January 18th, 2021

How Pizza Changed in 2020

Posted in Food Trends, Pizza

Pizza Continues to Prove its Adaptability

Pizza Popularity during COVID-19

Looking at how pizza changed in 2020 is a great way to see what consumers want to see in food trends. It’s basically the finger on the pulse of innovation.

Why is this? Because pizza is not only ubiquitously loved in almost every demographic, but it’s also the perfect platform for flavor creativity. Think about some of the crazy pizzas you’ve seen over the past few years: Unicorn pizza, the Hot Dog Bites pizza, or the 30-lb taco pizza from Tony Boloney’s in New Jersey.

While these pizzas may not have the resilience of classic pepperoni, they do prove something. You can put almost anything on a pizza and people will enjoy it.

But let’s look past the more “viral” pizza endeavors to those with staying power. Here’s how 2020 changed pizza forever.

How 2020 Changed Pizza

Crusts Rethought

2020 Pizza Trends

Photo courtesy of foodbusinessnews.com

Let’s start at the bottom.

2020 showed a heavy investment in changing what the crust of a pizza could be. Many of these iterations, like the Fathead Pizza from Boston’s and the trio of Donatos pizzas all featuring cauliflower crusts, were born from excitement around the low-carb diets. 1000 Degrees Pizza also launched a cauliflower crust in partnership with Caulipower®, but their intent was more focused on the power of vegetables.

Uno Pizzeria launched a Sausage Crust Pizza, which, if you couldn’t guess, featured a crust made from Italian sausage. But it’s not all about less carbs. Pizza Hut made a bold move with their Mozzarella Poppers Pizza, and both Cici’s and Little Caesars added a crispy cheese crust to the offerings.

Other innovations included fried chicken pizza crusts, Alfredo stuffed crust, and bacon-wrapped crusts.

Plant-Based Meats

How 2020 Changed Pizza

Photo courtesy of foodbusinessnews.com

2020 became the year of plant-based (PB) proteins. With a mix of trends around health, environment, and the humane treatment of animals coupled with the leap forward in plant-based protein quality, it was the perfect opportunity for PB proteins to shine.

Pizza Hut launched a duo of Beyond Italian Sausage™ Pizzas, Donatos launched a trio of plant-based pizzas, and Papa Murphy’s went with a PB pepperoni offering. All of these options were well-received by the restaurants’ customer bases and show promise for a future of plant-based protein innovation.

Global Flavors

Photo courtesy of foodbusinessnews.net

Photo courtesy of foodbusinessnews.net

Global flavors have been rising for some time now, but it seems pizzas are going to help take things to the mainstream. 2020 had some surprising hits around the concept of globally influenced pizzas.

Domino’s successfully launched a Chicken Taco Pizza, while Jet’s Pizza made waves with their Mexican Pizza featuring chorizo and jalapenos. Also, Topper’s Pizza made a great run with their Vegan Korean BBQ Chicken-Less pizza (also hitting the PB protein trend), while California based Pizza Guys launched a Curry Veggie Delight pizza featuring curry seasoning, potatoes, and garlic sauce.

Finally, fast-casual chain Your Pie went a step further with their Chicken Al Pastor Pizza topped with avocado pineapple salsa, jalapenos, and smoked-chipotle ranch sauce.

Hot Hot Heat

2020 Pizza Trends

Photo courtesy of NRN.com

Lastly, heat is in. This observation, however, is not new, it’s more of a constantly building trend. We’ve seen piquant pizzas for some time, but the creativity in heat is starting to change.

Nashville Hot Chicken pizzas, for example, are a more non-traditional way to get heat on pizza. Chains like MOD pizza are using specific chile callouts (i.e. the Calabrian chile red sauce) to drive interest in new forms of heat. Even pizza adjacent categories like condiments are driving the heat trend. A great example is the growth of New York-based Mike’s Hot Honey.

Brooklyn Ave. Pizza Co. combines heat and global flavors with their Latino Pie featuring a spicy poblano pepper mole sauce. That’s a lot more interesting than sprinkling on some chili flakes!

Order Up!

Consumer trends will continue to reshape what a pizza can be, while culinary innovators will continue to reshape trends with ambitious pizza platforms to excite and intrigue. Around and around, we go. Pizza is proving to be the world’s most interesting culinary merry-go-round; whose limitations are only those of the imagination. What trends do you think we’ll see next in pizza? Let us know in the comments below.

