Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
November 14, 2022

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Creative chefs across the country are giving Gen Z one of their go-to favorites—pizza—while ensuring it delivers on the bold flavors they love. Here, we take a look at menus that bring the heat, enticing diners with assertive flavors in interesting combinations. The in-market examples showcase a deft use of heat, from trending flavor play and intriguing combination of ingredients to successful flavor building and balancing of heat with countering elements.


Generate immediate interest with a heat-laced sauce. Fruit-based sauces are peaking on pizza menus, while tomato and cream provide a classic pizza sauce base primed for spice.

Summer Heat: Jalapeño-apricot sauce, mozzarella, pulled pork, Canadian bacon, pineapple, jalapeños and Mama Lil’s Pickled Peppers
The Watershed Pub & Kitchen, Seattle

Spicy Milano: Spicy marinara, Serrano peppers, Italian sausage, spicy pepperoni, cremini mushrooms, yellow onions, fresh mozzarella and Romano cheeses and wild Greek oregano
California Pizza Kitchen, based in Los Angeles

The Italian Stallion: Italian beef, Chicago Italian sausage, horseradish cream sauce, chives, oregano, sweet peppers (spicy)
Capo’s, San Francisco


Excite and expand the adventurous taste preferences of younger patrons by infusing the beloved pizza format with pumped-up layers of flavor-packed heat. Incorporate varying heat levels to ensure every bite dances with bold flavor.

Kickin’ Chickin’: Spicy cream cheese, chicken, mozzarella, provolone, bacon, onions, jalapeños, finished with a drizzle of Sriracha sauce
La Torcia Brick Oven Pizza, with locations in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi

Hatch Chile & Chorizo Pizza (LTO): Roasted Hatch chiles, chorizo, sweet corn, fire cheese, mozzarella, Hatch chile cream sauce
Gap Co., Dallas

How Stracciatella Got Her Groove Back:
San Marzano tomato sauce, spicy soppressata, chile oil, shaved garlic, jalapeños, Parmesan and stracciatella
Parlor Pizza Bar, Chicago


Make an indelible impression with a heat-spiked cheese or signature finishing touch. A unique cheese blend or finale of drizzles and splashes of lively heat create an instant mood enhancer and heighten the pizza eating experience.

Ghost Wave: Italian sausage, green peppers, creamy mascarpone, mozzarella, ghost pepper cheese, honey
Extreme Pizza, based in San Francisco

Korean Chicken Pizza: Ledo sauce, smoked provolone cheese, gochujang- marinated chicken, drizzled with gochujang pepper sauce, pickled red onions and pickled carrots garnish
Ledo Pizza, based in Annapolis, Md.

The Spice Is Right: Pesto, kale + broccoli “power” blend, mozzarella, red Thai curry chicken, pineapple and a “Sri-rancha” finisher
MOD Pizza, based in Bellevue, Wash.




About The Author

Rob Corliss

Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.