simple small italian menu all made scratch ideas and criticism plz

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by easychef, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. easychef

    easychef

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         Appetizers (5)

    Spinach Salad

    (Tossed with thinly sliced red onion, and a balsamic bacon reduction)

    Bruschetta Trio

    (French bread sliced and topped w/ White bean citrus, classic tomato basil, and caramelized onion)

    Carpaccio

    (Thinly sliced beef rounds topped with olive oil, basil pesto, and lemon juice)

    Smoked Salmon Spread w/ Flat Bread

    (Shredded wood smoked salmon tossed with lemon caper dill aioli. Served with Flat bread wedges)

    Classic soup of the day

    (Cream of mushroom, minestrone, French onion,…ect.)

    Entree (6)

    Classic Spaghetti Marinara

    (Spaghetti pasta tossed in a simple Marinara sauce)

    Shrimp And Ricotta Ravioli Aurora

    (Shrimp and Ricotta Stuffed Ravioli in a Aurora sauce) 

    Mushroom Pancetta Risotto

    (Arborio rice cooked in chicken stock, with diced mushrooms, Pancetta ham, and parmesan cheese)

    Filet w/ Red Wine Demi-Glace

    (8oz Filet Steak in a red wine sauce served with mixed vegetable)

    Chicken Florentine

    (Pan seared chicken breast Topped with a spinach cream sauce)

    Cioppino

    (Seafood Stew w/ muscles, clams, white fish, shrimp, and calamari)

    Desserts

    Crème Brule

    ( Vanilla custard topped with caramelized sugar)

    Classic Strawberry Cheese Cake

    (Cheese Cake with sliced strawberries and a strawberry coulis)

    Tirmasu

    ( Lady finger layered cake, with coffee liqueur and mascarpone)
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  2. colin

    colin

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    Things may be different in Texas, but given that my usual dining companion is vegetarian, I won't eat at a place with only one veg choice -- especially if that entree is the least interesting item on the menu.

    One of the joys of menus in Italy is the "contorni" section, something rarely seen on U.S. "Italian" menus.  These not only serve vegetarians well, but let you make a meal out of small dishes if you're not in the mood for big entrees.  One possibility, especially on a small menu, would be more (and more innovative) small dishes.

    "Classic" is overused.  You might instead identify a region.  What Italian tradition(s) are you drawing on?
     
  3. easychef

    easychef

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    good valid points

    i was thinking of adding a eggplant parmesan.  my concept is to keep the menus small and simple with a small staff as well so that i can make everything fresh and from scratch without sacrificing quality. i forgot to add that there would be 1 or 2 specials run a day as well 
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  4. jstraw203

    jstraw203

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    The menu seems rather bland, no offense. How small of a staff for how big of a restaurant? I feel you could pull off much more interesting and appealing dishes, and still do everything from scratch. There's a lot you can do with Italian food that allows for a lot of creativity. You know who orders menu items such as spaghetti and eggplant parm? Senior citizens. Again, no offence, but I don't think that's exactly the crowd you're trying to cater to. Make some stuff up on your own that you'd like to eat at a nice Italian restaurant, or try and do a spin off of a classic dish.


    Obviously I don't know what you're situation there is, but have some fun with the menu, don't be afraid to try new things. People are really into trying new foods more than ever it seems like.

    Best of luck to you, keep us posted!
     
  5. jstraw203

    jstraw203

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    As far as menu items...

    What do you think of osso bucco of some sort? Veal or chicken romano might be nice. Antipasto? How about an espresso zabaione as a dessert?

    Just a few ideas that popped into my head.
     
  6. easychef

    easychef

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    word... jstraw you also made some good points... the daily specials would be my time to really kick it up and get creative while at the same time moving product that i need gone

    the problem is finding a veal farm in my area. thinking also about adding a carbonara , and hand made tortellini (with spinach and ricotta) ... i just find that the best italian food i have dined on was for lack of a better word simple with good fresh ingredients and just not messing them up ... plus there isnt one restaurant with in a hundred miles of where i live that makes their pasta from scratch that i have found

    lol and i make one mean marinara sauce ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
  7. jstraw203

    jstraw203

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    Carbonara is a good idea, I like to make mine with pancetta instead of bacon. But you're absolutely right about simple, fresh ingredients. Are you baking your own bread as well? Roasted red peppers can make a great cream sauce for pastas. Another place I worked use to take dry linguine, fry them, and toss them in ranch seasoning, cajun, and a few other spices. Makes for a nice snack to have at the bar on weekends, or every night. Super cheap, and we use to have people asking to buy it in bulk to take home. Just a few more ideas. Good luck, keep us posted, I love new restaurants!
     
  8. jstraw203

    jstraw203

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    Oh, also, an Italian chef I had once showed me the wonders of gnocci. It's very versatile and can be used for all sorts of dishes or appetizers. Make a big batch on Monday and you got specials, sides, and appetizer bases for a week. We also use to take pizza dough, cut it into squares about inch by inch, fry em, toss em in some cinnamon and sugar...boom, doughnuts! Use to cost us about fifty cents to make and we sold them like hot cakes at $7-8 I believe. Serve em with a ramakin of zabaione for dipping.


    Alright, I'm done rambling on and on!
     
  9. easychef

    easychef

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    lol all good man can never get enough good input.
     
  10. colin

    colin

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    Plenty of wild boar in E. Texas, no?  And rabbit shouldn't be hard to come by.  Lots of good Italian dishes there.
     
