Four Ways Pizza Brings Steady Business to Restaurants

Pizza can fill an important role in a restaurant kitchen by both driving consistent business and helping control preparation time and manage cost by using available kitchen ingredients.

Pizza has been an American staple since its arrival in the late 19th century in cities with large Italian populations such as New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis.  Pizza sales began as peddlers walked the streets with metal washtubs filled with pizzas and selling them for two cents a slice¹.  What can pizza do for your foodservice business?  With its universal appeal and virtually limitless choices of toppings and sauce styles, it can fill an important role in your kitchen by both driving consistent business and manage cost by using available kitchen ingredients. Here are four ways to expand menu options without too many additional SKUs.

Did you know that 93% of all Americans eat pizza at least one time a month²?  All of this demand for pizza warrants a fresh perspective on how to best cater to that critical segment of the dining population. Pizza isn’t just for lunch or dinner. Consider breakfast pizza. Tapping into the breakfast segment can increase traffic resulting in a more profitable bottom line.  And why not consider serving breakfast pizza for dinner?  This breakfast for dinner trend continues to grow and has blurred the lines between traditional foods served in exclusive time segments and crossover dishes finding new life no matter what time of day they are served³.

Pepperoni remains the most popular type of American pizza topping, but consumers are looking beyond pepperoni to new pizza horizons.  New twists on pizzas is fusion – featuring Latin, Asian, and Greek inspired toppings and sauces – to expand the pizza audience in delicious ways. It can be as simple as using an Asian-inspired sauce, like Sweet Thai Chili (with grilled shrimp, sliced jalapenos, fresh chopped green onions and mozzarella) to add Asian flare to your menu. Specialty pizzas can appeal to multiple consumers – those seeking pizza and Asian food lovers alike.  Do you have the basic ingredients for a Mexican dish?  With a few ingredients, making a taco pizza with taco meat and salsa, lettuce and tomatoes is an easy menu extension.

Looking for more unusual, seasonal spins on pizza?  Butternut Bourbon Tavern Flatbread is a rich, crispy flatbread crust with squash, arugula, and baby spinach with an easy Bourbon Sauce as the base for this fresh pizza creation which is accented with goat cheese and olive oil.  Suddenly, new tastes and seasonal, fresh ingredients along with different sauces give customers exciting new pizza options. And expanding on seasonal ingredients, consider apples. A Steak Apple Walnut Blue Cheese Pizza rounds out any pizza menu with shredded steak, apples, and baby spinach.  The rich tastes of hearty steak and crunchy apples brings unique flavor to an old favorite.  This would be a perfect fall creation: a new comfort food creation.

What about a white pizza instead of the traditional red, tomato-based sauce? Using a creamy Alfredo sauce works well to create a more elegant pizza offering. You can use just about any topping on a white pizza that you would use on a red sauced pizza. It can be topped with chicken for a White Chicken Pizza or with shrimp for a Seafood Pizza. The sauce is also very accepting of add-in ingredients like basil pesto, minced garlic, or dried dill to really pop the flavor and create a signature taste that customers can only get from your restaurant.

From its humble beginnings being sold out of washtubs in New York City to the evolution of an entire menu of options, pizza continues to keep guests coming back for more.  More options, more sauces, more recipes…the possibilities of pizza creations are as endless as the ingredients in the kitchen.

Resources

¹”The History of Pizza.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_pizza. Accessed 9 October 2014.

² The Editors of Publications International, Ltd. “Twelve Facts About Pizza.” Howstuffworks. http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/fresh-ideas/dinner-food-facts/12-facts-about-pizza.htm Accessed 9 October 2014.

³”Restaurant.com Predicts the Top Food and Restaurant Trends for 2014.” Restaurant.com. 14 January 2014. http://www.restaurantnews.com/restaurant-com-predicts-the-top-food-and-restaurant-trends-for-2014/. Accessed 9 October 2014.

Creative Ways to Include Regional Dishes to Your Menu

As a foodservice professional, how do you tap into specific regional dishes that may be unfamiliar to your own local cuisine?

One of the greatest attributes of our great American food nation is the variety and quality of its distinctive regional cuisines. Think of a state and you’ll likely think of a dish for which it is famous. It’s this specific regional appeal that consumers are looking for. What are some great ways to add some regional flare to your menu? Come with us on a trip across the U.S.

NORTH

Starting in the northeast, explore the many variations of clam chowder with New England Clam Chowder , a cream based soup with clams, seafood, and savory potatoes. Manhattan, Rhode Island and New Hampshire each have their own unique regional flavor. Seldom do you think of Maine without picturing a plastic bib with a giant, red lobster on front. Although traditionally steamed or boiled and presented on a platter, it is also an attractive ingredient in pastas like Lobster Mac & Cheese.

Lobster Mac and Cheese
A creamy, indulgent, comfort food with a rich lobster flavor.

Massachusetts brings us Boston Baked Beans and New Jersey lush cranberries. Side dishes of signature baked beans or foods utilizing cranberries or cranberry sauce are favorites year-round. Cranberry Nut Bread Pudding is a nice dessert to make a guest’s mouth water.

Two foods that want to claim territory are pizza and wings. A special crust, sauce, or topping will add signature to the menu. Up North, the menu features classic New York Style pizza which is a thin, hand-tossed crust pizza with gooey mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. New Yorkers often buy this favorite by the slice then fold it in half and eat it like a sandwich. Buffalo offers its famous hot wings which consist of a deep-fried, unbreaded wing coated in vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter served alongside celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.

