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The Best & Worst Menu Items at Maggiano's, According to a Dietitian

Treat yourself while still sticking to your health goals with these Maggiano's menu tips.
FACT CHECKED BY Samantha Boesch

Maggiano's Little Italy stands as a testament to the rich, heartwarming flavors of Italian-American cuisine, offering a chain dining experience that feels both luxurious and intimately familial. Established with the aim of bringing the best of Italy's traditional recipes to the broader public, Maggiano's menu dishes out generous portions of pasta, succulent meats, and freshly prepared salads, all within an ambiance that pays homage to the charming Italian countryside.

Although many of their dishes feature a slew of veggies, some of Maggiano's dishes tend to be high in sodium and unhealthy fats too, but this isn't just Maggiano's, of course. Studies have shown that chain restaurants tend to offer high-sodium dishes despite their efforts to lower these counts within newly-introduced dishes. So, how can you continue to nourish your body on date night or family night without sacrificing taste and fun?

That's where we come in! We've rounded up 20 of the best and worst menu items at Maggiano's, pulling from 9 different categories, ranging from appetizers to entrées to desserts. We dove headfirst into the nutrition content of each dish, pulling those that are the most heart-healthy and wholesome, while highlighting those from which you probably want to stay away (or share, if you do want to indulge).

Read on to learn more about the best and worst orders on the Maggiano's men. Then check out the Best Low-Calorie Dinners at 10 Popular Chain Restaurants.


Best: PEI Steamed Mussels, Tuscan Style

Maggiano's PEI Steamed Mussels, Tuscan Style
Nutrition (Per appetizer):
Calories: 670
Fat: 33 g (Saturated fat:13 g)
Sodium: 1,910 mg
Carbs: 53 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 42 g

Maggiano's Prince Edward Island Steamed Mussels, prepared in the Tuscan Style, features extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic, and other accouterments such as sundried tomatoes and white cannellini beans.

Although not necessarily light on sodium (most all foods on the Maggiano's menu contain high amounts of sodium), heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in both the EVOO and the mussels themselves. which can support cardiovascular health and may even aid in symptoms related to depression.

 7 Most Authentic Dishes at an Italian Restaurant, Chefs Say

Best: Balsamic Tomato Bruschetta

plate of Maggiano's Bruschetta
Nutrition (Per appetizer):
Calories: 380
Fat: 21 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 1,100 mg
Carbs: 37 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 10 g

This Balsamic Tomato Bruschetta is surprisingly low in saturated fats, which is ideal as the American Heart Association recommends no more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day in order to help stave off risks such as cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, this bruschetta features 10 grams of protein which may help you feel more satiated before your entree even arrives. This may be a good way to aid in portion control as Maggiano's tends to serve up giant bowls of pasta for main courses.

Worst: Crispy Zucchini Fritte

Maggiano's Crispy Zucchini Fritte
Nutrition (Per appetizer):
Calories: 1,740
Fat: 133 g (Saturated fat: 24 g)
Sodium: 2,500 mg
Carbs: 115 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 15 g)
Protein: 22 g

Zucchini is healthy for you, right? Well, yes, but that nutritional density really weakens when battered and fried. The Crispy Zucchini Appetizer alone provides 1,740 calories with a whopping 24 grams of saturated fat—nearly double the AHA's daily recommendation of 13 grams per day—and also pumps you full of 2,500 milligrams of sodium. The FDA considers a full "daily value" of sodium to be 2,300 milligrams, so in one appetizer, you're thoroughly exceeding this limit. Our recommendation is to steer clear and choose something a bit lighter to introduce your palate.

 The Worst Appetizers To Avoid at 15 Restaurant Chains, According to Dietitians


Best: Italian Tossed Salad (Entrée)

Maggiano's Italian Tossed Salad (Entrée)
Nutrition (Per salad):
Calories: 590
Fat: 45 g (Saturated fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 1,840 mg
Carbs: 39 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 10 g

Your best bet for a healthy Maggiano's salad is to opt for their Italian Tossed Salad. This veggie-heavy entrée includes Kalamata olives, red onions, tomatoes, and pepperoncini, as well as garlic croutons, house cheese, and Italian vinaigrette.