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May 6th, 2019

New Pizza Flavor Opportunities

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Pizza

Fast-Casual is Driving New Pizza Flavor Ideas

New Pizza Flavors

Due to its worldwide ubiquity, we are always searching for new pizza flavor ideas. Thanks to the rise in fast-casual pizza restaurants, with their lower price point and menu flexibility, experimentation is becoming expected.

With that expectation, it’s important for pizza flavor trendsetters to forecast ahead of the curve and try new things. So, what kinds of flavors should pizza restaurants be experimenting with? How about…


One big way to attract excitement in your local market is with regional flavor ideas. Restaurants along the BBQ belt should be experimenting with different BBQ sauce-based pizzas. It’s important to maintain popular trends within this category, however. Spicy, smoky, bourbon-based, and chile specific (i.e. ancho chile BBQ sauce), are great ways to tack on unique twists. Build that up with exciting new toppings like pulled pork, brisket, pickles, or fried jalapenos.

Pizza Flavor Trends

New York still reigns as the Buffalo chicken capital of the country, and with no end in sight for the love of spice, why not double down? How about a Buffalo chicken pizza made with buffalo sauce infused queso, or Buffalo caramelized onions for a sweet heat mix? Even changing up proteins can go a long way. Buffalo ground beef with a creamy blue cheese drizzle could be a way to reinvigorate the customer base.


Breakfast Pizza Flavor Trends

Breakfast is all the rage right now, and breakfast pizzas are an easy way to harness this trend. Try a shakshuka pizza made with a spicy harissa and roasted tomato sauce topped with feta, kalamata olives, and crispy onions. Or go fusion with a zesty Piri Piri chili sauce, smoky Spanish chorizo sausage, and sweet bell pepper.

Or go all-American with a hash brown pizza topped with sriracha ketchup, grated cheddar cheese, and thick cut bacon. Finish it with a little green onion and you’ve got a winner!


If you really want to try a wild card go for a more exotic build. A Korean BBQ pizza made with gochujang sauce, candied pork belly, and fresh bok choy will challenge palates and perceptions. Or if you’re looking for something smokier, how about a guajillo chile sauce topped with sliced Andouille sausage, pickled red onion, and some fresh cilantro.

Pizza Flavors

Personally, I’m a fan of a good Indian red curry pizza with fire grilled chicken, thick cut yellow onion, a drizzle of citrus yogurt sauce, and a dash of fresh mint. If you’re looking for a fresh take on a classic, try this Hawaiian/Mexican hybrid. Al Pastor style pulled pork, tangy pickled pineapple, Hawaiian Kona coffee sauce, and fire-roasted red peppers.

The World is Yours!

Literally! Global flavors are the driving force for current food trends. Finding ways to introduce international flavors into familiar builds will go a long way in staying current. The uniform love for pizza makes it the perfect medium for flavor experimentation, especially in the fast-casual arena.


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August 27th, 2018

2018 Pizza Industry Review – Pt. 2

Posted in Consumer Trends, Pizza, Product Innovation, Restaurants, Trends

Enhanced ordering, & new menu items


Welcome back friends. Let’s do a quick catch-up session here.

Last blog we talked about the 2018 Pizza Industry, focusing on consumer preferences (convenience, quality, affordability), national chain vs. independent restaurant stats, and international growth.

Today, we’ll cover new menu trends and enhanced ordering with a spotlight on new tech.

Menu Trends

2018 is the year of personalization. Customers are looking for unique toppings, signature pies, and the ability to make whatever wacky concoction pops into their mind (looking at you, unicorn pizza). This has led to an expansion in toppings held on the line for many restaurants (think Brussels sprouts, clams, and brisket).

2018 Pizza Trends

Photo Courtesy of Teen Vogue

This love for customization is also a contributing factor to the success of fast casual pizza restaurants like Blaze and Mod. Additionally, these restaurants are quite popular with guests looking for healthier options or suffering from allergies and intolerances. They have many offerings to help avoid triggers and amp up the health quotient while still creating a delicious personal pie.

Finally, Detroit style pizza has found a proper following and is trickling across the nation. Most major cities now offer Detroit style, which is a deep dish pizza made in a rectangular pan. Its caramelized edges and thick, chewy dough have been turning heads and gaining a stable of fans for good reason.

