Categorized | Cuisines, Featured, Italian, Menu Development

Pasta Tops Pizzeria Menus

Posted on 01 April 2010 by Agile Chef

It’s clear that the resurgence of comfort foods is one of the major menu trends to emerge out of the economic recession. And what’s a better comfort food than pasta? From penne pomodoro to fettuccine alfredo, few dishes marry satisfying taste an budget-friendly value like pastas. Wholesome, flavorful and easily customizable, pasta is the perfect comfort food for cost-conscious diners and restaurant operators alike.

If anyone knows the value of pasta, it’s the owners and operators of Italian restaurants. From nation-wide chains and franchises to local mom-and-pop shops, more and more pizzerias are adding pasta-based entrees and appetizers to their lineups – and reaping the financial rewards.

Roughly 60% of the independent pizzeria operators surveyed in PMQ Pizza Magazine’s 2009 census already served some kind of pasta dish in their restaurants, and an additional five percent planned to introduce one within the next six months. What’s more, those already serving pasta in their pizzeras reported that 10 to 45% of their restaurants’ total sales came from pasta dishes alone,

Why has pasta become so popular with pizzerias? Simple! Many pasta dishes can be prepared in existing pizza ovens, so restaurant operators can add more entrees and appetizers to their menus without purchasing any new kitchen equipment. Even better, the same ingredients and sauces that make for great pizzas work just as well with pasta dishes and sides.

Entrees are a great place to start. The same tomato sauce and ingredients you use to craft standout pizzas make a great base for an extra-special pasta sauce. Add in the basil, herbs and vegetables that top your garden pizza for a lighter sauce, or throw in some meatballs from your sausage pizza for a heartier option. Whether you’re serving classic penne noodles, stuffed tortellini or an eight-layer lasagna, the right sauce is all it takes to turn a standard entrée into your pizzeria’s signature pasta dish.

For your lunchtime crowds, there are plenty of ways to translate pasta into lighter fare without cutting portion sizes. Calzones and lasagna sandwiches are exciting alternatives to standard subs and muffalettas and can be prepared with the same meats, cheeses and veggies you use for your pizzas. Other lunchtime favorites include stuffed shells and lasagna roll-ups filled with cheese and spinach, and both can be made alongside pizzas to save time in the kitchen.

But why limit pasta to the main course? You already know that garlic bread and mozzarella sticks are great accompaniments to your pizzas, but why not add toasted ravioli or fried lasagna squares to your appetizer menus as well? They’re a tasty way to add extra variety and flavor to your lineup of starters using the ingredients you already have.

So add an exciting pasta entrée or appetizer to your menu. With today’s diners seeking value-driven comfort foods, there’s no better time to give satisfying (and cost-effective) pastas a try in your own pizzeria.

Bernardi Foods is a division of Windsor Foods, who also sponsors Agile Chef.

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