12 Gut-Busting Restaurant Pasta Dishes You Should Never Order

Who doesn’t love a big bowl of pasta every now and again? There’s a reason it’s called comfort food, after all. And even when you’re out to eat and tell yourself you shouldn’t order something you can typically make on your own, the pasta choices are all too tempting.

But we’re also here to let you in on a little secret. Some of those pasta dishes are worse than others. So, trust us when we say you’ll want to stay far away from these 12 gut-busting orders.

1. Tour of Italy, Olive Garden

The Olive Garden Sign on the rock exterior of the building

An Olive Garden sign at the iconic restaurant. | iStock.com/ljhimages

We think it’s fair to say Olive Garden is the McDonald’s of Italian American restaurants — the chain has a menu that’ll leave you wishing you’d worn sweatpants rather than jeans. Coming in at 1,520 calories and 3,250 milligrams of sodium, the Tour of Italy serves up a super combo of chicken Parmesan, lasagna, and fettuccini Alfredo all on one plate. Steer clear of this one.

2. Fettuccine Weesie, Carrabba’s

pasta with sautéed shrimp

Shrimp pasta isn’t always healthy. | Pixabay

Carrabba’s Italian Grill is yet another chain serving up heaps of Italian-American fare. The Fettuccine Weesie serves up sautéed shrimp, scallions, basil, garlic, and mushroom in a white wine-lemon butter sauce. With 1,460 calories, it hardly sounds like a dish wrought with nutritional value.

3. Pasta Carbonara, Cheesecake Factory

Fettucine carbonara in a white bowl

Pasta carbonara can be a real diet disaster. | iStock.com/robynmac

With a menu that feels like it’s 100 pages long, The Cheesecake Factory has no shortage of less-than-healthy options. At a whopping 2,290 calories and 1,630 milligrams of sodium, the Pasta Carbonara is a dish you should avoid at all cost. One order of it — which includes smoked bacon and chicken in a garlic-Parmesan cream sauce — and there’s no question you’ll be too stuffed for dessert.

4. Gnocchi & Italian Sausage, Maggiano’s

Gnocchi pasta

Gnocchi might be cute, but they can quickly turn unhealthy. | iStock.com

Weighing in at 1,560 calories and 5,200 milligrams of sodium, the Gnocchi & Italian Sausage is one of Maggiano’s specialty pastas. It features the namesake ingredients plus a delicious basil and tomato vodka cream sauce. Full of taste? Probably. Worth the calories? Probably not.

5. Pesto Cream Penne, California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen is known for serving generous portions. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Los Angeles Magazine

CPK may be your go-to during long layovers at the airport, but the next time you find yourself at one, make sure you steer clear of the Pesto Cream Penne with Chicken & Shrimp. As if adding both poultry and seafood weren’t enough, you’ll be packing on a grand total of 1,370 calories and 89 grams of fat once this meal is done. Good luck running to catch your flight after that.

6. Mama’s Trio, Romano’s Macaroni Grill

lasagna made with minced beef

Lasagna is just one part of this feast. | iStock.com

This place is no joke when it comes to its gut-busting status. In particular, we’re talking about the Mama’s Trio. For this dish, three serious classics come together to make up a total of 2,110 calories, 129 grams of fat, and even 19 grams of sugar. And the pastas featured in this colossal dish? Chicken Parmesan, lasagna Bolognese, and fettuccine Alfredo.

7. Pad Thai, Noodles & Company

pad thai

Pad Thai is a lot less diet-friendly than you think. | iStock.com

Some menu items at Noodles & Company are simply worse than others, and one that falls short on the nutritional value side of things is the Pad Thai. Though it sounds like it would be one of the healthier options, don’t be deceived. This stir-fry noodle dish comes in at 1,330 calories, not to mention the 30 grams of sugar and 75 grams of fat.

8. Cajun Chicken Pasta, Chili’s

bowl of chicken pasta

Chicken pasta isn’t too healthy when coupled with Alfredo sauce. | iStock.com

Even pasta-lovers should stick to the classic Tex-Mex fare at Chili’s. If not, you could end up downing 1,270 calories and 60 grams of fat if you choose the Cajun Chicken Pasta. It’s actually not all that surprising when you read it’s “smothered in Alfredo sauce with a hint of Cajun spice, topped with grated Parmesan.” It’s served with garlic toast, to boot.

9. 4-Cheese Mac & Cheese with Honey Pepper Chicken Tenders, Applebee’s

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese, pasta, noodles

Mac and cheese isn’t the best option. | iStock.com

Mac and cheese on its own seems a little kiddish. But turn the tenders into the honey pepper variety, and this loaded mac just grew up. But at 1,460 calories, 64 grams of fat, and 155 grams of carbs, this dish really skimps on the nutritional value. The tenders are served atop a mound of cheesy noodles, and sprinkled with applewood smoked bacon — just for good measure.

10. Spaghetti with Mizithra Cheese and Brown Butter, The Old Spaghetti Factory


Spaghetti with cheese and butter should be a very occasional treat. | iStock.com

As you’d probably guess, spaghetti drenched in cheese and brown butter certainly isn’t the healthiest option. Tasty as the dish may be, it boasts 1,190 calories, 69 grams of fat, and 210 grams of cholesterol, so choose (something else) wisely.

11. Spaghetti with Meatballs, Bertucci’s

Spaghetti pasta with meatballs

Spaghetti with meatballs can be disastrous if you aren’t careful. | iStock.com/Anna_Shepulova

Just because it’s a classic doesn’t mean you should go crazy, because Bertucci’s Spaghetti with Meatballs rings in at 1,340 calories, 360 grams of fat, and 175 grams of carbs. Along with the restaurant’s famous bread policy — it serves enough soft rolls to make an entire meal — a dinner like this will have you feeling beyond stuffed at the end of dinner.

12. Mac & Cheese, Panera Bread

mac and cheese on a plate with fork

Mac and cheese might be delicious, but save this one for a special occasion. | iStock.com

You might go to Panera Bread for a half-sandwich-and-side-salad combo, but sometimes you really just need the macaroni and cheese. Unfortunately, Panera’s version delivers more than just great flavor — 950 calories and 2,450 milligrams of sodium, to be exact. It’s safe to say you should stick to the soup and salad menu.