This salad clocks in at under 600 calories, but if you're looking to further cut down on your sodium and sugar intake, we suggest holding the croutons and opting for the dressing on the side. If you're hoping to add more protein to your salad, you can easily add lean chicken, which will add 26 grams of protein with little unwanted sodium.

 10 Best Restaurant Salads to Order

Worst: Wedge Salad (Entrée)

plate of Maggiano's wedge salad
Nutrition (Per salad):
Calories: 1,040
Fat: 94 g (Saturated fat: 27 g)
Sodium: 1,740 mg
Carbs: 18 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 34 g

Just because your entrée is a salad doesn't mean that it's automatically healthy. In fact, Maggiano's Wedge Salad contains just as many calories as the Four Cheese Ravioli! Of course, calories certainly aren't the sole indicator of an unhealthy meal, but with 27 grams of saturated fat, 1,740 milligrams of sodium, and 9 grams of sugar, this salad doesn't offer much except bulky protein. You can easily get just as much protein by switching to a lighter salad with added chicken.

 10 Unhealthiest Restaurant Salads—Ranked by Sugar Content


Best: Minestrone Bowl

Maggiano's Little Italy/Twitter
Nutrition (Per bowl):
Calories: 120
Fat: 5 g (Saturated fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 1,030 mg
Carbs: 18 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 2 g

Minestrone soup is perhaps the epitome of the Mediterranean Diet, which has been extensively studied thanks to its correlations with reduced cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even age-related cognitive dysfunction. This minestrone is packed with heart-healthy ingredients such as onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans, just to name a few. With less than a gram of saturated fat and only 120 calories per bowl, this is a great starter for any meal.

 The #1 Healthiest Soup at 10 Major Restaurant Chains

Worst: Creamy Chicken and Potato Bowl

Maggiano's Creamy Chicken and Potato Bowl
Trip Advisor
Nutrition (Per Bowl):
Calories: 350
Fat: 25 g (Saturated fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 2,340 mg
Carbs: 28 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 9 g

Unfortunately, not all soups are made equally. A bowl of Creamy Chicken and Potato soup contains a whopping 10 grams of saturated fat—thanks to the cream—as well as your complete daily value of sodium. With a low fiber content, this soup doesn't offer much by way of nutrition. It's important to remember that, if you choose a cream-based soup as a starter, you are going to want to take a beat before ordering a cream-based pasta dish, as well.

Classic & Specialty Pasta

Best: Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce

Maggiano's Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce
Nutrition (Per pasta dish):
Calories: 840
Fat: 26 g (Saturated fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 2,220 mg
Carbs: 133 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 21 g)
Protein: 23 g

Just because Maggiano's Classic Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce doesn't feature any meat, this dish actually offers 23 grams of protein with only 2 grams of saturated fat and under 850 calories.

Lycopene, the compound that makes tomatoes (and tomato sauces) red has been shown in certain studies to potentially lower the risk or hinder the growth of certain cancers including both breast and prostate. Although there's no guarantee that lycopene is a miracle antioxidant, it can't hurt to fuel yourself with this popular produce choice.

And even though this is a better-for-you choice on the menu, it is still relatively high in sodium, carbohydrates, and fat. Ideally, this dish would be shared and enjoyed along with a light salad or Minestrone soup.

 The #1 Healthiest Pasta Dish at 10 Major Restaurant Chains

Best: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Maggiano's Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Nutrition (Per pasta dish):
Calories: 930
Fat: 28 g (Saturated fat: 5 g)
Sodium: 2,540 mg
Carbs: 134 g (Fiber: 10 g, Sugar: 22 g)
Protein: 37 g

If you're looking for a bit more of a protein boost, Maggiano's Classic Spaghetti with Meat Sauce could be a good option, as it offers 37 grams of protein without much more sodium or sugar. This dish also serves up 10 grams of fiber, and you can even boost this fiber count further by swapping the regular spaghetti for whole grain spaghetti.

Like the spaghetti and marinara, this dish, while a "better" choice, is still high in calories, sodium, and sugar. Split this dish with a friend and enjoy it with a vegetable-packed lighter appetizer for a more balanced meal.

