12 Popular Italian Restaurant Chains In America, Ranked

Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. The United States of America has some of the best Italian food you'll find worldwide, but the country is also full of chain restaurant imitators. We all know that, say, Olive Garden isn't truly authentic, but it'd be a mistake to tar all Italian chains with the same brush. Distinctions between good and bad food exist within this range, and they are meaningful. How do we know this? Because we've looked at the dozen most popular Italian restaurant chains in the U.S. and determined which ones are worth eating at and which ones you should avoid.

For this ranking, we focused on Italian chains that place an emphasis on pasta and other traditional Italian dishes. America is so riddled with pizza and Italian sandwich chains that those could each constitute their own list; for these reasons, we are excluding them. We determined the ranking based on diner reviews and feedback posted online, as well as the personal experience of The Daily Meal's writing team. These are the most popular Italian chain restaurants in America, ranked from worst to best. 

12. Fazoli's

Fazoli's is the only chain on this list with a drive-through, making it fast food by definition. If that's not damning evidence that this belongs at the bottom of the list, nothing is. Fazoli's has just over 200 locations nationwide, but in this case, quantity doesn't make up for quality.

Speaking of quantity, Fazoli's offers unlimited breadsticks for anyone dining in. This is wonderful news, considering these are the best items on the menu. A review of a Fazoli's location in Kansas, written by the blog Witchita by EB, wrote, "Each [breadstick] was flimsy, salty,[and] doughy yet delicious." The reviewer was way less hot on the pasta and pizza, both of which they found dry and bland.

YouTubers Jessi Pasini and her Italian husband Alessio are known for trying American Italian chains and giving a true Italian's opinion. When trying Fazoli's, Alessio mentioned that the breadsticks were decent but not a side you'd find served in Italy. He also noted the obviously overcooked pasta. Even the American-born Jessi said, "[The pizza is] a few steps down from Domino's [and] Pizza Hut." Yikes!

Most pasta dishes at Fazoli's won't cost you more than $15, and most apps are around the $5 range. While this is very affordable for Italian food, it is also a red flag warning you that nothing at Fazoli's was made by anyone's nonna. 

11. Olive Garden

As the chain boasts nearly 900 restaurants worldwide (over 100 of those locations in Texas alone), you will inevitably find Olive Garden defenders all across the country. Do not believe their lies. We can't deny that the chain's recurring promos — like its unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks or its never-ending pasta pass — are great deals; just don't expect to be eating like a king ... or even like a prince.

The Olive Garden menu specializes in American dishes like chicken parmesan and spaghetti and meatballs. Prices vary depending on location, but on average, you are spending $15 to $20 for a pasta dish. That's pretty pricey, and hard to defend in areas with many Italian options. The Times Square Olive Garden, for example, isn't that much cheaper than local Italian joints in Brooklyn. In cases like this, Olive Garden is almost never worth the money. Two young Italian natives summed it up when they tried Olive Garden's pasta for BuzzFeedVideo. While it wasn't as disgusting as they were anticipating, they were unimpressed. One called the chain's Fettuccine Alfredo "like the pasta you get when you are sick and have to stay at the hospital."

10. The Spaghetti Warehouse

If you go to a restaurant called The Spaghetti Warehouse, you probably don't expect to get a fine dining-level meal out of it. Indeed, this Ohio-based chain offers middling pasta for the reasonable price of (on average) $12 to $15 per entrée. The Spaghetti Warehouse has four locations in the Buckeye State, but also one in Texas and one in New York. In addition to dine-in, The Spaghetti Warehouse offers catering for parties and banquets. Each entrée at the chain comes with a free soup or salad side, which is an agreeable courtesy. While lasagna, spaghetti, and alfredo sauce all make their appearances as expected, the specialty entrees side of the menu at least attempts more authentic dishes, like frutti di mare.

According to diners on the Dayton, Ohio subreddit, the meals at The Spaghetti Warehouse range from fine to "You're better off just cooking spaghetti at home." Not the most encouraging feedback. Even worse, right next door to that location, you can find delicious homemade pasta at the slightly more upscale Grist. The recently renovated Columbus location doesn't seem to be faring much better. Reviewers from Axios tried the restaurant and thought the 15-layer lasagna was tasty enough, although not as layered as advertised, and the chicken parmigiana over fettuccine alfredo was merely passable. "The modern Spaghetti Warehouse is still a solid enough Italian restaurant," they noted, but they didn't exactly rave about the food or the vibes.

9. The Old Spaghetti Factory

The Old Spaghetti Factory has been around since 1969, which means it more than lives up to its name. The schtick here is the kitschy décor and the fact that every entrée is served as a three-course meal. That's right: You get a soup or salad, bread, and a bowl of the chain's spumoni ice cream with every meal, which makes it of pretty great value. Also known for its mizithra cheese blend, this chain throws a little bit of Greek flair into its Italian-American cuisine. The signature spaghetti with mizithra cheese and browned butter is far from authentic, but at least it has an inspired twist.

