The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network reports that eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies. These foods are peanuts, eggs, milk, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Because some restaurants do not disclose the ingredients used to prepare each dish, dining out can pose a problem for people with these allergies. The Olive Garden restaurant offers gluten-free menu items and detailed nutrition information for each of its dishes, making it easier to avoid foods that trigger allergic reactions.
Items to Avoid
The Olive Garden offers several dishes made with fish and shellfish. If you have an allergy to these foods, avoid the shrimp primavera, seafood Portofino, parmesan-crusted tilapia, grilled shrimp Caprese, seafood Alfredo, shrimp and asparagus risotto, and herb-grilled salmon. Those with milk or egg allergies should avoid dishes made with cream-based sauces or cheese. These dishes include lasagna classico, eggplant parmigiana, chicken parmigiana, cheese ravioli, and fried mozzarella.
Those with gluten sensitivity have several options when dining at the Olive Garden. The garden fresh and Caesar salads are gluten-free if you order them without croutons. The five main dishes that do not contain gluten include pennine rigate with marinara, steak Toscano, all-chicken mixed grill, herb-grilled salmon and the chicken and steak mixed grill. The kids’ grilled chicken offers a gluten-free dish in a serving size suitable for a child.
Some Olive Garden menu items contain sulfites, chemicals typically used as preservative agents. Those with sulfite allergies should avoid wine and dishes made with lemon juice, lettuce, mushrooms, peppers, lime juice and pickles. These dishes include chianti-braised short ribs, chicken marsala, chicken and shrimp carbonara, stuffed chicken marsala, shrimp primavera and seafood Portofino.
Carrying a food allergy restaurant card (see Resources) can help you communicate your needs to servers, cooks and other restaurant staff members. The Food Allergy Initiative also recommends asking the host to seat you as far away from the kitchen as possible. This reduces the risk of exposure to airborne allergens released during food preparation. Because restaurant cooks use deep fryers to prepare several foods, avoid fried foods and order simple items with few ingredients.
While the Olive Garden does make some allergy information available to patrons, the restaurant does not guarantee the accuracy of the information. Do not rely solely on this information when ordering a meal. Always carry your emergency medications and let your dining companions know that you have a food allergy. This can help you avoid life-threatening reactions or receive faster treatment if a reaction does occur.