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When you’re looking for a quick and simple meal, few options are as satisfying as a steaming bowl of pasta with your favorite sauce and go-to add-ins. While pasta is arguably one of the easiest dishes to cook at home, sometimes you don’t have the time, energy, or desire to make it yourself.
Fortunately, there are some chains that offer various pasta dishes served quickly and at a lower price than traditional Italian restaurants. While the chains’ food might not compare to the dishes served at its higher-end counterparts, stopping by one of these pasta joints is one way to get your fettuccine fix.
Whether you’re craving a hearty bowl of mac and cheese or a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, there are several fast-food and fast-casual chains that serve all kinds of pasta dishes. The next time you’re on the go and in need of a meal—or simply don’t feel like cooking—you’ll want to consider stopping by one of these pasta-friendly chains.
Founded in 2010, this fast-casual Italian restaurant chain has 51 locations across seven states, with its largest presence being in Ohio. In addition to serving hand-rolled piada wraps, salads, and a power bowl, Piada Italian Street Food offers multiple tossed pasta dishes, including carbonara, diavolo, basil pesto, and marinara. As with ordering the bowls, guests may also customize their pasta dishes with their choice of protein, sauce, and toppings.
Similar to other fast-casual spots like Chipotle, Piada employees prepare the food in an assembly line, which the chain says “invites you to share in the experience as our chefs craft your meal, to order.”
Some might call this fast-casual restaurant chain a pasta lover’s paradise, as it serves up “globally inspired noodle bowls,” soups, salads, and “world famous Macs.” The chain’s Wisconsin Mac & Cheese is the most-ordered dish across the menu nationwide and has been a fan-favorite for the past 28 years, according to the company.
“Each year we sell more than 13.5 million bowls of Wisconsin Mac & Cheese and go through more than three million pounds of premium cheese sauce to make the famous dish,” Stacey Pool, chief marketing officer at Noodles & Company, said in a recent press release.
In addition to boasting an expansive pasta-centric menu, Noodles & Company prides itself on its ingredient sourcing. The chain highlights its use of 14 fresh vegetables prepared daily, cage-free eggs, and organic milk and tea. Plus, none of the menu items contain artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
Although this 120-year-old New England chain claims on its website that it doesn’t offer fast food, it does point out that it has “quick takeout.” While best known for its sandwiches, Amato’s caters to pasta fans with its pasta buckets, classic pasta dinners, and customizable pasta dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, or penne and meatballs, this chain whips up many of the most beloved Italian restaurant staples while prioritizing the use of hand-selected ingredients.
“Your sauce is wonderful!!!” one Facebook user commented on a 2021 post shared by Amato’s. And it looks like others agree. The restaurant chain lets fans bring Amato’s right to their kitchen, as it sells jars of its marinara, pasta, and pizza sauces online and in select grocery stores like Hannaford’s.
Pasta is probably not the first food that comes to mind when thinking about drive-thrus, but don’t count Fazoli’s out. This fast-food chain, which has 211 locations across the U.S., serves all sorts of casual Italian-American dishes, including fan-favorites like baked lasagna and signature bakes like spicy baked ziti with chicken.
Want to try a little bit of everything? Fazoli’s currently offers three pasta samplers that consist of a few different pasta dishes. Take the Ultimate Sampler, for instance. This includes fettuccine Alfredo, penne with meat sauce, lasagna with meat sauce, and spaghetti with a meatball. And don’t forget: breadsticks are unlimited at Fazoli’s when you dine in.
The biggest pizza chain in the U.S. serves more than just pizza. For those seeking a quick pasta meal, Domino’s offers four pasta dishes: chicken Alfredo, Italian sausage marinara, chicken carbonara, and pasta primavera. There’s also the option to build your own pasta bowl with your choice of sauce, meat, and vegetables. All pasta dishes can be served in a bread bowl, as well.
If you’re looking for additional ordering inspiration, there’s even a Reddit thread dedicated to customers’ go-to custom pasta orders. “Make the chicken bacon ranch pizza into a pasta. Thank me later,” one user suggested. “Chicken Alfredo pasta, replace chicken with sausage, add provolone underneath and on top of the Alfredo. Tastes amazing,” another one recommended.
While you won’t find any Italian-inspired pasta dishes at Panera, the fast-casual chain is famous for its mac and cheese. In fact, it was revealed in 2019 that Panera dishes out over three million servings of its mac and cheese per month.
At the bakery-café chain, customers can choose between the classic mac and cheese or the broccoli cheddar version, which features seasoned broccoli and carrots. To elevate the iconic cheesy dish, there’s also the option to have it served in a bread bowl.