The Olive Garden Trick For When You Just Can't Decide On A Sauce

olive garden marquee
olive garden marquee - Lindajoheilman/Getty Images

Olive Garden restaurants may not be known for their devotion to traditional Tuscan recipes, but what they lack in authenticity, they make up for in customizability. The menu as it's printed is pretty concise but when you factor in all the swaps the kitchen can make for you, the possibilities are virtually endless.

The downside to having too many options, of course, is decision paralysis. If you become struck by the inability to make a choice between two sauces, there's some more good news: You can just get them both. Seriously, if you're stuck between zesty marinara and creamy Alfredo, just ask your server for half-and-half when placing your order.

There are a couple of caveats to note: If you're ordering online via Olive Garden's website or app, there's no option to mix sauces. You may only be able to make this request when dining in. Secondly, it's important to remember that Olive Garden is a franchise of almost 900 locations. For those reasons, off-menu orders allowed at one location may not be available at the next due to ingredient availability, restaurant policies, and other individualized factors. It's important to be understanding if your server tells you it's not possible.

Read more: The 101 Best Pizzas In America

In Your Marinara Era (Or Not)

Pasta with marinara and meatballs
Pasta with marinara and meatballs - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

If you're a sauce lover who frequents your local Olive Garden, you already know that sauce options abound. Most menu items already have a specific sauce and if you want, you can request swapping one for another. Alfredo ravioli? Why not? The "Make Your Own" pasta dish gives you a choice between marinara, five-cheese marinara, meat, and creamy mushroom. In the mood for something indulgent and rich? Ask for 50/50 of the creamy mushroom and five-cheese marinara. Want meat, cheese, and tomatoes all together? Try half meat sauce and half five-cheese marinara. Alfredo sauce isn't technically one of the sauce options for the "Make Your Own" pasta but some guests swear that a half-marinara, half-Alfredo dish is possible and a delicious hack that's just as good the next day.

Sauce fans are also likely aware that four of the chain's sauces are available to order by the pint: the classic marinara, the five-cheese marinara, the alfredo, and the meat sauce. It's a good option for making easy weeknight dinners that just require you to add your own pasta or if you just really like your leftovers to be swimming in sauce. Buy two or three of your favorite sauces and you can have combo tomato-Alfredo pasta or breadstick dipping sauce for the rest of the week.

Perfetto Per Te

pasta dishes with various sauces
pasta dishes with various sauces - Plateresca/Shutterstock

Sauce swaps and combos are only the beginning of the myriad ways you can customize your meal at Olive Garden. If you're in the mood for soup but can't decide between the wholesome, veggie-laden minestrone and the thick, creamy Zuppa Toscana, guess what: You can get both. Ask for half-and-half of each in the same bowl to create a meaty, creamy minestrone variation.

Some diners have reported success with asking for custom ravioli fillings beyond the standard cheese ravioli and ravioli carbonara on the menu. If the kitchen is amenable, you can swap the cheese filling for meat, broccoli, or something else that features in other dishes. Note that this off-menu substitution may or may not work depending on the kitchen workflow at that specific location. Some restaurants have staff make the ravioli in batches at the beginning of the day rather than to order during busy services. In such cases, those restaurants likely won't accommodate your request.

Since most items on the menu are made to order, you can generally make substitutions to suit dietary restrictions or just personal tastes. The signature salad can be made vegan by leaving off the croutons and switching the standard Italian dressing for oil and vinegar. Guests with gluten sensitivities can swap regular pasta for gluten-free rotini. Really, the only limits are your imagination and the kitchen's capabilities. Just be sure to show your appreciation by tipping well when you've finished your delicious, off-menu marinara-Alfredo Frankenpasta.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.