There are 42 Old Spaghetti Factory locations nationwide, but most of them are on the west coast. Diner feedback from a couple of these locations has been mixed in recent years. One Reddit user sang the praises of the chain's chicken piccata at the Eugene, OR, location, saying, "It's not the best food I've ever eaten but it's always consistently the same and points are given for that." In another thread, some diners at a Sacramento, CA location said that the quality of food had become noticeably worse than it used to be. Others asserted it simply wasn't very good to begin with. It seems likely your experience of The Old Spaghetti Factory will vary depending on location, but that's a risky bet as far as we're concerned.

8. Buca di Beppo

At one point in the fairly surprising history of Buca di Beppo, it was a single family-style restaurant in Minnesota. Times have definitely changed: Currently, there are around 70 locations in the US. From our experience, the larger your party, the better your experience will be at Buca di Beppo. In general, bigger is better here; the chain is known for its family style options and massive, half-pound meatballs. However, the huge portions and walls littered with tons of vintage photos don't make the food taste any less bland.

We have to tip our hat to Buca for keeping the menu simple, though. It serves classic Italian-American dishes that don't resort to throwing three proteins into a pasta in an attempt to reinvent the wheel. Instead, you'll find food that definitely isn't authentically Italian, but is serviceable for an American looking to carbo-load. The pasta and sauce can be quite flavorless, but in our experience, the meatballs are juicy and delicious. We've also found success with cheesier dishes like the baked rigatoni and baked ziti, which are both loaded with creamy ricotta. Anything fried, like the calamari appetizer, also hits the spot. We would recommend avoiding the pizza, however, which has gotten some disappointing reviews.

7. Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano

Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano is a midwestern chain with 16 locations between the cities of Denver and Detroit. This is a place you can bring a date to and pass it off as an upscale Italian eatery. The menu features an extensive wine list and gluten-free options, and each month, there are new rotating chef's specials. A meal will run you between $14 and $25 per person; as you might expect, you'll pay more for dishes like steak and scallop risotto. That's if you don't order an appetizer, though, like the chain's signature mix and match bruschetta, which includes unique takes on the traditional antipasto like fig and apple and seafood scampi. 

Overall, you are paying more for a quality dining experience than quality food. As one Iowan Reddit user put it in a breakdown of all the Italian restaurants in their area, "It's probably one of the better choices in the Quad Cities, and certainly FAR better than freaking Olive Garden." This praise came despite a note that the pasta had been overcooked every time they ate at the chain. Many diners agree, but Biaggi's is hardly alone in this: As we found in our research, overcooked pasta is a point of criticism for most Italian chains. 

6. Brio Italian Grille

There are 33 Brio Italian Grille locations across the country, stretching from California to Florida. The cuisine at Brio is supposedly Tuscan, but for the most part, it serves Americanized dishes like sausage carbonara campanelle (topped with a sunny-side egg) and gorgonzola-crusted beef medallions. You'll find a similar selection of appetizers, pizzas, salads, and pastas at many other Italian chains, albeit at a slightly lower price: A dinner entrée at Brio will typically run you between $20 and $30. The chain has a rewards program app that gives loyal diners new deals and exclusive offers each week to help alleviate that price point, though.

Overall, Brio is a solid choice if your only choices are chain restaurants. YouTuber Timmy's Takeout spent over $150 sampling dishes from the chain and had mixed feelings. He loved the spinach and artichoke dip, but when it came to the flatbread pizzas, he found the crisp, cracker-like crust unappealing. The Salt Lake City location is beloved by its community, though. One Reddit user recommending it as a budget choice said, "My husband and I love going to high end Italian restaurants and Brio is still a nice time every time."

5. Johnny Carino's

While there used to be 173 Johnny Carino's locations in the chain's peak year of 2006, there are now roughly 30 in various states. Most are in California and Texas, but the chain extends as far east as Tennessee. At Carino's, you'll find modest prices between $15 and $25 per entrée, depending on location. While there's no rewards app, Johnny Carino's does have an email and text club that rewards you with a free pepperoni pizza upon sign-up.

In terms of authenticity, this chain misses the mark pretty hard. Some of Johnny Carino's signature dishes include the sizzling skilletini cacciatore (pasta served fajita style in a skillet with peppers and onions), Italian nachos, and green chile jalapeño alfredo. As you can tell, there's a clear southwestern influence on its menu, but we wouldn't go as far as to call these dishes Mexican fusion. Really, they're as American as apple pie, especially in states like Texas. While this might put some people off, diner reviews are pretty positive. At the Pigeon Forge, TN location, YouTube reviewer Yankee in the South felt he got his money's worth at about $20 per person. We're inclined to agree; the wedge salad his wife ordered does indeed look very good.

