Italian pasta dishes can evoke a singular vision of preparation, dishes like chicken parmesan, eggplant parmesan, and ravioli. Like these, shrimp scampi can evoke a specific preparation. Sautée some shrimp and toss it in a butter-garlic sauce with thin pasta like angel hair and you've got a memorable shrimp scampi.
Technically, scampi is a kind of shellfish larger than shrimp commonly found around Italy. The original version of the dish was simply known as scampi and made with the crustacean. In the 1920s, the switch was made to incorporate shrimp into the dish, and the culinary world never looked back. Although you may still find variations that use shellfish such as prawns instead of shrimp, the basic concept remains the same.
The good news for when those shrimp scampi cravings hit is that it's readily available at restaurant chains across the country. From casual Italian chains to more upscale seafood restaurants, there are shrimp scampi dishes at various price points and with a variety of twists on the basic formula, available around the country.
Casual seafood restaurant chain Red Lobster has learned a thing or two about memorable dishes, starting with its fan-favorite Cheddar Bay Biscuits. The fanfare continues with its garlic shrimp scampi, a dish that contains oven-broiled shrimp in a garlic sauce and is served with a choice of one side.
It's an especially good value during Red Lobster's Ultimate Endless Shrimp promotion. "My favorite dish is the shrimp scampi," wrote one Tripadvisor reviewer, adding, "If you have a hunger for seafood, then you can get your fix here. Fresh seafood cooked over a wood fire. Mmmmm."
The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory has built a reputation for having just about every kind of food, thanks in part to its menu that runs more than a dozen pages long. Among its seafood options is the shrimp scampi served "Paris bistro style." The shrimp is tossed with whole cloves of garlic, white wine, fresh basil, and tomato and served over angel hair pasta.
The shrimp scampi is one of those dishes that fans love so much that they made it their mission to find a way to recreate it at home. One Redditor posted in an
"Ask Me Anything" session with a Cheesecake Factory employee, "For the love of all things holy, how can I get my hands on the Shrimp Scampi recipe?"
Carrabba's Italian Grill
A highly rated casual Italian restaurant chain, Carrabba's Italian Grill is known for yummy pasta dishes that even chefs agree are worth trying. The shrimp scampi at Carrabba's is tossed in garlic, white wine, and a lemon butter sauce. Served with toasted garlic and herb bread, it's a savory dish that hits the spot.
Customers have plenty of good things to say about Carrabba's shrimp scampi, especially that lemon butter sauce. One fan left a review on Tripadvisor, sharing, "I know this is a chain restaurant, but their sauce for Shrimp Scampi is the best I've had! It isn't easy to get lemon juice and butter to meld together!" Another customer assures readers that the sauce isn't just there to mask the shrimp—the protein is another consistent star of the dish. "My favorite is the Scampi with pasta," they wrote on Tripadvisor. "They cook the shrimp perfectly. It just takes only a minute to overcook shrimp, and they never do."
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
It wouldn't be Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. if there wasn't shrimp served in as many ways as Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue could list them in the 1994 film "Forrest Gump." The chain, inspired by the movie, has a shrimp scampi dish called "Of Course We Have Scampi!" made with shrimp, linguine, tomatoes, lobster butter sauce, Parmesan cheese, and garlic bread. It's the ultimate comfort dish to eat while watching "Forrest Gump" play on a continuous reel during your visit.
If it's a dish with pasta, odds are high that you'll find it on Olive Garden's menu. According to the casual Italian restaurant chain, its shrimp scampi is a "lighter" take on the often heavy and rich dish, with shrimp sautéed in garlic sauce and tossed with asparagus, tomatoes, and angel hair pasta.
One Yelp reviewer loved the shrimp scampi from Olive Garden, sharing, "My dish was very, very good. It was lightly sauced, and my shrimp were huge. The asparagus was yummy and cooked perfectly. I enjoyed every last bite." If you have any doubts as to the quality of shrimp scampi coming from a casual restaurant chain, another Yelp reviewer may quiet your concerns, stating that the scampi "is very good for Olive Garden material."
While it's best known for deep-dish pizzas, BJ's Brewhouse has a menu filled with all kinds of cuisine to cater to every craving. If it's seafood and pasta you're after, the shrimp scampi is what you'll want to order. At BJ's, jumbo shrimp get sautéed and tossed with spaghetti, garlic butter sauce, diced tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, parsley, and parmesan cheese. It's served with garlic bread on the side.
One Tripadvisor reviewer thought the shrimp scampi was "spectacular and delicious." Another customer shared on Yelp, "I was beyond happy with my delicious shrimp scampi! Absolutely delicious, enough for me to bring some back home."
Maggiano's Little Italy
Whether it's serving lasagna or basic pasta dishes, Maggiano's Little Italy is a reliable casual Italian restaurant chain. Its no-frills approach to Italian cuisine keeps things simple to ensure happy customers. Maggiano's shrimp scampi also sticks to the basics, with shrimp tossed in garlic, lemon butter, and spaghetti. One reviewer at Tripadvisor was very pleased with the dish, sharing, "Delicious shrimp scampi!!! With the best sauce ever. Very large portions. Very attentive service. Quite happy with dinner."
Seafood lovers flock to Chart House for its array of tasty fish and crustacean dishes, as well as its steaks. There's nothing like a good surf-and-turf moment when you can't decide between land or sea. On the menu, Chart House has a few dishes listed under steak companions, one of which is shrimp. And you can order that shrimp as scampi, or go with grilled, coconut, or crunchy. You can also order shrimp scampi pasta as a family meal to-go option if you are looking for a larger portion to feed a crowd at home.
One customer left thoughts on the shrimp scampi on Tripadvisor, noting that "the sauce was pleasingly spicy and not just the typical garlic and oil base that most restaurants utilize. The scampi was really quite good."
McCormick & Schmick's
If an upscale seafood dinner is what the occasion calls for, head to McCormick & Schmick's. The restaurant chain is known for serving high-quality fish and shellfish dishes. Its jumbo prawn scampi is tossed with linguini, white wine, garlic, cherry heirloom tomatoes, and basil.
Customers praise the dish for its flavor and value, with one sharing on Yelp, "The shrimp scampi was flavorful and a large portion." Another Yelp reviewer called it "the best Shrimp Scampi pasta I've ever had."
If you find yourself in Chicago and you have a big appetite, seek out the nearest Moretti's. The restaurant chain serves both the city's iconic deep-dish pizza and thin-crust varieties, alongside several pasta dishes. Its lemon garlic shrimp scampi over angel hair combines jumbo shrimp, mushrooms, baby spinach, capers, garlic, shallots, fresh basil, and grape tomatoes, all sautéed together in a white wine butter sauce.