Worst: Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo

plate of fettuccini alfredo from Maggiano's
Nutrition (Per pasta dish):
Calories: 1,450
Fat: 75 g (Saturated fat: 34 g)
Sodium: 3,640 mg
Carbs: 134 g (Fiber: 11 g, Sugar: 13 g)
Protein: 70 g

Maggiano's Shrimp Fettuccini Alfredo is one of the unhealthiest items on their menu at 1,450 calories per dish. Additionally, this dish contains a whopping 34 grams of saturated fat, which is alarming for even the healthiest of adults.

So, let's unpack this. This dish contains 70% of your daily calorie allotment if you're following a standard 2,000-calorie diet, contains nearly three times your daily saturated fat needs as cited by the AHA, and also exceeds your daily sodium limit by at least half.

 10 Unhealthiest Restaurant Pasta Dishes


Best: Chicken Marsala

Maggiano's Chicken Marsala
Nutrition (Per chicken dish):
Calories: 970
Fat: 43 g (Saturated fat: 16 g)
Sodium: 1,840 mg
Carbs: 74 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 12 g)
Protein: 67 g

To be frank, the chicken options at Maggiano's all fall within around 300 calories of each other, so it becomes a marginal numbers game when choosing the healthiest chicken dish on the menu. We've concluded that the Chicken Marsala is the healthiest option, as it contains less than 1,000 calories and a low(er) saturated fat count of 16 grams.

That being said, this dish still contains more saturated fat than recommended per day, and with 12 grams of sugar, this dish isn't quite cutting it in the nutritional department. However, this dish does contain far less saturated fat than our unhealthiest option.

Worst: Chicken Francese

Mangiano's Chicken Francese
Nutrition (Per chicken dish):
Calories: 910
Fat: 55 g (Saturated fat: 27 g)
Sodium: 1,880 mg
Carbs: 38 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 71 g

It's important to remember that calorie count does not always equate to a "best" choice. In fact, our unhealthiest chicken dish, the Chicken Francese, contains the least calories of all chicken dishes, but it also contains the highest saturated fat count of 27 grams, which is well over double the daily limit of 13 grams per day.

Additionally, over half of this dish's calories come from fat alone. This is probably attributable to the lemon butter with which the chicken is drenched, and although delicious, give this one a wide berth. And don't be fooled by the "lower" calories listed on the menu as it doesn't paint the whole picture.

 The 10 Unhealthiest Chicken Dishes At Major Restaurant Chains


Best: Branzino Fresco Style

Maggiano's Branzino Fresco Style
Nutrition (Per seafood dish):
Calories: 650
Fat: 47 g (Saturated fat: 11 g)
Sodium: 1,630 mg
Carbs: 9 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 47 g

Although we're not in love with the saturated fat levels (most dishes at Maggiano's don't cut it for us in that department), we do love the lower calorie and sodium counts within the Branzino Fresco-Style seafood dish. Branzino, a mild white fish found in the Mediterranean, is served with spinach, roasted tomatoes, and a lemon-herb sauce. You'll notice that this dish doesn't soar above your daily sodium limit, and with 47 grams of protein, you'll leave the table feeling satiated without being too weighed down or groggy.

 The #1 Healthiest Order at 8 Major Seafood Restaurants

Worst: Chef KB's Lobster Carbonara

Maggiano's Chef KB's Lobster Carbonara
Nutrition (Per seafood dish):
Calories: 1,810
Fat: 111 g (Saturated fat: 50 g)
Sodium: 4,430 mg
Carbs: 141 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 16 g)
Protein: 71 g

Although lobster is high in nutrients such as protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12, the other ingredients in Chef KB's Lobster Carbonara overpower any nutritional value. Made with smoked bacon and a truffle cream sauce, this dish packs in 1,810 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat, 4,430 milligrams of sodium, and 16 grams of sugar. These numbers are alarming, and no, that saturated fat count isn't a typo. If you decide to indulge in this dish, consider sharing it with a friend and order an Italian salad on the side.

 The #1 Unhealthiest Order at 8 Major Seafood Chains

Steak & Veal

Best: Center Cut Filet Mignon

Maggiano's Center Cut Filet Mignon
Nutrition (Per steak):
Calories: 750
Fat: 47 g (Saturated fat: 22 g)
Sodium: 2,170 mg
Carbs: 31 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 58 g

At Maggiano's, the leanest cut of meat is their Center Cut Filet Mignon, which clocks in at 47 grams of fat. 22 of these, although higher than what we'd like to see, are saturated fats, yet this steak does provide ample protein, a low sugar profile, and only 750 calories.

