Olive Garden
Credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Olive Garden is so much more than its unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks deal—it's a national institution. In fact, the beloved restaurant chain just announced its best quarterly sales to date. But how, we wondered, do they do it? It's not that we were surprised... just curious. Luckily for us, the folks over at Delish were asking the very same question, and boy did they get answers.

As it turns out, it's not just one thing that keeps hungry diners coming back, and there's definitely nothing in the water (well, at least there's no salt). So, without further ado, read on for some of the most mouthwatering tips and little-known facts about America's number one Italian restaurant.

They don't salt their pasta water

When it comes to their pasta, OG proudly flies in the face of culinary convention. Going against one of the most basic rules of cooking, Business Insider reports that Olive Garden chefs do not add salt to boiling water before cooking noodles. Gasp! And their reason for doing so is surprisingly utilitarian: it extends the lifetime of the cookware.

It is Southern at heart

The very first Olive Garden location opened its doors in 1982 in Orlando, Florida. Thirty five years later, the chain includes more than 800 restaurants and more than 96,000 employees.

They'll cater your next party

That's right, for orders more than $100, Olive Garden will come to you—salad and breadsticks included. The catering menu includes all the fan favorites as well as an option to create your own pasta stations. And the best part? They deliver!

It's the place to be on New Year's Eve

We'd be lying if we said this one didn't surprise us just a little. According to Delish, tables at the Times Square location can be reserved for $400 per person on New Year's Eve. The price includes three floors of dancing from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.; plus, there's a bottomless buffet and free drinks all night.

Chicken alfredo reigns supreme

"Chicken Alfredo is Olive Garden's most popular menu item," a representative for the brand recently told Popsugar. "Out of all the noodle options, Olive Garden guests prefer fettuccine noodles. As far as pasta toppings go, Olive Garden guests love the grilled chicken."

You can buy the signature salad dressing by the bottle

Yes, seriously. Plug in your zip code to find out which stores near you carry this delicious nectar of the gods.

There are discounts off gift card purchases

Buy between $500 and $999 and you'll get a solid 5% discount. Buy a card with a balance of $1,000 or more (mangia!) and you'll get 10% off the purchase.

Gluten free options

Fear not, our gluten-averse brethren! Olive Garden offers gluten-free pasta made from corn flour and rice flour imported from Italy. Talk to your server about what options are available.

There is an Olive Garden cooking school in Italy

"Every year, more than 200 managers and team members travel to Olive Garden's Culinary Institute of Tuscany," a representative told Popsugar. "This trip is designed to immerse team members in the Italian culture while learning about the cuisine and interacting with Olive Garden's overseas partners, the wineries and pasta makers we consider to be a part of Olive Garden's extended family."

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They offer a coloring app for kids

This one goes out to all the parents. OG recently released a 3D coloring app to keep kids entertained until the food comes. Thank you!