The Best & Worst Menu Items at Sbarro
When you're standing in front of a display of delicious pizza slices, it's tough not to overindulge or be torn about which kind to order. This is the problem many foodies have while dining at Sbarro, the well-known New-York style pizza chain that was founded in 1956.
With over 600 locations in 28 different countries, it's likely that you've come across a Sbarro in a shopping mall food court, airport, or college campus at least once in your lifetime, so we wanted to make your dining experience there easier for you. That said, we checked in with Morgan Brod, RDN, CDN to educate us on some of the best and worst menu options from the Italian shop's menu. To our surprise, the picks went far beyond their legendary pizza, with selections in categories including pasta, salads, and desserts.
Here are the worst and best items you can order from the Sbarro menu (Note: the menu options vary per location).
XL NY Pizza Slices
Best: NY Spinach and Tomato
This slice has landed itself as one of the best options due to the vegetables and lack of meat on top.
"Although this slice is still high in calories, it at least has some vegetables that add fiber and nutrients to your slice," Brod says. "Since it does not have processed meat, it has significantly less fat and sodium content when compared to some other slices."
Best: NY Mushroom
The yummy and nutritious mushrooms on this slice make it a good choice.
"This is one of the lowest calorie slices in the XL NY category," she says. "You are not adding more calories, fat, or sodium from extra toppings."
Worst: NY Pepperoni
The high amount of sodium in this meaty slice is what has made it one of the worst options.
"The American Heart Association recommends 2,300 milligrams of sodium [per] day for a healthy diet," Brod says. "This slice of pizza, that is likely only one meal of the day, has over half of the recommended amount (63 percent) at 1,459 milligrams sodium." Yikes!
Worst: NY Mama's Meatball
Although the name "Mama's Meatball" sounds homemade and inviting, you are better off taking a pass on it.
"This slice has one of the highest amounts of calories and saturated fat of the slices in this category," Brod says, before pointing out the high saturated fat content. "Increased intake of saturated fat can add to the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases."
Best: Roman Cheese
Sometimes simple is best, and in this case, that rings true.
"Along with portion size, add-ons to meals can make something go from bad to worse," Brod says. "Sticking with a classic cheese slice will likely help eliminate some of the unexpected additives."
Best: Roman Veggie
This fiber-packed slice is loaded with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and olives, which is ideal because it never hurts to try to get in a vegetable with every meal, according to Brod.
"Even on a slice of pizza, you are getting the nutritional benefits vegetables have to offer," she says.
Worst: Roman Meat Primo
In addition to the high sodium content, "this slice has as many carbs as two medium-sized bagels," Brod says. "It is easy to assume this is one portion since it is a slice, but comparatively, it is more like two-three portions in terms of carbohydrate content."
Worst: Roman Double Duo Pepperoni
Not only is this pizza overloaded with pepperoni, it's also overloaded with health disadvantages.
"The double portion of pepperoni on this slice adds a ton of additional calories, grams of fat, and milligrams of sodium," Brod says, before comparing this option to a cheese slice.
"Compared to a topping-less cheese slice, this has 200 more calories, 17 more grams of fat (including about double the amount of saturated fat), and 700 milligrams more sodium," she says. "The difference of calories and saturated fat is more than what is in one original glazed Krispy Kreme Doughnut."
Best: White Cheddar Mac & Cheese
While this meal sounds creamy and delicious, it's important to keep in mind that there really isn't a clear winner in this category.
"Unfortunately, even 'the best' pasta options on this menu are not the healthiest choice in terms of a balanced, portion-controlled meal," Brod says. "The dishes, including this one, are extremely high in calories, fat, and sodium."
This ziti could be a better option if there were some vegetables included—and if there wasn't so much sodium.
"In general, pasta can be a perfectly fine dinner option, but I like to make sure I have some veggies with it and I try my best to not overeat," Brod says. "Unfortunately, the pasta choices on this menu, including the ziti, do not provide much variety in terms of nutritional content."
Worst: Chicken Parm with Baked Ziti
This hearty meal is a big no-no due to its extremely high sodium content.
"This single dish exceeds the recommended daily amount of sodium. There is a saying don't put all your eggs in one basket—well try not to put all your day's sodium recommended allowance in one dish either," Brod says. "Not only will you have other sources of natural sodium throughout your day, but you may also have other added sources as well. Such a high sodium content usually is associated with more processed foods."
Worst: Ziti with Chicken
With a high amount of calories, fat, sodium, and carbs, this pasta and meat combo is easily one of the worst menu options.
"The average American consumes 2,000-2,500 calories a day. This meal is 60-75 percent of a day's average intake," Brod says. "Portion control is very hard in restaurants, especially chains. You are often provided with a large portion that typically is enough food for two, sometimes even three meals. A great tip is to ask for a box when your food is delivered and immediately put half away to bring home."
Best: Greek Salad
This blend of romaine, cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, black olives, banana peppers, and feta is a great choice.
"This salad is a good balance of vegetables, protein from the cheese, and healthy fats from the olives," Brod says. "Add grilled chicken for a good source of lean protein to help keep you full for longer." And when eating any type of salad, putting the dressing on the side is always best for portion control.
"Choose something like an olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture to avoid added sugars," she says.
Worst: Sbarro House Salad
This salad is packed with spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, bacon, pepperoni, mozzarella, garlic, croutons, and Italian dressing, which has bumped up the fat and sodium content in this dish.
"Just like toppings on pizza can add hidden calories, salad toppings can as well. With the pepperoni, bacon, and mozzarella in this salad, it has the same amount of fat as 5 1/2 Twix Candy Bars," Brod says. "A healthier salad choice tends to be those with more vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, unlike the saturated ones found here. Also, try the dressing on the side so you can control the amount."
Best: Veggie Stromboli (6")
This veggie-packed stromboli is one of your better options from this category.
"Even for the veggie choice, this is still fairly high in calories for the portion size," Brod says. "However, you are not getting any additional calories, fat, or sodium from the fillings."
Worst: Three-Meat Stromboli (12")
Since this option, which is twice the size of the veggie stromboli, is loaded with bacon, pepperoni, and sausage, it's no wonder it's packed with calories, fat, and sodium.
"Most of the less healthy features to highlight in this dish are due to the portion size when comparing this to the Veggie Stromboli," Brod says. "If you opt for the meat choice, perhaps split it in half to save on calories, fat, and sodium."
"It may be due to the portion size or the nature of the dessert, but this happens to be a lower calorie option in comparison to some other desserts on the menu," Brod says of the traditional coffee-based Italian sweet treat. "Sweets always have a place as long as they fit into a balanced day and are eaten mindfully in moderation."
Worst: Cinnamon Breadsticks
Although they sound sweet and delicious, these sugar-packed breadsticks are also high in calorie count.
"At 1,080 calories, this is more calorically dense than even a slice of pizza," she says. "Consider splitting a dessert like this with the table to get your sweet fix while not unintentionally overdoing it."