Shrimp scampi, pepperoni pizza, mozzarella sticks, marinara sauce, veal parmigiana, spaghetti and meatballs. Those are some of the “Italian” foods you’d be hard-pressed to find in Italy, according to Fodors.com.
No matter. Americans seem to love what restaurants call Italian food. And the same goes for dessert. But how much damage does it do to our waistlines and arteries?
Here’s a sampling of dessert items from some major Italian chain restaurants. The numbers—we took them from the companies’ Web sites—are likely to reflect what you’d get in similar dishes at similar restaurants.
Carrabba’s Mini Cannoli
Saturated Fat: 34 grams
Sugar: 11 ½ teaspoons
“Two crisp mini pastry shells stuffed with sweet ricotta and chocolate chip filling, topped with pistachios and powdered sugar.” Each mini cannoli has nearly a day’s saturated fat.
Saturated Fat: 31 grams
Sugar: 12 ½ teaspoons
“Ladyfingers soaked in espresso with mascarpone cheese.” You’re looking at more calories than the Tiramisu at Olive Garden (510) or Macaroni Grill (690), but it pales in comparison to Carrabba’s version (1,060). Olive Garden’s Amaretto Tiramisu Dolcini cuts the calories to 240 and the saturated fat to 9 grams because it’s tiny.
Carraba’s Panna Cotta
Saturated Fat: 27 grams
Sugar: 5 ½ teaspoons
“Housemade Madagascar vanilla bean custard with fresh raspberries” may sound like a light dessert, but it’s like eating an 8 oz. tub of Kraft Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese Spread sprinkled with 4 teaspoons of sugar.
Olive Garden White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
Saturated Fat: 36 grams
Congrats. You’ve just finished your meal with the equivalent of a Dairy Queen Banana Split topped with half a stick of melted butter. And Maggiano’s New York Style Cheesecake, with its 1,130 calories and 47 grams of artery gunk, lays the groundwork for an entirely new layer of belly.
Carraba’s Sogno Di Cioccolata
Saturated Fat: 35 grams
Sugar: 22 teaspoons
“A rich fudge brownie with chocolate mousse, fresh whipped cream and housemade chocolate sauce.” Memo to fat cells and arteries: Make room for nearly two days’ saturated fat and almost half a cup of (mostly) added sugar—about what you’d get in a whole box of Girl Scout Thin Mints.
Maggiano’s Apple Crostada
Saturated Fat: 40 grams
Sugar 23 ½ teaspoons
Granny Smith apples baked in a buttery pastry crust, dipped in cream and crystallized sugar, and served with caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Why not save some money and head to McDonald’s for five Baked Apple Pies plus a Vanilla Cone? They’ll do about the same damage.