant food menu that includes an 11-inch chicken parmigiana

I went to Olive Garden to try the Giant Italian Classics menu for myself

I headed to my local Olive Garden restaurant on a Sunday night with three of my family members. When we arrived, I put my name on the waiting list for a table. I knew that it would be fairly busy on a Sunday evening, but the restaurant was swamped with people and it took nearly 40 minutes before we were seated. I used the time to let my appetite build, which would prove useful later.

Olive Garden Giant Italian Classics menuMeredith Cash/INSIDEROlive Garden describes its new menu as ‘classic entrées in extra generous portions.’

Once we were seated, and out of fear that the crowded restaurant would run out of one or more of the Giant Italian Classics menu items, I quickly ordered one of each specialty dish. To our surprise, each dish came with a choice of bottomless soup or salad on top of the restaurant’s signature unlimited garlic breadsticks, so we decided against adding any more food to our order.

Our garden salad and breadsticks arrived, and I tried to caution everyone at the table from filling up before our main dishes arrived. No one listened.

Olive Garden breadsticks saladMeredith Cash/INSIDEROlive Garden’s unlimited salad and breadsticks.

When our main courses came, my eyes first went to the ‘Giant Meatball with Spaghetti’

It was absolutely colossal.

The Giant Meatball with Spaghetti dish came with a 12-ounce meatball plopped onto a bed of spaghetti with meat sauce. I knew that I should be expecting a pretty big helping of meat, but considering the meal was meant for a single person, I was surprised at just how large and prominent the meatball was.

Olive Garden Giant MeatballMeredith Cash/INSIDERI felt compelled to pose for a photo with the ‘Giant Meatball with Spaghetti.’

Nothing about the taste was particularly exceptional, in my opinion, but it held up well compared to other spaghetti and meatball dishes I’ve eaten in the past. The red sauce was a bit sweet for my taste, but the meatball was tender and full of flavour and the pasta was cooked well.

Next up was the ‘Giant Chicken Parmigiana’ dish

After eating the giant meatball, this one was a bit smaller than I expected. Don’t get me wrong – eleven inches of chicken Parmesan is a hefty helping, but the chicken cutlet looked rather thin to me and seemed to cover less than half the plate in width. The side helping of fettuccine alfredo didn’t seem overwhelmingly large either, but the combination of chicken and pasta certainly made for a filling meal.

Giant Chicken ParmigianaMeredith Cash/INSIDEROlive Garden’s 11-inch chicken Parmesan dish.

In my opinion, the Giant Chicken Parmigiana tasted more like an oversized chicken finger. That isn’t to say it wasn’t delicious, but it was breaded and crispy in a way that was reminiscent of the restaurant chicken fingers I would eat as a kid. The fettuccine was solid, but I found it a little less flavorful than what you might find at your neighbourhood Italian eatery.

Suprisingly, the jumbo shells were the highlight of the meal

I wasn’t expecting this, but the two “Giant Stuffed Shells” dishes – specifically the “Giant Stuffed Shells with Shrimp” – stood out to me as the best part of this belt-loosening meal.

Olive Garden Giant Stuffed ShellsMeredith Cash/INSIDEROlive Garden’s new ‘Giant Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells.’

According to the Giant Italian Classics menu, the “Giant Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells” comes with five pasta shells stuffed with four varieties of cheeses and topped with marinara, alfredo sauce, and toasted breadcrumbs. Although my serving did not come with breadcrumbs, the cheesy deliciousness of this pasta dish did not disappoint.

The real star of the show was the Giant Stuffed Shells with Shrimp, which came with the same five shells filled with cheese but was topped with shrimp, alfredo sauce, and diced tomatoes. Each bite was creamy and full of flavour, and the shrimp were juicy and seasoned well. I was sceptical about eating seafood from a chain restaurant, but Olive Garden exceeded my expectations.

Giant Shells Olive GardenMeredith Cash/INSIDERThe ‘Giant Stuffed Shells with Shrimp’ was my favourite of the four ‘Giant Italian Classics’ meals.

Overall, I was incredibly impressed with my experience at Olive Garden

My family was, too. Our waiter was extremely kind and attentive. Our food was tasty, plentiful, and arrived in a timely manner. We ate as much as we wanted, and still had significant leftovers from each dish. On top of all that, the complimentary mint chocolates that came with the check were good enough to justify a second visit.

For $US67.86 total or just less than $US17 per meal before tax and tip, customers get plenty of bang for their buck with Olive Garden’s Giant Italian Classics menu items. I still haven’t exhausted my leftovers despite eating Olive Garden pasta almost exclusively for the past two days, so I mean it when I say that this is a bargain.

If you’d like to try it yourself, the Giant Italian Classics menu is available for a limited time until May 27.

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