Enhanced Ordering

As we discussed in the consumer needs section on the previous post, technology and ordering convenience are major factors in the customer’s restaurant choice. With 69% of internet users choosing the online ordering option per Emarketer, it’s imperative for pizza restaurants to not only adopt this measure, but make it convenient and easy as well.


Hand in hand with ease of ordering is efficient delivery. Customers want a fresh, hot pizza delivered to them within minutes of submitting the order, and, as it turns out, they prefer that delivery to be directly from the restaurant, rather than a third party service like GrubHub or DoorDash.

Pizza restaurants are also looking into new technology to help with faster delivery. Domino’s, for example, has developed proprietary technology that allows consumers to order pizza in multiple convenient ways (including through Twitter, Zero-Click ordering, the AnyWare app, and into the future with natural voice). They’ve even gone as far as to commission a line of automated vehicles complete with built-in pizza ovens that will be capable of baking a freshly made pizza en route to your home.


2018 Pizza Trends

That’s a wrap for the 2018 Pizza Industry Review. With all that’s happening around technological innovation, I can’t wait to see what the landscape looks like for 2019.

Be sure to comment about what you’ve seen or anticipate seeing in the future of pizza. The only limit is your imagination (see: Unicorn Pizza…).


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August 13th, 2018

2018 Pizza Industry Review – Pt. 1

Posted in Food Trends, news, Pizza

Customization, Tech, & Speed lead 2018 Pizza Trends

2018 aims to be a benchmark year for the pizza industry. Data is showing a rise in the US and global pizza market, along with an increase in average unit sales for the top 50 chains. All while this is happening, the number of US pizzerias has actually fallen for a net loss of roughly 299 establishments. More people are ordering pizza more often from less overall places. Sounds like the market is refining itself.

Pizza trends 2018

But let’s take a deep dive into the pizza market and how we can anticipate what comes next. This will be part one of a two-part series, covering topics including consumer needs, headline news, the international market, menu trends, ordering practices, and, of course, the best technology company that sells pizzas.

So what is driving the pizza industry?

Consumer Preferences

Convenience is key when it comes to consumer needs. Pizza companies are really starting to understand this by offering many convenient ways to place orders. Through websites, social media, various online ordering mediums, and specialized delivery tech., consumers literally have pizza at their fingertips anytime, anywhere.

2018 Pizza Trends

Without quality, however, convenience is rendered meaningless. Consumers still consider quality a primary driver when making their decision on where to buy a pie. Quality can carry a very subjective meaning though. What one person considers a trait of quality others may not, which is one reason there’s so much room to play in the pizza sandbox.

And finally, we can’t talk about consumer needs without discussing cost. As Americans dine out more and more often, they find themselves watching the cost of meals more closely. While most consumers are willing to pay a premium for artisan and specialty pizzas, they expect to pay “reasonable” prices for the more standardized items.

National News

Pizza loves to take the headlines, and 2018 will be no different. According to Business Insider, fast-casual pizza was the fastest growing segment in 2017 with no sight of slowing down. As it happens, Blaze Pizza holds the #1 position for fastest growing restaurant chain in the U.S.

Fast Casual Pizza 2018

We are also observing excellent growth via sales increases in the industry. North American chain restaurants have reported a growth of 5.83%, while independent restaurants have grown 2.65% per Euromotor. This shouldn’t worry independents too much, as consumers still often choose them over chains for reasons including community involvement, personalized service, and having shared customer values.

International Growth

Across the globe pizza is becoming a staple of the diet for many different cultures. It’s becoming especially popular in places like Africa and the Middle East. Euromotor has shown a growth from $4.29 billion in sales in 2015 to $4.66 billion in 2016.

Pizza Industry Trends 2018

Pizza Hut has noticed this growth and the potential in these markets. In Pakistan alone The Hut has planned to double its restaurants to over 150 in the next 5 years. These cultures view Western foods like pizza as a status symbol, leaving a rare opportunity for a company to initiate new levels of brand loyalty globally.


That’s quite a bit of info to absorb in one day. Check back the week after next for Part 2 of our 2018 Pizza Industry Review series.