That being said, this filet mignon is topped with garlic butter and steak jus, which, if you were to remove just a portion of these additives, would significantly reduce your fat and sodium intake. Consider, also, asking for double asparagus instead of garlic mashed potatoes which are filled with butter.

 7 Restaurant Chains That Serve the Best Steaks

Worst: 16-Oz. Bone-In Ribeye

bone in ribeye on a plate from Maggiano's
Nutrition (Per steak):
Calories: 1,900
Fat: 167 g (Saturated fat: 74 g)
Sodium: 2,220 mg
Carbs: 37 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 6g)
Protein: 68 g

A Rib-Eye steak is one of the fattiest cuts of steak you can order at any restaurant, and Maggiano's really ups the ante with their 16-ounce offering. As a single serving is about 3-4 ounces of red meat—and eating more than 3.5 servings (or 12 ounces) of red meat a week is linked to some serious cardiovascular disease risks—you're consuming well over the recommended weekly amount in one sitting.

If you are going to opt for this steak (but please, double check that 74 grams of saturated fat), we recommend sharing it amongst friends and loading up on asparagus, as well.


Best: Fresh Grilled Asparagus

plate of Maggiano's asparagus
Nutrition (Per side):
Calories: 70
Fat: 4.5 g (Saturated fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 310 mg
Carbs: 5 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 5 g

Unsurprisingly, the healthiest side option at Maggiano's is their Fresh Grilled Asparagus which is just what it says it is. At under 75 calories with less than 2 grams of saturated fat, these asparagus are only lightly buttered and seasoned so that you won't find your veggies dripping. Notably, these asparagus offer 5 grams of protein and can pair nicely with any dish whether it's pasta or veal. Asparagus is packed with antioxidants, and when cooked, these antioxidants tend to become more bioavailable, meaning more easily digestible and utilized within the body.

Worst: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Maggiano's Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Nutrition (Per side):
Calories: 520
Fat: 35 g (Saturated fat: 21 g)
Sodium: 1,010 mg
Carbs: 49 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 9 g

Although potatoes are not unhealthy in themselves (they're actually a source of vitamins C and B6), Maggiano's Garlic Mashed Potatoes are not quite the picture of a healthy food. With 21 grams of fat per side, over a thousand milligrams of sodium, and a low fiber content, these potatoes aren't bringing much to the table. It actually may be healthier to opt for a side of pasta and olive oil than mashed potatoes as it constitutes far less saturated fat at 9 grams. All in all, it's better to go for the asparagus, broccoli, or even the crispy Vesuvio potatoes.

 The #1 Unhealthiest Side Dish at 11 Popular Restaurant Chains


Best: Mini Crème Brulee

Maggiano's Mini Creme Brulee
Maggiano's Little Italy/Facebook
Nutrition (Per dessert):
Calories: 240
Fat: 18 g (Saturated fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 30 mg
Carbs: 19 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 17 g)
Protein: 3 g

Maggiano's Mini Crème Brulee is our top choice for "healthiest" dessert as it clocks in under 250 calories and contains a very low sodium count at only 30 grams. Choosing the "mini" option is an easy way to exercise portion control which has direct correlations with proper weight management. Even better if you share! And pro tip: enjoy your dessert with a cup of tea, which provides plant compounds that support heart health.

 The #1 Healthiest Dessert at 14 Popular Restaurant Chains

Worst: Chocolate Layer Cake

Maggiano's Chocolate Layer Cake
Nutrition (Per dessert):
Calories: 1,310
Fat: 75 g (Saturated fat: 33 g)
Sodium: 990 mg
Carbs: 155 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 112 g)
Protein: 16 g

Maggiano's Chocolate Layer Cake is by far the unhealthiest contender in their dessert category. Just one serving constitutes about 65% of your daily caloric intake (if you're following a standard 2,000-calorie diet) while also offering up 33 grams of saturated fat, just under a thousand grams of sodium, and – get this – 112 grams of sugar. We can only assume that most all of this sugar is added, and the FDA's current dietary guidelines suggest no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from sugar. This dessert blows all of those restrictions out of the water. But it sure is delicious!

Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more about Lauren
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