Olive Garden's Menu Used To Boast An Extensive Pizza List

If you're craving traditional Italian food, Olive Garden may not be the best place to go, but if you're in the mood for Americanized pasta dishes or unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks, you can't go wrong. As for pizza, however, the only way to get it is if you order from the kids' menu because it's not an Olive Garden specialty — at least not anymore.

Considering Olive Garden opened for business in 1982, it's no surprise that the menu has evolved with customers' tastes. Through the years, the restaurant has introduced plenty of menu items that never ended up being brought back. The stuffed mushrooms, for example, were pulled from the menu after a very public lawsuit. Other items like the spaghetti pie and breadstick sandwiches disappeared a bit more quietly, presumably due to either declining popularity or a preplanned limited-time run. The same could easily be said for the pizza. Though it wasn't for lack of trying, Olive Garden's pizza didn't stand the test of time.

What happened to Olive Garden's pizza?

According to vintage Olive Garden menus obtained by Daily Meal, the Italian restaurant chain did not sell pizza when it first opened in 1982. That came later, after about 10 years of being in business. Throughout the 1990s, Olive Garden sold pizza in combinations including Meaty Italian, Chicken Alfredo, Spicy Sausage & Peppers, and Roma Garden. There was also a custom pizza option, allowing customers to pick their own toppings to add to a three-cheese pizza base. Given that the crust was designed to taste like the famous breadsticks, the pizza was also served with alfredo and marinara dipping sauces.

Judging by various Yelp reviews, Olive Garden's pizza had a good run well into the 2000s. However, around 2007, Olive Garden introduced a Margherita pizza, and the recipe seemed to have changed from the original — and not necessarily in a good way. "My margherita was on a thick pizza crust and there was no sauce," one Yelp reviewer complained. More and more customers reported being unimpressed until it was eventually phased out.

Olive Garden has tried to bring back pizza before

In 2015, Olive Garden reintroduced pizza to its menu but with some noticeable changes. Instead of a traditional pizza crust, the new version used flatbread. Later that year, the chain went on to introduce "breadstick pizza," made with garlic bread topped with marinara, smoked mozzarella, and pepperoni.

In 2018, Olive Garden strayed even further from traditional pizza, revamping its previous versions in favor of "pizza bowls" consisting of pizza dough shaped like a bowl and filled with sauce, meatballs, and cheese. The following year, the chain tried again with "pizza fritta," which actually resembled more of a calzone, being that it was chicken and cheese wrapped in pizza dough and deep fried. It's hard to say for sure whether Olive Garden will come up with another "pizza" to add to its menu, but it's safe to say it will probably be anything but traditional.