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December 18th, 2017

Food Truck Series: Regal Ravioli

Posted in Food Trucks, Italian, Organic, Pizza, Restaurants, Trailer/Street Foods

Regal Ravioli Food Truck Review

Regal Ravioli Austin

I grew up in a middle class family with two working parents. This meant lots of solo time to be adventurous and get into some (good natured) trouble, and it meant more than one microwaved dinner fresh from a can.

My personal favorites at the age of 8 were Hormel Chili with Beans and Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli, each of which I usually finished with a bit of Cheddar cheese (don’t judge me, I was 8). The culinarians reading along are probably shuddering internally, but the truth is at the time, I loved those foods, and they were something my parents could have on hand to ensure I ate dinner.

Now, here I am 25 years later, sitting at Austin’s very own Regal Ravioli, having weird Chef Boyardee flashbacks. Now, don’t misunderstand me here, these are no canned, preformed pasta squares. This is gourmet, handmade shells stuffed with things like beef brisket and winter squash. This is ravioli elevated! But it feels comfortable and reassuring.

Run by Chef/Owner Zach Adams, who hails from Washington D.C., Regal Ravioli proves to be a truly special food truck on the Austin landscape. What makes it special? You mean aside from the fresh pasta made by hand daily, the locally sourced organic ingredients, the unique ravioli twists like roasted beet, or the prevalence of hearty vegetarian options on the menu like mushroom ravioli or sweet potato gnocchi? How about the fact that Regal has been running strong since 2011 and still holds a monopoly on ravioli trucks in Austin.

Their business is so consistent, as it turns out, they’re in the process of working on a pizza truck to fill the vacant space near them in their park. You can rest assured I’ll be stopping by to try that out. But let’s talk about what really matters, the food.

Sausage Ravioli w/ Tomato Marinara and Veloute Sauce

Sausage Ravioli

An instant classic. Pasta on the ravioli is a perfect al dente, nice fennel-y sausage on the inside with touch of pepper, and a bright, fresh tomato sauce made with fresh, aromatic basil.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Bolognese Sauce

Gnocchi Austin

Good flavor on the gnocchi, however they went past cooked and into mushy, which is a shame. However, the Bolognese sauce is a real treat. Fresh and bright yet still meaty and savory, simply delicious.

Mushroom Ravioli w/ Pecan Pesto

Mushroom Ravioli

This was a real showstopper. So much flavor in such a little pillow. Fantastic mushroom and herb filling with a hint of truffle to really get the nose going. The pecan pesto is creamy and nutty while maintaining a cheesy quality that’s divine. I need more thumbs to put up for this dish.

Roasted Beet Ravioli w/ Caramelized Red Onion and Orange Zest

Italian Restaurants Austin

Let me lead with the fact that I don’t like beets, however, I love culinary risk takers. This dish was definitely a risk taker. While I thought the dish could have benefited from additional sweet/tangy flavors (i.e. Balsamic vinegar), the execution was perfect. Everything was cooked well, fit the profile, and was absolutely unique.

Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli w/ Caramelized Onion, Poblano Pepper, and Gouda Veloute

Italian Food Trucks Austin

There’s something decidedly wonderful about the combination of winter squash and smoky peppers. And, apparently, if you take those two items and stuff them in pasta and smother it with Gouda cheese sauce it goes from wonderful to amazing. Great combination, unique twist, all around outstanding.

Handmade Meatball

Italian Food Austin

I’ve long felt a good ruler for quality when it comes to classic Sicilian Italian fare is the meatball. If I use that rule then Regal is doing great. Flavorful meatball, not too dense, not too salty, nice herbs and garlic, and definitely more meat than binder. Cuts with a fork but doesn’t crumble. Nailed it!


Quick Italian Austin

Hey, after all that pasta I needed some fiber, and Regal’s broccolini is a complete win. Charred just enough to compliment the bitter notes, cooked nicely with a bit of crunch left, and served with roasted garlic and a wedge of lemon. I could’ve eaten 3 orders of this easy.

So there you have it friends. Another Austin food truck, another delicious meal. Thanks Regal Ravioli for being the standard bearer of what delicious, home-style Italian cooking should be. I’m looking forward to seeing what you can do with a pizza (don’t sleep on the broccolini).

