Customized pasta at the ready
Today’s consumers want what they want when they want it. Your offerings can match your customers’ desire for customizable pasta dishes that arrive to the table fast. Go with a build-to-order pasta bowl or create delicious add-ins for your current pasta dishes.
Fully-customized pasta lines may resemble your pizza makeline with noodles, sauces and plenty of fresh and prepared ingredients that customers can choose from. Pasta choices are abundant, from classic spaghetti, angel hair and linguine to more adventurous shapes, like Orecchiette, stelline and campanelle.
Provide traditional sauce options like marinara, meat sauce, alfredo and pesto. Consider adding a few of the following bold sauces: spicy Diavolo, balsamic, Gorgonzola, pomodora, vodka, carbonara Puttanesca, mushroom or herb-infused oils.
Veggie, cheese and protein combinations are endless. Find ways to create unique pasta suggestions based on ingredients already on your pizza line.
Don’t forget the ever-popular mac and cheese. Gourmet mac and cheese is hot. Mac and cheese add-ins, like mushrooms, pancetta, Parmesan and arugula become a featured pasta. Or make it BBQ mac and cheese with bacon, BBQ sauce, green onion, jalapeños and pepper jack.
You don’t have to rip up your kitchen prep stations to add customization to your pasta menu. Adapting your pasta menu for customization may be easier than you think and can increase check averages.
Milton’s Pizza and Pasta in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Venezia’s NY Style Pizzeria in Phoenix, Arizona, have built customization into their pasta dishes.
Montanile says about half of the pasta dishes ordered at Venezia’s are customized.
We get a good majority of customers that order meatballs with their pasta,” Montanile says. “We make our own recipe so it is definitely a crowd pleaser. I think it is a great upsell to customize pasta options. We offer our marinara sauce or pesto sauce for our pasta. We offer grilled mushrooms, Italian sausage, extra cheese and meatballs.”
Spaghetti on Milton’s menu is accompanied by suggested additions, like meatballs, melted cheese, meat sauce, sautéed mushrooms, Italian rope sausage and pepperoni. Milton’s baked Mac-N-Cheese is also priced with bacon and crab add-ins.
If cooking fresh pasta in minutes isn’t part of your pasta procedures, there are a few considerations when using prepped pasta. Cook pasta. When al dente, let it cool thoroughly by running it under cold water. Massage with olive oil. Portion it and refrigerate. Submerge the pasta in boiling water per order or heat with sauce and mix-in ingredients in a sauté pan.
Janik and Montanile have some pasta prep advice.
“It is important not to overcook the pasta when you prep it,” Montanile says. “It should still have a slight bite so that when you drop it in the pot when you have an order it does not get too mushy and soft. ”
Janik says, “Fresh fresh fresh ingredients…handle the pasta with love. Don’t over cook or over stir.”
The key to pasta quality is portion control and consistency with your procedures, Janik says. “We do precook the pasta very carefully,” he says. “Al dente, plenty of
water, don’t over stir, rapid cool in ice bath to get temp to 41 F then put in cooler. We do pre-portion in cheap sandwich bags to ensure consistency.”
Some pasta dishes are a bit more intensive. “The biggest challenges when offering pasta is prep time, especially for an item such as lasagna, which we serve,” Montanile says. “It is a very time-consuming process that has to be baked in advance to produce trays of it to portion up and sell.
Denise Greer is executive editor at Pizza Today.