In The Kitchen

Artichokes: All Choked Up

2011 March: All Choked Up

Sure, pepperoni, onions and mushrooms will always be beloved pizza toppings. But as patrons’ palates evolve, so does their desire for trendy toppings. Filling this of-the-moment-ingredient spot is the artichoke. The artichoke is a member of the thistle or sunflower family. While it is a formidable plant to tackle, the edible “heart” provides a nutty,More »

2011 March: Dough Doctor

2011 March: Dough Doctor

From time to time, I get questions from operators wanting to know what the secret is to making a decent thin-crust or thick-crust pizza. To answer this question, I’d like to share some tips for making both thin- and thick-crust pizzas. Thick-crust pizzas always seem to be a bit problematic for those who haven’t madeMore »

2011 March: Keep it Neat

2011 March: Keep it Neat

A neat, clean and organized kitchen is always a happy kitchen. Life in our pizzerias can be hectic. When compared to other restaurants, I think we put out a larger menu with a much smaller space, for the most part. It creates a lot of work and a lot of prep –– all in tightMore »

2011 March: Seafood Pasta – Fruits of the Sea

2011 March: Fruits of the Sea

Frank McCarron, general manager/ chef at Portino’s Fresh Italian in Valley Center, California, wanted to freshen up his menu. So he decided not to introduce a new type of pizza, but instead opted to incorporate seafood pasta specials. “Seafood pasta spices up the menu and offers variety for customers,” says McCarron. At Portino’s, seafood pastaMore »

2011 March: Spicy Alternative

2011 March: Spicy Alternative

What exactly is soppressata? In a nutshell, it’s a form of dry- cured salami. A specialty of southern Italy, it is traditionally made using pork (beef is used on occasion). The basic seasonings include cracked red pepper and garlic. Depending on who is making it, some versions are hotter than others (in other words, moreMore »

2011 March: My Bad

2011 March: My Bad

We all make mistakes (ever forgot a birthday or anniversary?). Usually we can make amends in some fashion (roses? dinner out?) and life goes on. In the business we are in, mistakes can cause a deeper problem –– like a customer not coming back –– so we strive to get it right the first timeMore »

2011 February: Fresh or Frozen?

2011 February: Fresh or Frozen?

Grill it. Roast it. Fry it. Smoke it. Pizzeria operators have a seemingly endless list of ways to prepare chicken. However, deciding on what type to chicken to use — fresh or frozen — is more limited. There are benefits to both. “Fresh chicken is not only the most economical purchase alternative, it’s also theMore »

2011 February: Business Solutions – Portion Control

2011 February: Business Solutions

We’ve beat this drum before, but we’ll continue to beat it until operators everywhere heed the call and begin taking portion control seriously. The fact of the matter is that portion control is sound business that should save you at least five percent on your food costs — and it’s incredibly easy to enact. Let’sMore »

2011 February: Potato Chips – Value Added

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2011 February: Value Added

There’s hardly a better accompaniment to a great sandwich than potato chips or fries. But in the pizza business, where kitchens often are small and a fryer isn’t always required, chips typically get the call. Which isn’t a bad thing at all: Americans love potato chips so much they’re the country’s favorite salty snack (secondMore »

2011 February: Raise Your Glass!

2011 February: Raise Your Glass!

Tradition says that pizza places need to offer soda, pitchers of beer and maybe a couple of wine options. But now, with pizza moving more upscale and customers expecting a wider variety of options, many restaurants have gone the way of full bars –– from a simple and well-stocked corner stand to an ornate woodMore »