Until next time,


Regal Ravioli
1502 S 1st St.
Austin, TX 78704

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April 6th, 2015

Bufalina – Austin Restaurant of the Month

Posted in New Foods and Flavors, Pizza, Restaurants









Helmed by Steve Dilley, Bufalina showcases the best Neapolitan Pizza that Austin has to offer. Fondly dubbed “the Aaron Franklin of Pizza”, he is a former financial trader who made the jump to pizza. His background includes a stint at the prestigious Vera Pizza Napoletana in Naples in 2010, as well as a brief stint at Pizzeria D’Atitilio, which opened in 1937.

The two year project to build out Bufalina included bringing in an authentic Stefan Ferrara oven brought all the way from Italy. And it is a sure thing of beauty:












The atmosphere is cozy and lit with candles. The majority of the seating is picnic-style with long communal tables. Overall, the interior, while understated, is comfortable.










The pizzeria prides itself on more than just its pizza offerings though. The hand-pulled Mozzarella is made with curd from local dairies (or is brought from New Jersey when local milk is not available). Our plate featured a tomato relish with capers, fresh basil, and a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper. Overall, the plate was well balanced.












Bufalina also offers a daily pasta special. The featured pasta was actually quite lovely. The tagliatelle was rich with egg yolks and reminded me of the pasta my grandma used to make by hand when I was little. It was topped with pulled pork and braised chard with a ladle of duck jus over the top. I rather enjoyed this dish, as it really took me back to grandma’s homemade noodle soup, where everything came from the farm. Definitely memorable, especially since it is rare to see freshly made pasta on a menu in Austin.











Next on the menu was the Calabrese pizza, which was topped with a light tomato sauce, slightly spicy salami, roasted red peppers and fresh Mozzarella. The dough was well fermented and the pizza had the signature charred crust we come to expect from Napoletana-style pizza. Overall, this was a decent pizza, but the flavors could have been amped up a little (think Calabrian peppers instead and some intense garlic notes).

calabresepizza1 (1024x931)











The Brussels sprout pizza was next up. It featured sliced Brussels sprouts, serrano peppers and chopped ham. This was my favorite dish by far, but I am probably slightly biased since I happen to love Brussels sprouts. There was a nice char on the Brussels, and the touch of heat from the serrano peppers balanced the salty sweetness of the ham quite well.

brusselssproutpizza (1024x913)











For dessert we chose the orange olive oil cake with coffee ice cream. The cake had a nice crumb, somewhere between a pound cake and a scone, with rich olive oil notes and a touch of orange.  The coffee ice cream played unexpectedly well with these flavors.

oliveoilcake (756x800)












And one last thing if you want to try this cozy little pizza place: get there early. They fill up fast, and they do not take reservations for parties under eight people. We dined right when they opened, and I am glad we did! The line to wait got pretty long pretty quick, with waits over two hours, and that was within 45 minutes of arriving.

October 30th, 2014

Focus on Fall Flavors: Get Your Pumpkin On!

Posted in New Foods and Flavors, Pizza, Restaurants, Trends

It’s that time of year! Time to roll out the pumpkin flavored products. Pumpkin has become so popular that a certain drink at Starbucks goes by the shorthand of PSL. Just search on Twitter for the hashtag #PSL and you will see what I mean. The PSL has even spawned a video parody to the song “Shake It Off”.

So what is the allure of the pumpkin? For some it can be the nostalgia of the fall season, and for others it answers to a deep-seated need for rituals. Pumpkins are associated with the fall season, so it just makes sense that consumers ring in the season with pumpkin-flavored products.

While some people do not understand the allure of pumpkin flavor others live in obsession over this humble squash. According to an article written for CNN, pumpkin’s popularity increased 14% over the past year, and 34% over the past 5 years. This translates to more and more farmland being dedicated to growing pumpkins.  Other articles call for an end to the pumpkin madness, stating that the market is over-saturated by pumpkin products.

Restaurants, including QSRs and Fast Casual alike, have definitely embraced this mega-trend for fall, so let’s take a quick peek at some of the latest products created to rival the ubiquitous PSL and a few other goodies designed to complement these pumpkin offerings.

Tropical Smoothie Café: their ‘Naughty or Nice’ seasonal promotion showcases interesting smoothies in unique flavors (Cranberry Truffle, Peaches N’ Pumpkin Spice, and Very Berry Cranberry) to complement their Pumpkin Pie smoothie. In addition, they are featuring 2 new sandwich combinations just in time for the holidays: the Chipotle Cranberry Turkey Club and the Rustic Turkey Apple Club.

