Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Mike Kostyo
June 14, 2023

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How many meats must a pizza have to qualify as a meat lover’s pizza? Two? Three? Ten? (Pizza Hut released a 10-meat pizza in Japan in 2021.) Are any meats fair game, or are options like sausage and pepperoni considered must-haves? While few of us are losing sleep over these existential questions, the lack of a true definition for what constitutes a pie designed to catch the meat lover’s eye means that meat lover’s pizza builds showcase a wide range of flavor play on menus today. Now there are offshoot monikers (“carnivore” pizzas, hog-centric pies), plus a range of non-pizza menu items, such as tacos, burgers and omelettes, that are getting the meat lover’s treatment.

Photo Credit: Chubs

Upscale ingredients like linguiça take this six-meat Lover’s Pizza at Curry Pizza House to the next level.

While most meat lover’s pizzas feature the traditional protein options found on any pizza menu (pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon), many operators are going upscale and featuring premium proteins. Atlanta’s Humble Pie, which mills its own flour for its pizzas, features a range of upscale ingredients to take its pies to the next level, including braised short rib, local pepperoni and bacon on its Carnivore pizza. At Curry Pizza House, the Indian-style pizza concept based in California, the meat lover’s pizza does indeed feature ham, pepperoni, beef and sausage, but it also adds salami and linguiça for a six-meat pie that combines traditional and premium options.

While three- and four-topping meat lover’s pizzas are common, operators like Curry Pizza House take their meat lover’s options to the next level when they add even more proteins, with some adding six, seven, or eight meats alone. At Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in the heart of San Francisco’s Little Italy, the Carnivore Pizza features salami, both thick and thin cup and char pepperoni, Italian sausage, smoked applewood bacon and ham. Mazzio’s, based in Tulsa, Okla., features a Six Meat pizza with pepperoni, classic and Italian sausage, beef, Canadian bacon and bacon, plus a Hog Heaven pie with pepperoni, sausage and bacon.

Meaty Menu Builds

But the concept of a meat lover’s build doesn’t have to be limited to pizza. Take anything that already features meat and simply add more meat. Here are just a few examples from restaurant concepts across the country:

  • Meat lover’s omelettes are a common sight at breakfast spots across the country. Ham, bacon and sausage are the norm, but The Town House in Oviedo, Fla., adds gyros, while Tommy’s Salsa! in Novato, Calif., includes carne asada.
  • At Canada-based Boston’s Pizza, the Hungry Carnivore Pasta includes Italian sausage, diced meatballs and diced pepperoni over penne pasta with Bolognese.
  • The Spicy Meat Lover’s Pizza at Bull Chicks, with locations in Texas and Louisiana, tops a one-third pound burger with chicken breast, then tops that with applewood bacon, finishing it with pepper Jack and American cheese on a fresh-baked bun.

America is still largely a nation of meat eaters, which means meat lover’s options, from over-the-top pizza builds to the wide range of other meat-centric menu items, continue to perform on menus. Your next meat lover’s option may be as simple as raiding your walk-in for every protein you can get your hands on.



About The Author

Mike Kostyo

Mike Kostyo is the VP of Menu Matters. Mike has been a recurring guest on Fusion TV’s “The A.V. Club” show; has been featured on NBC News, CBS Radio and Gimlet Media’s “Why We Eat What We Eat” podcast; is regularly featured in newspapers and magazines; speaks at numerous conferences across the country; and was a judge on Food Network’s “Eating America.” For nearly 11 years, Mike was an associate director and trends expert at one of the industry's largest research firms. He has a master's in Gastronomy from Boston University, plus certificates in the culinary arts, baking arts, wine and artisan cheese production. [email protected]