4. Carrabba's Italian Grill

With over 100 restaurants across 29 states, Carrabba's Italian Grill is Olive Garden's biggest competition. Visiting Carrabba's for dinner, you'll find entrees going for $20 to $30 on average. In addition to restaurant dining, Carrabba's Italian Grill offers catering, as well as a budget-friendly "family bundle" for four to five diners which includes a pasta of choice as well as bread and salad for pickup or delivery.

According to a significant number of diners, the quality of Carrabba's food easily surpasses that of its competitors. When asked which they recommended on Reddit, a majority of the users who responded said they preferred Carrabba's. In terms of authenticity, it's at about the same level as its rival chain, though. In fact, Carrabba's sells the sort of salad, pasta, chicken, and seafood dishes you can find at most of these mid-range Italian American chains. We are seriously drowning in identical menus at this point.

Carrabba's does have some interesting staples, but they've received mixed reviews. Delish reviewer and current video director Julia Smith tried over 30 of the chain's dishes and raved about the signature Mama Mandola's Sicilian chicken soup, saying, "It definitely tastes like someone's grandma's soup recipe." Irish TikToker Lesbcooking wasn't quite as fond of it; as she put it, "It was absolutely hideous." She was equally put off by the sad vegetable sides, but at least enjoyed the bread and chicken parmesan.

3. Romano's Macaroni Grill

Once upon a time, Romano's Macaroni Grill was one of Olive Garden's biggest competitors. There are now only 31 locations in America; for reference, there were once over 200. Based on recent customer feedback, though, the chain's food appears to be better than ever. As you might expect, the mac and cheese is the signature dish at this chain. Even though the basic mac is only on the kids menu (an elevated truffle mac graces the main menu), fans have been commiserating online for years to try and figure out how to recreate it at home for their kids.

One of our colleagues at The Daily Meal calls the penne rustica one of the best pasta dishes they've had from a chain restaurant. The sauce is always creamy and herbaceous, with a little heat from cayenne pepper, and the dish's chicken and shrimp are consistently juicy and perfectly seasoned. Riding that chicken train, Delish YouTuber Julia Smith sampled over 20 dishes at the restaurant and highly praised the crisp texture of the chicken parmesan and the flavor of the chicken scaloppine. She went so far as to take a bite of the latter and claim, "That is phenomenal."

2. Maggiano's Little Italy

Climbing the list is Maggiano's Little Italy, a chain owned by Chili's parent company Brinker International. With over 50 locations in the US, this chain is a classier sit-down joint that offers banquet experiences and hosts private events. The best part is, the food lives up to the décor. You're paying good money for both: Entrees at Maggiano's will run you upwards of $20 and up to $35, depending on the location. 

But reviewers say it's worth the cost. The menu features refined Italian American fare that never gets too outlandish. The chain's famous rigatoni "D" features chicken, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and marsala cream sauce. Delish's Julia Smith loved the sauce; "This to me is just a beautiful marriage of flavors," she noted, going so far as to say she wanted to eat it at her wedding. That wasn't all she loved, either. After trying the fettuccine alfredo, she remarked, "I was speechless; just trust me, that's phenomenal."

Even the infamously critical Italian American content creator itsQCP didn't hate Maggiano's. After trying the bread, spaghetti with meatballs, and cheesecake, he said, "Maggiano's, you kind of impressed me." Across the board, Maggiano's Little Italy seems to get closer to its namesake country's cuisine than almost any other chain — except one.

1. Bertucci's

There is a palpable passion for Bertucci's among the public. For one thing, it ranks as one of America's favorite pizza chains. But this praise goes way beyond the pie. Back in 2017, YouTube food blogger Elena Ciccotelli did a direct comparison between Maggiano's and Bertucci's by ordering the same meal of chicken Caesar salad, margherita flatbread, and chicken parmesan at both places. The results were simple: "Bertucci's kicked Maggiano's a**." 

Such praise continues to this day. It's no mistake that Bertucci's fans in Boston, the chain's original home, still have great things to say about its signature brick oven pizza, the Sporkie. In fact, in a 2022 poll, over 15% of Boston.com readers voted this sausage and ricotta pie the chain's best pizza. The rolls are also a fan favorite, making the voters' top five items right next to the chicken piccata and rigatoni abruzzi. "Add in the amazing desserts, salads, and atmosphere," one reader said about their recently shuttered local Bertucci's, "and it was a place to love."

Pizza and pasta entrees range between $18 and $25 on average. That's a bit spendy, but the chain offers oodles of deals. From family meal deals advertised at $45 for the whole clan to game day deals and $1 Wing Wednesdays, Bertucci's can be extremely affordable if you take advantage of these promos.


We based this ranking on how much diners like the food at each spot, how authentic the fare is when compared to Italian cuisine, and the overall quality of the dining experience at each chain. We cited reviews and rankings from publications, bloggers, influencers, and diners to determine our choices and their placement on the list. We also used our own personal experiences, as well as that of other writers for The Daily Meal, in forming this list and its order.