Vegan Options At Macaroni Grill

What Are The Vegan Options At Macaroni Grill? (Updated Guide)

Macaroni Grill is one of those places that often comes up in a conversation about Italian food. Sure, it’s a chain restaurant, yet it still carries a certain flair that makes you forget about the big business aspect and focus on their fantastic food and ambiance instead.

There’s something incredibly appealing about the atmosphere at Macaroni Grill, which could be what makes it such a popular restaurant amongst Americans. The truth is in the details: the bottle of Chianti waiting for you at the table, how the butcher paper feels beneath your elbows as you look around the beautifully decorated room, or the dim orange lighting that fills the place with warmth and excitement.

Whatever it is, the place is unique, and it would be too bad if vegans weren’t able to have a great dining experience at Macaroni Grill.

Is It Vegan-Friendly?

Now that you’re most likely dying to hit the Italian joint for some fresh pasta, we have to ask, “What are the vegan options at Macaroni Grill?”

Macaroni Grill isn’t a vegan restaurant, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to eat there. Indeed, the menu offers options that may make your trip to Macaroni Grill worthwhile. But you’ll have to customize your order and choose from the sides section to build a substantial vegan meal.

Read on to learn about Macaroni Grill’s story. We’ll also look at a few fun facts that you’ll be able to use to impress your friends while you wait for your food. Then we’ll breakdown the entire menu and ultimately decide if Macaroni Grill is a decent place for us vegans.

A (Very) Brief History

Macaroni Grill was created by Philip J. Romano, an Italian American from New York. The first location opened in Leon Springs, Texas, in 1988. The place was an absolute hit; it was quickly made into a franchise the following year. It enjoyed significant success throughout the 90s and early 2000s before losing steam in 2017 when filing for bankruptcy. Miraculously, Macaroni Grill was able to stay afloat and still has 88 locations around the U.S. today.

What Is It Like?

The concept of the place is clear: to give customers an Italian dining experience for any occasion. It’s a casual restaurant that makes you feel at home. The service is efficient and friendly. Macaroni Grill prides itself on serving the freshest ingredients, innovative dishes, and quality wine at affordable prices. And it’s for the entire family. But what about vegan customers? Will they be able to take part in this Italian affair? Read on and find out!

Fun Facts

Let’s look at some fun facts you can share during dinner or whenever the convo gets a little flat. Who likes those long awkward silences?

1. A lot of dishes on the menu refer to a certain Mama. She’s known as Mama Romano, but she isn’t Philip Romano’s mother. She’s no one’s mother since she’s a fictional character created to give Macaroni Grill a motherly touch.

2. Philip Romano was running another restaurant chain before opening Macaroni Grill. You’ll be surprised to know that he was involved in the burger business. He ran the burger joint Fuddruckers. Throughout his career, he invested and created over twenty different restaurants. One thing’s for sure; he was a busy man.

3. When you’re at Macaroni Grill, everyone looks forward to the moment when warm bread is brought to your table. Your waiter/waitress might also mix up “Italian butter.” But there’s no dairy in this butter. I can’t imagine anyone making actual butter at your table, even though that would be quite the sight to see. No, this butter is a mix of olive oil, vinegar, and parmesan cheese that you use to complement your bread (make sure to omit the parmesan to keep it vegan, of course).

4. The tabletops are all fitted with a white tablecloth that kids and adults draw on with crayons. But it’s not your standard A4 paper. This type of paper is called butcher paper. Butchers mostly used it to wrap up meat, so it inherited the name. Restaurants love it; it makes for easy cleanup.

Hopefully, these four fun facts will come in handy at some point. If not, you’ve perhaps learned something interesting.

The Menu

Macaroni Grill’s menu isn’t overwhelming and is easy to navigate. The main menu comprises six categories. 

· Antipasti

· Salad + soup

· Land + sea

· Pasta

· Create your own

· Sides

Let’s look at each one and ultimately design a Macaroni Grill vegan menu.

