We Try All the Desserts at the Olive Garden

[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

If you make it past the unlimited breadsticks, oil-slicked salad, and a carb-heavy entrée at the Olive Garden and still manage to be in the market for dessert, you've got a lot of options—14, to be exact (counting two limited-time, seasonal desserts). In addition to five different "Piccoli Dolci" (little dessert treats) available individually or as a trio, there's a decent variety of cakes by the slice, along with zeppoli and tiramisu.

I don't know about you, but it's been ages since I last had dinner at the Olive Garden. My relationship with the Orlando-based chain is short, but intense, peaking in the early 90s, and fizzling out by the decade's end (when the only location near me shuttered). The restaurant was a go-to spot for special occasions during my teenage years, and consequently, all of my memories of it are frosted in a thick layer of adolescent nostalgia.

Piccoli Dolci

Stepping into an Olive Garden for the first time in 15 years was surreal. It was as if the entire restaurant had been cryogenically frozen since my last visit, existing untouched by time. From the over-abundance of cream-colored stucco, to the chairs on casters, and even the dessert menu, nothing seems to have changed...except maybe the cost and the fact that calorie counts are now displayed on menus (for better or worse).

With price tags ranging from $5.99 to $8.29 (in San Diego, prices vary nationwide), and calorie counts from 210 to over 1,000, if you're going to order dessert at The Olive Garden, it pays to be smart about what you choose. Of the 14 different options, only three were really excellent, while many more were duds (to varying degrees). For a closer look at all of the desserts available and what what we thought, flip through the slideshow &raquo