Hand-crafted thick, rich and creamy dressing perfect for salads, dipping sauces and sandwich spreads.
Hand-crafted thick, rich and creamy dressing perfect for salads, dipping sauces and sandwich spreads.

Moving your menu to Philadelphia allows you to showcase the popular Philly Cheesesteak sandwich with its thinly sliced steak, grilled onions and peppers, served on a roll and topped with melted cheese. This versatile sandwich can become a favorite anywhere in the nation!

MIDWEST

Midwest cuisine brings out the barbeque fan in all of us with its delicious BBQ varieties. Missouri is home to two styles of BBQ: Kansas City and St. Louis style barbeque. Kansas City BBQ uses a variety of meats including pulled pork, ribs, beef brisket, chicken, and turkey that are cooked with sweet tomato and a thick molasses base BBQ sauce. Kansas City’s specialty is called burnt ends, which are the extra crispy tips of cooked beef brisket. St. Louis BBQ features thick-cut pork shoulder steak, which is slathered with a tomato and vinegar BBQ sauce of a thinner and less sweet consistency than Kansas City sauce.

The “Windy City” of Chicago offers a hearty Chicago style deep dish pizza which is made in a cast iron pan dusted with cornmeal. The crust is placed inside to cover the entire bottom and sides of the pan and cheese is sprinkled directly onto the crust followed by meats and vegetables. Smooth tomato sauce is poured over the top before baking and the end result is nothing short of fabulous.

SOUTH

Perfectly creamy and extra cheesy grits topped with grilled shrimp and bourbon sauce for the perfect southern comfort food.
Perfectly creamy and extra cheesy grits topped with grilled shrimp and bourbon sauce for the perfect southern comfort food.

Bring the heart of the South into your kitchen with some Southern regional favorites. Grits, a traditional southern dish made of hominy (ground corn) is made into a porridge. While popularly served for breakfast, grits can be flavored with butter, sugar, or syrup. However, grits are no longer just a breakfast food and have found themselves on the dinner plate, especially when cheese is added. Grits are also commonly used to accompany shrimp as a side dish. Another true Southern favorite is Chicken fried steak or “Country” fried steak, a steak that is breaded and fried like southern fried chicken. Chicken fried steak is served with a country gravy poured over it.

Serve on top of biscuits or Southern chicken fried steak.
Serve on top of biscuits or Southern chicken fried steak.

Explore New Orleans cuisine on your menu by featuring the Creole or Cajun styles developed in this area, the history of which helps us understand the differences between the two. Creole cuisine is a blend of French, Spanish, Native American, and African traditions and is seen as fancy, classical cuisine because of the aristocratic lineage. Creole cuisine uses fine ingredients, like shrimp and oyster, as well as ingredients that are not native to the region. In contrast, Cajun cuisine uses a simpler more rustic style of food, with entire meals often made in one pot. Wild game like rabbit, duck, crawfish, and alligator are often used in Cajun cooking as these dishes rely on more of the plants and animals native to the region. Cajun cuisine also tends to be spicier than Creole cuisine.

TEXAS (The debate is still out – West or South)

Let’s steer our menu over to the great state of Texas and explore Chili con carne. Chili cook-offs are so popular because there are so many ways to prepare and enjoy chili, and everyone seems to have an opinion. The only ingredients allowed in true Texas chili are chunks of slow cooked steak, chili peppers, cumin, and other spices and this version does not add beans. Sweeter spices like cinnamon and allspice, which are common in Cincinnati chili, are not added to Texas-style chili. A cheesy variation of chili is the addition of creamy melted cheese to create Chili Con Queso. Along with chili recipes are Tex-Mex recipes, which are the fusion of American and Mexican cuisine. Combining flavors from both sides of the border, Tex-Mex meals include nachos and fajitas.

The robust blend of herbs and aromatic spices entices palates with all the flavors of a sizzling summer cookout.
The robust blend of herbs and aromatic spices entices palates with all the flavors of a sizzling summer cookout.

WEST

California is famous for the avocados grown in the Southern regions and currently produces 95% of the national avocado harvest. This fruit has surged in popularity because of its distinctive flavor and nutritional value, including high dietary fiber and protein. Our Mexi-Cali Cobb Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing recipe is a light, delicious dish that takes advantage of this California gem. Speaking of ranch dressing, the West also boasts the ever-popular Ranch dressing which was invented in Santa Barbara in the 1950s and has become the most popular salad dressing across all states. The creamy dressing, typically made from buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, onions, garlic and other seasonings can not only be used as a dressing for salads, but also as a dip for chips.

Fresh lime juice provides a zesty citrus punch while chopped cilantro adds freshness to this ranch dressing.
Fresh lime juice provides a zesty citrus punch while chopped cilantro adds freshness to this ranch dressing.

We can’t leave California without visiting Northern California’s wine country. Combine a dry, white wine with butter and Monterey Jack cheese for a delightful sauce to adorn fresh caught seafood like sea scallops.

As a foodservice professional, how do you tap into specific regional dishes that may be unfamiliar to your own local cuisine? Foothill Farms® dry-mix, speed-scratch products will help you do just that. From New England clam chowder to Tex-Mex dishes, our products and recipes will help deliver consistent, flavorful dishes no matter what region your menu features on any given day.