Antipasti

In this section of the menu, two delicious options await you but be sure to modify your bruschetta.

· Crispy Brussels Sprouts (crispy Brussels sprouts halves, balsamic glaze)

· Bruschetta (grilled rosemary bread, whipped ricotta, Roma tomatoes, garlic, basil) make sure to omit the whipped ricotta

The Brussels sprouts need no modification but note that you’ll have to ask for your bruschetta without the cheese.

Salad & Soup

The next section is rather disappointing. The only possible option for you is to order the tomato basil soup. But be aware that the soup could be made with chicken broth. Different locations have different answers concerning the type of broth they use in their soups. So, in this case, ask your waiter/waitress about the kind of broth they use for their soups. If they use vegetable broth, order up! But if they don’t? More bread, perhaps?

Land & Sea

A section named Land & Sea doesn’t inspire much hope. It’s made up of chicken, lamb, salmon, shrimp, and steak. This section was never going to be suitable for you. Excuse me; we’re going to’ need more bread here!

Pasta

Unfortunately, this section isn’t any better than the previous one. Every dish uses meat and some form of dairy. They seem somewhat difficult to customize, so I suggest passing this section and focusing on the next one.

Create Your Own

Finally, a section that you can play with! Here you’ll be able to choose your favorite pasta, sauce, and toppings.

Pasta

· Spaghetti

· Capellini

· Penne

· Fettuccine

· Rigatoni

All of their pasta is vegan-friendly!

Sauces

· Pomodorina

· Garlic olive oil

These two sauces are vegan-friendly and are both delicious!

Toppings

· Roasted peppers

· Fresh spinach

· Roasted tomatoes

· Sun-dried tomatoes

· Roasted garlic

· Broccolini

· Roasted mushrooms

· Fresh mushrooms

· Mediterranean olives

· Asparagus

You can choose up to three toppings. They all sound delicious and give you plenty of options. Oh, and they’re all vegan-friendly!

Sides

· Grilled asparagus

· Broccolini

· Crispy Brussels sprouts

· Spinach and sun-dried tomatoes

All of these sides are vegan-friendly. Still, you should always ask if any of them are topped with butter. If that’s the case, make sure you tell your waiter/waitress to omit it.

Your Vegan Menu

Even though there are parts of the menu that aren’t vegan-friendly, we’re able to put together a decent number of vegan options at Macaroni Grill. Let’s have a look at what it looks like.

Appetizers

· Crispy Brussels Sprouts (crispy Brussels sprouts halves, balsamic glaze)

· Bruschetta (grilled rosemary bread, whipped ricotta, Roma tomatoes, garlic, basil)

Soup (Only If They Use Vegetable Broth)

· Tomato basil Soup (tomatoes, fresh basil, herbs) only order if the kitchen can confirm that it uses vegetable broth 

Create Your Own Pasta

· Pasta (five choices)

· Sauce (two choices)

· Toppings (ten choices)

Sides

· Grilled asparagus

· Broccolini

· Crispy Brussels sprouts

· Spinach and sun-dried tomatoes

Is Macaroni Grill Worth The Trip For Vegans?

It all depends on how you feel about the number of vegan-friendly options that Macaroni Grill offers. The fact that you can create your pasta makes it much easier for vegan dieters. Still, we’d welcome more options throughout the menu, but if you like pasta, you should have a great meal at Macaroni Grill. So, is it worth the trip? I wouldn’t pick it over a vegan restaurant, but I wouldn’t turn down an invitation here.

Final Thoughts

Macaroni Grill has created a menu that can accommodate any diet, vegan included. It’s brilliant that you’re able to create your pasta, choose your sauce, and top it with a great selection of fresh veggies. It demonstrates that Macaroni Grill is flexible and makes every meal from scratch. Combine it with a great ambiance and a selection of great Italian wine, and you have yourself a winning combo.

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