By Flavor & The Menu
June 16, 2022
Pizza is a people pleaser, serving up comfort and craveability in every slice. The pandemic certainly dialed up demand, with off-premise pizza delivering a familiar favorite when indoor dining options were either nonexistent or unfavorable. Pizzerias upped their game during this time to stay competitive, and, with the increased demand, more restaurant operators added pizza to their rosters, menuing whatever moved them, from Detroit-style squares with lacy frico edges to single New York-style pizza slices dotted with ‘roni cups. Running parallel to that consumer surge in demand was an energizing force in the craft of artisan pizza making, with chefs experimenting with doughs, sauces and toppings during lockdowns and throwing together pizza pop-ups with highly creative flavor combinations and fun, neighborly vibes.
All of this adds up to an incredibly dynamic pizza category that is rich with opportunity—opportunity that just keeps growing.
Source: Datassential Snap Keynote
Meaty Menu Sightings
For inspiration, take a look at these trend-forward examples from restaurants around the country:
- Carnivore: Fred’s Red Sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, Canadian-style bacon, salami, linguiça and fresh Italian sausage — Blind Onion, Portland, Ore.
- Shia LeBeef: Smoked brisket, bacon, red onions, pickled jalapeños and smoky barbecue sauce — Thunderbird Pies, Dallas
- The Carnivore: Smoked pepperoni, natural casing pepperoni, ham, sausage and bacon — Via 313 Pizzeria, Austin, Texas
- Holiday Ham Pizza: Prosciutto cotto, tomato sauce, mozzarella, compressed pineapple, mustard and brown sugar glaze — Brewer’s Fork, Boston
- 62% of consumers love pepperoni
- 54% of consumers love meat lovers’ pizza
Source: Technomic Pizza Consumer Trend Report 2020
How About a Little Fun?
A quick look across the pizza landscape today reveals a joyful appreciation of all genres, no matter the location. In fact, unlike in days of old when regional pizzas were typically stratified into their respective geographic zones, operators are adopting different regional specialties into the national pizza arena. Driven by enthusiastic, uninhibited consumers interested in a broad range of pizza traditions, operators nationwide are exploring varying styles of pizza—from thin-and-crispy-yet-chewy New Haven-style to rectangular-shaped, thick-crusted Sicilian-style pizza—sometimes even running a choice of those wildly different styles on the same menu.
The trend today points to a celebration of all-things pizza, reminding menu developers that the format itself is fun, inviting playful, inventive combinations. Slim & Husky’s, a counter-service pizzeria in Nashville, offers a good example. It calls itself a “pizza beeria,” with decor inspired by ’90s hip-hop and a menu that features pizzas like the Rony, Roni, Rone!, with classic red sauce, a house cheese blend, pork pepperoni, beef pepperoni and spiced pepperoni. Tribute Pizza in San Diego does exactly what its name implies, paying tribute to great pizza styles across the country with its varied menu. Its Dirty Dancin’ pie pays tribute to Roberta’s in Brooklyn, N.Y., along with Ben Adler of The Washington Post. It features organic crushed tomato sauce, mozzarella, shaved red onion, fresh jalapeño and pineapple, housemade harissa ranch, and the options of bacon lardons and fennel sausage.
Of course, we can’t survive on pizza alone. Portable options, like calzones, deliver that crave and comfort modern diners yearn for while providing the convenience of an on-the-go eating experience. Janet Kirker, Executive Chef/Partner of Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, makes a signature handheld with her Chicken Mole Calzone with Chihuahua Cheese and Roasted Butternut Squash, featuring Smithfield Smoke’NFast Pulled Chicken. Guajillo, ancho and pasilla chiles lend smoky depth and lingering heat, while cloves, anise seeds, coriander and cinnamon give the mole a rounded, flavorful profile.
When it comes to pizza and beyond, Smithfield Culinary has the portfolio of products to make the dishes that attract customers and drive sales:
- dried and cured Italian meats
- bacon and ham
- fully cooked and smoked meats
From the Best of Flavor 2022 issue of Flavor & The Menu, for chefs and menu developers. Read full issue online.