Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl brought back for the 25th anniversary of the deal and priced at $13.99, is valid only till November 20, 2022. The move is targeted at customers hit by inflation.

Never Ending Pasta makes a comeback

Olive Garden has good news for the die-hard fans of the Never Ending Pasta Bowl. The fan-favorite menu item is making a limited-period comeback at the restaurant chain in the 25th year of its promotion. But there is a caveat- customers can enjoy the deal only till November 20.
As per an Olive Garden spokesperson, customers can, after a two-year break, enjoy unlimited servings of pasta combinations, homemade soup or salad, and freshly baked breadsticks, but the toppings like meatballs, Italian sausage, and crispy chicken will cost $4.99 extra each.
The move to bring back the Never Ending Pasta Bowl comes in the wake of many competitors coming up with value-for-money deals to bring back price-conscious customers hit by inflation.

The announcement of the Pasta deal

Olive Garden launched its TikTok account on September 26. The initial four videos posted on the channel hinted at a big announcement by the end of the week. The teasers about "Coming Back" and "If You Didn't Have to" for choosing only one kind of pasta gave the game away that the highly requested and anticipated menu item was making a comeback.
The official announcement was made on September 29 that the Never Ending Pasta Bowl will be back on the Olive Garden menu from October 3 till November 20. Customers are being given four options for pasta, along with the famous breadsticks, salad, and soup.
The announcement was a surprise, as Darden Restaurants CEO Ricardo Cardenas had indicated in December 2021 that the fan favorite was on its way to being axed from the menu.
As per news reports, Jaime Bunker, senior vice president of marketing for Olive Garden, said that "2022 is the 25th anniversary of the Never Ending Pasta Bowl at Olive Garden, and it is one of the most popular offers as it represents our philosophy of abundant Italian food at affordable prices." She also added that they are looking forward to celebrating Never Ending Pasta Bowl's return with customers.

What you get in the Never Ending Pasta deal

Unlike the earlier pasta offer of $10.99, the new Never Ending Pasta Bowl will now cost you $13.99, courtesy of inflation.
If you order the Never Ending Pasta Bowl Menu, you will have a choice of pasta from fettuccine, spaghetti, rigatoni, or angel hair and sauce options like creamy mushroom, marinara, five-cheese marinara, meat sauce, and Alfredo. If you want extra toppings, you can choose from meatballs, Italian sausage, and chicken fritta, but you will have to pay an additional $4.99. The deal also includes the never-ending breadsticks, soup, and salad. The restaurant chain is also offering gluten-free pasta on request.
The decision to price the bowl at $13.99, up from $10.99, is to strike a balance between generating revenue through sales and protecting profits.

Reason for Pasta deal comeback

The last time Olive Garden offered the Never Ending Pasta Bowl was in 2019. The promotion was stopped during the two years the world was in the grip of the pandemic, and in December 2021, Rick Cardenas, CEO and president of Darden, had said that "they had decided to reduce the dependency on Never Ending Pasta Bowl as they did not need to drive volume into our restaurants." There was also an indication that the fan favorite may be permanently dropped from the menu. Many executives felt that the chain did not need the promotion.
But almost a year later, the Pasta Bowl's comeback is an indication of the change in restaurant trends. The decision to stop the Pasta Bowl in 2021 was due to staff shortages and an increase in same-store sales in 2021 as compared to the promotion period in 2019.
But now, the restaurant chain is having problems bringing in traffic, especially from lower-income consumers hit by inflation in the United States and this has led to bringing back the promotion, as long as it can help the bottom line.
Jaime Bunker said that the demand for Never Ending Pasta Bowl making a comeback, with a return to the pre-pandemic restaurant trend, is the right opportunity to bring back the fan favorite.

Is the Never-Ending Pasta Bowl a good deal?

There is a lot of hype surrounding the return of the Never Ending Pasta Bowl, but is it a good deal? Here is a look at the past deal as compared to other menu items-
The base price for the 2022 Pasta deal is $13.99. The next affordable pasta dish is the Fettuccine Alfredo at $16.99, and other entrees are priced between $17+ (Eggplant Parmigiana) and $22+ (Chicken Tortellini Alfredo). These prices can vary for every location, so check with your location for the full menu and prices.
You end up paying much less for more pasta with the Never Ending Pasta Bowl, but the Never Ending Pasta Bowl is a value-for-money deal if you can polish off two additional half-portions of pasta along with the original bowl, along with the soup or salad and breadsticks. If you can, then you will get a meal worth around $26 for $13.99.
Most American restaurant chains and Fast Food chains serve sizeable portions, so it will be a task to finish off two consecutive servings of Olive Garden pasta, and you may need to give up on breadsticks and the soup/salad.
Also, the Never Ending Pasta Bowl is offered only for dine-in and is not available for carry-out or delivery, so you cannot take your own sweet time to finish up. The chain also doesn't allow the order to be split among diners.
And if you add meat for an extra $4.99, that is an additional 150- 500 calories. So, you end up paying more for a deal you can not probably finish or enjoy.

How to get the most out of the Pasta deal

So, if you are wondering how to get the maximum benefit from the Never Ending Pasta Bowl, here is what you can do-
Olive Garden also has a permanent menu item called "Create Your Own Pasta" priced between $12.99 and $13.99, where you have the option to pick any pasta and sauce, along with your choice of soup or salad and breadsticks. You can finish off the full-size pasta portion and load up on breadsticks.
If you opt for the Never Ending Bowl, then choose the salad instead of soup, and do not eat the breadsticks. Eat your pasta and salad, and ask for the first pasta refill. The first portion you get is full size, and each subsequent refill is half size. You can get the first refill wrapped as leftovers. You also get to take all the breadsticks home as leftovers. Packing the pasta refill and breadsticks in a to-go box and opting for salad also lets you surpass the Create Your Own Pasta option in terms of dollar value.
Olive Garden is aware that it is statistically impossible that every diner can eat three pasta portions, soup or salad, and breadsticks enough to make the promotion unprofitable.

If not Pasta, what else?

It is not just the pasta bowl, Olive Garden also offers you never-ending breadsticks with your meal. You can keep asking your server to refill your breadstick basket; there is no limit.
Olive Garden also offers unlimited salads and soups for lunch and dinner, but is priced differently. The soups on offer for the Unlimited deal are Chicken & Gnocchi, Minestrone, Zuppa Toscana, and Pasta e Fagioli.
A salad, soup, and breadsticks lunch will cost you $7.99, but you will pay about $9.99 for dinner. You can get the combo for around $8.99 between 3 pm and 5 pm.