Imagine eating a delicious pasta dish at Olive Garden and having the bill come out to $0.00. Now, imagine if that happened 32 times in 49 days. We talked to someone who won the Olive Garden Unlimited Pasta Pass to get all of the details on his exclusive, carb-filled experience.
In September, Olive Garden gave away 21,000 pasta passes that allows customers to eat as many Never Ending Pasta bowls as their hearts desired (or their stomachs can handle). The passes are $100.00 and are good from October 3rd to November 20th.
It's not that easy to get one of these coveted passes. People wait in front of their computer for hours anticipating the moment when Olive Garden puts them on sale. The first 21,000 to click essentially win (although you have to pay $100.00 for the pass). It sold out in one second — I know, because I was at my computer waiting to click. In previous years, Olive Garden only gave away 1,000 passes.
Travis Lyles, Social Media Editor at the Virginian-Pilot, was one of the lucky winners. He set out on a mission to take full advantage of his treasured pasta pass, with a goal to go to Olive Garden 50 times.
"There are two Olive Gardens near me in Virginia. I would go every day for lunch and switch it up between the two locations," Lyles told Spoon. "The only time I didn't get a pasta bowl was on Election Day. They let me get a breadstick sandwich that day."
Lyles made it a point to eat two breadsticks during each visit, in addition to the pasta bowl. Talk about carbo-loading. At the end of the 49 days, he lost one pound.
"I never reached my goal of going 50 times. I went 32 times and lost one pound," he explained.
In addition to losing weight, he also saved a ton of money. Although he paid $100.00 for the pasta pass, he did the math and told us that without the pass, he would have spent $576.00 at Olive Garden. That's a great deal.
There are 125 possible combinations with the Never Ending Pasta Bowl. You can switch up the pastas, the sauces, and the protein. Lyles didn't try all 125 combinations, but we wanted to know which pasta was his favorite after going 32 times in a month and a half.
"The cavatappi with asiago garlic Alfredo sauce and grilled chicken was the best pasta dish I ordered."
But Lyles told us that he isn't all that impressed with Olive Garden's pasta, and if he really had to choose something to eat from its menu, it would be the crispy chicken.
"Olive Garden's crispy chicken is almost on the same level as Chick-fil-A."
Lyles did the math and concluded that he consumed about 50,000 calories in total at Olive Garden. That includes the breadsticks. And he still lost one pound.
After taking full advantage of the pasta pass, he's taking a break from Olive Garden — but not pasta. Although, Olive Garden might miss him.
"If I'm going to get pasta, I would rather go to Fazolis. It's cheaper for about the same quality."
The only reason he would go back to Olive Garden — for the crispy chicken.