Dunkin Donuts: the new Pumpkin Crème Brulee Latte and the Croissant Donut (which is set to release on Nov. 3) are featured items on the Dunkin Donuts menu. And for Halloween, they featured a pumpkin pie donut in the shape of a jack-o’-lantern as well as the Boston Scream donut filled with vanilla custard.

Quizno’s: New Pumpkin White Chip bars were released just in time for Halloween and are available for a limited time. Basically a pumpkin-flavored blondie, they are sure to be tasty.

Panera: the Turkey Cranberry Flatbread Sandwich and the Butternut Squash Ravioli are newly released items. Finish your meal with the new Caramel Apple Scone. While there are no pumpkin flavored offerings in their new menu items, they feature other traditional fall flavors.

Stevi B’s: by popular demand, they are bringing back their Pumpkin Pie Pizza, a limited-time dessert pizza with pumpkin pie filling and sweet icing.

Pie Five Pizza: also coming back for the fall season is Pie Five’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cake with warm spice notes, pumpkin pie filling, and spiced pumpkin frosting.

Regardless of whether you are firmly seated on the pumpkin bandwagon or you do not care for pumpkin flavors, you cannot deny the consumer draw of including pumpkin on your menu.

March 31st, 2014

The Future of Take N’ Bake

Posted in New Foods and Flavors, Pizza, Restaurants, Trends

Papa Murphy’s, the grand daddy of the take and bake concept, has been the trailblazer in this sector of the pizza industry since they invented the idea in 1981. Their recent addition of a pan pizza that they call “fresh pan pizza” debuted in February of this year to all markets. It has received good reviews so far, and this addition has served to round out the menu at Papa Murphy’s.

With the success of such a well-known chain, several other chains are capitalizing on the improved margins from the take and bake model.

Godfather’s Pizza just announced that they are opening a take-and-bake concept this spring called Big Vinny’s Take & Bake Pizza. Set to open in Lincoln, NE, the concept will showcase fresh dough and premium ingredients to create customized pizzas for their customers.

ZPizza, a chain that is one of the first to use organic flour and organic tomato sauce, just recently launched a take and bake option in gluten-free and wheat crusts. The bonus? The gluten-free crust is just as tasty as the wheat crust.

Figaro’s, an Oregon-based chain, claims to be the first chain to have offered gluten-free take and bake pizzas to its customers back in 2011. They also offer take and bake lasagna and calzones with baked or take and bake options.

Noble Roman’s has 22 locations that offer take and bake pizzas (traditional, SuperThin, and deep-dish Sicilian), breadsticks, chicken wings, cookies and cinnamon rounds. At the end of 2013, 56 franchise agreements had been signed for new locations. They feature fresh-made sauce from crushed tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and spices. To grab a larger share of lunchtime pizza revenue, they are also testing the “You Bake or We Bake” concept in a 3 store test.

Mama Mimi’s is an award-winning small pizza chain based in Cincinnati, OH. They have won “Pizza of the Year” at the National Pizza Festival in Las Vegas as well as the “Best Gourmet Pizza in North America” at the prestigious World Pizza Championship in Italy. With 6 locations in operation, and award-winning pizzas like Mama’s Marmaletta Amore (apricot glaze, mozzarella, chicken, caramelized onion, basil, red pepper flake and gorgonzola), they definitely define gourmet take and bake pizza.

Several companies have taken a different approach to the desire for take and bake. By offering nationwide shipping on their pizzas and other products, the following chains seek to further widen their customer base into new territory:

Donato’s Pizza recently came out with a line of gluten-free pizzas and flatbreads to complement their regular take and bake options. These are offered in-store but also in Kroger’s and on Amazon’s online store to be shipped right to your door. This allows them to extend their customer reach while still providing the quality pizzas that their customers expect.

Lou Malnati’s is the king of the deep-dish pie in Chicago. And they will ship you a pie anywhere in the country via the website www.tasteofchicago.com . They also offer a Pizza of the Month Club for those who cannot get enough Lou Malnati’s.

Whichever delivery method a chain chooses, great quality take and bake is the pizza of the future. It should not be underestimated by operators as the trend in ‘gourmet at home’ becomes more and more popular.

