Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Pass


Suzie Yu

My meal during my second visit to Olive Garden consisted of breadsticks, a Famous House salad, and Minestrone soup, all which are included in the Pasta Pass deal.

What could be better than unlimited pasta for two months? In mid-August 2o19, Olive Garden, a well-known Italian-American chain restaurant, brought back its annual Never Ending Pasta Pass for 24,000 lucky pasta lovers. 

The Pasta Pass, first introduced six years ago, allows people to enjoy as many servings of pasta, soup, salad, and breadsticks as they would like within a span of nine weeks. In 2018, the passes were sold out one second after the sale went live; this year, all 24,000 passes were gone in less than that. For those who were able to claim a pass, pass-holders would have to go to Olive Garden at least nine times to get their money’s worth of food. 

Furthermore, for die-hard pasta fans, Olive Garden also introduced fifty Lifetime Pasta Passes, which sold out in milliseconds. Other than the fact that one is guaranteed meals from Olive Garden for the rest of their life, the nine-week Pasta Pass and the Lifetime Pasta Pass are exactly the same. Compared to the nine-week Pasta Pass which costs $100, the lifetime pass costs $500, not including tax. So, is the nine week Pasta Pass worth the hype? 

On the day of the release, Olive Garden’s website included a live timer indicating when the passes were on sale. Within three weeks, the pass was received in the mail in a minimalist box. The card itself had my name printed on the bottom left hand corner and “Never Ending Pasta Pass” engraved across it in large letters. Two weeks later, the card was ready to be used. Upon arriving at the Olive Garden in Queens, my friends and I were seated almost immediately and given a menu. 

Suzie Yu
A refreshing glass of peach raspberry iced tea sits alongside the Olive Garden menu.

From the menu, you can select from a variety of pastas including Spaghetti, Angel Hair, Fettuccine, Whole Grain Linguine, Cavatappi, Rigatoni, and gluten-free Rotini. Of the sauces they had availableCreamy Roasted Garlic, Alfredo, traditional Marinara, Meat Sauce, Creamy Mushroom, and Five Cheese Marinara I selected meat sauce with spaghetti. 

The toppings included a variety of options from grilled chicken to Italian sausage to garden veggies. With the pasta pass, I was able to get one topping free of charge; otherwise, I would have paid $4.29 for two meatballs. Along with that, I also ordered breadsticks with Chicken and Gnocchi soup, which according to the Olive Garden website is “a creamy soup made with roasted chicken, traditional Italian dumplings and spinach.” The Classic Shrimp Scampi Fritta, which was not included as in the Pasta Pass deal, also caught our eye.

While eating, I noticed that the breadsticks were unlike any other breadsticks I have had. As someone who is not a big fan of bread and other carbs, I found the breadsticks to be one of the best parts of the meal. They had a soft, fluffy interior and a buttery, crispy exterior. Though nice additions to my meal, the Chicken and Gnocchi soup and salad were not anything special. In fact, the Chicken and Gnocchi soup was somewhat bland—additional seasoning would have made it richer in flavor

Suzie Yu
The air fills with the aroma of the Never Ending Pasta and Chicken and Gnocchi soup.

Although the Pasta Pass did not cover the Classic Shrimp Scampi Fritta, this dish is worth mentioning. Though it appeared to be your typical fried shrimp with some lemon slices thrown in, the dish is surprisingly flavorful even without the lemon. The breading was crisp and had a hint of garlic butter which was a nice complement with the shrimp.

“Spaghetti is a timeless, delicious dish, and this one was no exception. The pasta and meatballs were well cooked, and the sauce was great as well. When mixed, it formed a great dish,” said Christine Li ’20.

The Never Ending Pasta, in short, is like your average bowl of pasta. For only $10.99, you can satisfy your hunger for pasta with the decent sized bowl. The meat sauce mixed well with the spaghetti and meatballs that accompanied were tasty as well. One of my friends who also got a bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce, Christine Li ’20 said, “Spaghetti is a timeless, delicious dish, and this one was no exception. The pasta and meatballs were well cooked, and the sauce was great as well. When mixed, it formed a great dish.” With the variety of choices to choose from, you’ll be able to try different combinations during each visit while the Pasta Pass is still valid.

Suzie Yu
A warm bowl of The Never Ending Pasta with meat sauce and meatballs.

When it was time to pay, I handed the server the Pasta Pass and was surprised to find out that it was the first time she had seen one since she started working there. This shows that despite the many passes that were being sold all throughout the country, they were still uncommon. 

Overall, my experience at Olive Garden with the Pasta Pass was pleasant, and I am looking forward to going back. With the high demands of the passes every year, Olive Garden’s Pasta Pass is surely a successful marketing tactic. If you are interested in purchasing a Pasta Pass, be sure to keep an eye open around mid-August once the next deal comes around.