Killer App: Olive Garden's Deep-Fried Lasagna Fritta is "Food Porn"

September 30, 2010

WASHINGTON—How do you gussy up a dated restaurant menu item like lasagna? If you’re the culinary brain trust at Olive Garden, the answer is obvious: Throw it in the deep-fryer.

Eating it, however, is throwing caution to the wind. Described by the company as “Parmesan-breaded lasagna pieces, fried and served over Alfredo sauce, topped with Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce,” the Lasagna Fritta appetizer has half a day’s calories (1,030) and a day’s worth of saturated fat (21 grams) and sodium (1,590 milligrams).

But to the health watchdogs at

Nutrition Action Healthletter, Lasagna Fritta is "food porn.”

Olive Garden already offered fried zucchini, fried mozzarella, and fried calamari appetizers. And other chains are innovating by deep-frying everything from balls of macaroni and cheese (The Cheesecake Factory) to pickles (Hooters).

“Lasagna’s not exactly health food to begin with, but bread it with cheese, deep-fry it, and plate it with cream sauce and still more cheese, and you have a killer app,” said Jayne Hurley, senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit publisher of Nutrition Action. “Shared with four or five people it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But odds are these 1,000-calorie appetizers are split with just one, amidst all-you-can-eat breadsticks, and in advance of a 1,000-calorie entrée. Lasagna Fritta is just garden variety food porn.”

Food Porn is featured on the back page of every issue of Nutrition Action. Previous food porns include Denny’s Grand Slamwich, Land O’Lakes Margarine, and Domino’s Bread-Bowl Pastas. The same page also highlights a Right Stuff healthier food. This month, Nutrition Action recommends Organic Bistro Whole Life Meals—low-sodium frozen dinners that include a lemony Chicken Citron with spinach, quinoa and edamame.


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