January 14th, 2014

Detroit Style Pizza: What’s the Hype?

Posted in Pizza, Restaurants, Trends

A truly American style of pizza, the Detroit Style Pizza started from humble beginnings in 1946, as World War II was coming to a close. Buddy’s Rendezvous in Detroit, MI wanted to offer returning war veterans a taste of the foods they had in Europe during the war. Where everyone else was serving them fish and chips, Gus Guerra had other ideas. He and his wife Anna pulled out the family recipe books and developed the pie that is infamously known today as Detroit Style Pizza.

The pie, known for its edge-to-edge cheese, is baked in a special blue steel pan that caramelizes the edge of the cheese. The pizza also features sauce on top of the cheese (“pizza upside down” to some), which is added after the pizza is fully baked. The focaccia-like crust is a favorite among those preferring thicker, airier crust.

Detroit-style pizza is making the headlines lately too: Shawn Randazzo of Detroit Style Pizza Company took the honor of World’s Best Pizza at the 2012 International Pizza Expo for his homage to his hometown. In the spring of last year, Little Caesar’s rolled out a Detroit-Style pie, which is considered to be the biggest single product launch for them in their 54 year history. And in August of last year, Via 313, in Austin, Texas was named one of the top 33 places to eat pizza in America by the Huffington Post, with the Detroiter rated the best on the menu:


To understand the differences between this pizza style and others, let’s look at the components that make it authentic:

1) The pie must be baked in a seasoned square pan

2) Dough hydration must be between 65% and 75%

3) Dough proofing specific to the type (I could not elaborate in my research what this means) (some sites stated to proof with the cheese on top of the dough for 2-3 hours)

4) Pepperoni under the cheese

5) Cheese from edge to edge

6) Red tomato sauce on top

7) Baked in a deck oven

The website www.detroitstylepizza.com offers a training program and certification to those interested in taking their Detroit-Style Pizza-making skills to the next level. You can also buy the authentic pans (seasoned or unseasoned) on the website if you cannot find them elsewhere. Very recently, there was a major shortage of the pans, causing panic among operators in this market. The one and only factory that made the pans closed down production in West Virginia to move its operations to Mexico. Getting the factory up and running in Mexico took much longer than previously thought, which resulted in a huge shortage of blue steel pans that lasted nearly a year. Ironically, the pans were originally utilized to hold small machine parts in factories, and were never meant for pizza production. Just very recently, they started selling “make your own Detroit Style Pizza Dough” kits on the website as well. The kit includes a seasoned authentic dough pan, pan lid, spatula, pan grippers, and dough mix. You can also buy a dough mix refill that contains enough mix to make 20 small Detroit Style Pizzas. http://detroitstylepizza.co/mail-order/

With all the excitement around Detroit-Style, I decided to head over to Via 313 to see for myself what sets it apart from other pizza styles. The “313” in the name is in honor of the very first area code in Detroit. Housed in a small trailer in the back of Craft Pride on Austin’s infamous Rainey Street, Via 313 is the blood, sweat, and tears of two brothers: Zane and Brandon Hunt, both originally from Detroit. The brothers shared passion for pizza saw them receiving their VPN certification for Tony Gemignani in San Francisco in 2010. Both are certified in Pizza Napoletana (VPN) and in Detroit Style Pizza. Next came the truck that they opened on East 6th in Austin, TX in 2011. It wasn’t much later and the buzz reached the national level.

We ordered two pies, and the first to come out was the Omnivore. It was topped with cremini mushrooms, sweet onions, natural casing pepperoni, pinched hot Italian sausage, and green peppers. The cheese had a perfectly caramelized edge, just as promised, with a light and airy yet buttery crust with seemed lighter and fluffier than focaccia. It was topped with a thick red sauce and sprinkled generously with herbs. This was a very fresh tasting pizza with high quality ingredients.

Next up was the Cadillac, a little bit more fancy-schmancy, with creamy Gorgonzola cheese, fig preserves, prosciutto, and Parmesan. This pie was not finished in the typical Detroit fashion though: a balsamic glaze replaced the typical red sauce. I loved the flavors on this pizza, but felt that the prosciutto could have been shaved thinner so as to be less chewy. It was missing that crispy character that I would expect on an artisan pizza.