  11. blueicus

    blueicus

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    I think Colin has the right idea, if you want to have an exciting and dynamic menu look to the less explored aspects of Italian cuisine.  Also look for good sources of local proteins that are out of the ordinary.  Octopus, boar, venison, rabbit are all great choices if the dining public can handle it.

    Also do some reading, strike out some new and interesting culinary trends, read up on various local Italian cuisines and have fun.

    For example with octopus you can do a grilled octopus with arugula pesto, caponata and pickled cherries.  You can roast the rabbit in rustic cut (or cook it in a sugo) with a simple jus, sage and thyme caramelized root veg with a creamy citrus polenta.  Even for desserts give it a bit of Italian flair (even for a dessert as French as crime brûlée) with pistachio flavor and lemon biscotti.

    Finally look to the various regions for different pastas.  Pici is a classic Tuscan shape that also goes well with tomato sauce, orecchiette, garganelli and so forth will set your menu apart from the other red sauce Italian joints.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2011
  12. easychef

    easychef

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    lol i actually just shot a wild pig a few days ago... roasting him hole today
     
  13. the01chef

    the01chef

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    I think you need to understand your clientele before taking up this innovative and creative tangent. Take your basics and put your feelers out there, and specials are a great way to do it. But if it were me, I would have classics on my menu and build from feedback, but risking all to be innovative out of the gate doesn't seem like smart business, it seems like unnecessary risk in the name of ego.

    Sent from my ADR6400L using Tapatalk
     
  14. colin

    colin

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    the01chef is probably dead right in business terms.  But this response makes me very sad -- it explains all those cookie-cutter "Italian" menus, all those restaurants that are like a thousand other restaurants.  "Classics" you can get at Olive Garden!  
     
  15. blueicus

    blueicus

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    Easychef isn't working in Podunk, it's a fairly decent sized town with universities and tourism.  I lived in a similarly sized university town a lifetime ago and it supported a number of interesting restaurants that boasted good and interesting food.  The city's probably saturated with enough eye-talian restaurants and it'll probably be tough to fit in another one in such an intense market.  If there's little competition a restaurant that caters to a different, albeit smaller market can do quite well.

    Ultimately if you can't control other factors to the success of the restaurant all you can do is create food that has good perceived value, tastes good and sells at a profit.
     
  16. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    I agree that the offerings look a bit generic.  If you're making the pasta fresh you could at least do some ravioli with unusual fillings.  I personally love a good pasta arrabiata, and Bolognese sauce can also be killer.  If you have a few things with some "zing" that will help weed out the "blue-hairs" (ie old women).  Italian cooking also makes good use of seafood, so maybe you should work up some good fish dishes.  Shrimp, tuna & swordfish are all good options; they're readily available fresh yet not exotic enough to put people off.  They're also very versatile.

    It's probably a very good idea to add some dishes that are vegetarian or vegan (or that can be easily made so). 

    At the risk of stating the obvious, you'll have to work on making your marinara and pesto sauces really "pop."  So many (most?) restaurants use canned tomato sauces with dried herbs.  You can really differentiate you joint from the Olive Garden-type places by making a killer sauce.

    FWIW, I dislike doing Bruschetta...just too hard serve it and keep it hot.  Depending on the bread, of course.
     
  17. chefatrh

    chefatrh

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    Easychef,

    I also agree with The01chef that unless you have identified your demographic as one that will embrace a more adventuresome main menu, you should stick with the direction your going.  A small menu with hopefully something for everyone and specials that let you go outside the box and play (and figure out what sells and what does not).  I also like the thought of osso bucco, but a less expensive option might be a lamb shank.  I opened my own place 8 months ago and had a menu that mirrors yours size wise.  My wife and I tried to hit all the taste bud options and also provide different price points for all.  With that in mind, you might want to offer a Petite and Double Cut Fillet instead of just the 8oz version.  Does not hit against prep time but we sell a heck of a lot of the 4oz version to people that would pass on the big 8oz one.  I have weekly (ok, sometime bi-weekly) specials that I can use to play and also move product before it becomes waste.  Last week it was a open faced seafood ravioli appetizer and a 24oz Porterhouse.  This week it is going to be 4oz lobster tail, scallop, shrimp and mussels in an Asian broth and something with skirt steak.

    Also, I understand the cookie cutter comments, but I am confident that Olive Garden does not make their own pasta, and that if you do it right people will notice the difference. Ours seem to.

    Good luck and keep it fun!
     
  18. chef torrie

    chef torrie

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    Hmm, doesn't sound bad, but if your in need of a small- ish menu, a couple more interesting dishes/spin on classics to go with some of your currents maybe? Just throwing out some possibilities; appetizer wise, fried Sicilian arangini, artichoke parmesan beignets, porchetta and broccoli rabe puffs with garlic and crushed red pepper. For entrees maybe balsamic braised short ribs with herb polenta, vegetable ragu over whatever kind of fresh pasta you prefer. For desser any kind of gelato or fresh berry sorbetto has worked well for me in the past. Good luck! 

    Cheers, Torrie
     
  19. the01chef

    the01chef

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    I understand the sadness of cookie cutter, as this country is filled with it, but I promise Olive garden doesn't scratch make anything and that's why it tastes like frozen recontituted cardboard. Honest food stands out easily in this corporate riddled country. A country I love of course!
    Sent from my ADR6400L using Tapatalk
     
  20. guts

    guts

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    Didn't really bother to read any of the replies on this one, but after a very quick glance I noticed quite a lot of non-Italian items...

    Aioli - Spanish
    French Onion Soup - French
    Demi Glace - French
    Creme Brulee - French
    Cheesecake - Greek (I think...)
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012