These pizzas will fill you up, and as far as comfort food in a pizza, they really hit the mark. You could feel the love that went into making these pizzas. What better meal than one of this light and crispy pies to welcome you to Austin!

June 27th, 2013

Hottest New Pizza Concepts

Posted in Pizza, Restaurants, Trends

With Pizza Chains increasing in popularity, it’s time we looked at some of the trendsetters for 2013:

Blaze Pizza: Pasadena, CA Web: www.blazepizza.com

With 13 more opening this year, Blaze Pizza is up to 56 franchised locations. A lot of its expansion is outside of CA this year with upcoming openings in Detroit and Chicago to name a few.

Their menu has some interesting pizza combinations, and a make your own pizza selection. Interestingly, the veggie option includes unlimited vegetables, which I have never seen before. I could see that being a definite plus for the health conscious or vegetarian crowds, so it’s nice to see on a pizza menu.

800 Degrees: Los Angeles, CA Web: www.800degreespizza.com

Just starting out in California, 800 Degrees utilizes a wood-burning oven and claims that they can bake your pizza before you even leave the counter. At 800 Degrees, they use local products, including locally made Mozzarella, wild yeast, and high-end toppings, such as bacon marmalade, rosemary ham. Complemented by Gorgonzola or Boschetto di Tartufo, and lovely Italian truffle cheese, it sounds heavenly. Look for the new locations at LAX and in Santa Monica.

MOD Pizza: Seattle WA Web: www.modpizza.com

With 8 locations, this Seattle, WA based pizza franchise is aimed at the 20-something crowd. Each pizza is $6.88; and with ingredients such as Asiago, roasted red peppers, and artichokes it is a great price point. Rounding out the menu are several salads and knots in garlic or cinnamon as well as handspun milkshakes, beer and wine. The name is homage to the British “MOD” subculture; they dub themselves “young, retro and slightly irreverent”. The pies and the atmosphere sound just plain fun.

Live Basil Pizza: Denver CO Web: www.livebasilpizza.com

The brainchild of the founders of Smashburger and Quizno’s, Live Basil made its debut in the Denver, CO market in May of this year. Another quick fire pizza style chain with its roots in Naples, Italy, the sauce uses San Marzano tomatoes and a natural 3 cheese Italian blend (Mozzarella, aged Provolone and Grana Padano). The restaurant’s namesake, basil, is grown onsite and picked daily to top your pie.

Brixx Pizza: Belmont, NC Web: www.brixxpizza.com

With 23 East Coast locations and some coming soon, they must be doing something right. Georgia is the latest foray for the Belmont, NC based Brixx Franchise Systems LLC management team. A word play on a winemaker’s term, Brixx has an extensive wine and beer selection that sets it apart in the fast casual segment. Technomic name this concept the one to watch for 2013:


Toppers Pizza: Whitewater, WI Web: www.toppers.com

Fifty four units strong and growing, Toppers is attempting to position itself as a serious competitor in the big box arena. In the short term, 30 stores are set to open by the end of 2013. By 2020, they have their eyes on the 500 mark. With a whole line of Topperstix, toasted grinders, “Q’za” (a quesadilla style pizza), and their signature pizzas, they have every hunger craving covered.


Go Roma: Park Ridge, IL Web: www.goroma.net

Go Roma, with 6 locations in the greater Chicago Area, is a quick service Italian restaurant that features soup, pasta, salads and of course pizza. All items are made in the back of the house and use simple, fresh ingredients.

Naked Pizza: New Orleans Web: www.nakedpizza.net

Touting their pizza as all natural, and to your door in 25 minutes, they are trying to save your health, one pizza at a time. With a crust made from 10 grains, such as quinoa, oats, buckwheat and brown rice, the focus here is on good for you, great tasting pizza. Now serving customers at 13 locations across the US.

Pieology: Rancho Santa Margarita, CA Web: www.pieology.com

Opening 6 locations in the near future, Pieology guarantees your pizza within 5 minutes. From James Markham, the same guy behind MOD Pizza, they offer a great array of toppings and after bakes.

SPIN! Neapolitan Pizza: Kansas City, MO Web: www.spinpizza.com

With 5 locations in Kansas City, and 2 more in California, they offer Gluten-Free and Vegan menu selections with a complete wine and craft beer list as well as signature in-house Sangria in your choice of 3 flavors.