They’re made with just flour and water, but mixing these simple ingredients has created one of the world’s most popular foods. Noodles, from Italian pasta to all-American macaroni and cheese, and from Asian wheat or rice flour versions to those used for chicken noodle soup, are on the menus at about half of American limited-service restaurants.
The saying goes that history repeats itself. That might be the case today in the limited-service restaurant industry, as one of the world’s oldest foods, street food, has again risen to prominence in the U.S., with everything from Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches to Italian piadas finding success among American consumers.
There are three entrées on the menu at Piada Italian Street Food: pasta bowl, chopped salad, and piada. What customers can create with those three options, though, is practically endless.
The restaurant’s namesake item, the piada, starts with an Italian thin-crust dough made with flour and olive oil. That crust is baked on a stone grill, then filled with ingredients and hand rolled. It’s similar to a wrap or a burrito, but an Italian version. The Piada concept is also similar in service and style to Chipotle, but, again, an Italian version.
PIADA Italian Street Food, a fast-casual Italian eatery based in Columbus, Ohio, with restaurants in Ohio and Indiana, announced that Catterton Partners, a consumer-focused private equity firm, has made a significant investment in the company. Catterton's investment will be used to continue growing the PIADA concept across the country. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
PIADA has 14 locations across the Midwest, with six planned to open by the end of 2013. The company is poised for significant national expansion throughout 2014 and the years to come.
Although most restaurants will change ingredients in an entrée to meet a guest’s request, a growing number of pizza and ethnic eateries are letting diners build their own menu items from scratch.
“It’s a system that delicatessens and street-food vendors worldwide have used for years. For many consumers, the concept of having restaurant staff assemble fresh, high-quality food in front of you to your design has great appeal,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Chicago-based market research firm Technomic Inc.
Modern Italian cuisine is the next big thing in fast casual. Or at least, that’s what some major quick-service operators are banking on.
Fazoli’s and Sbarro each plan to debut a fast-casual Italian concept in the near future, following in the footsteps of successful regional brands fusing popular Italian dishes like pasta and pizza with the growing trend toward premium ingredients and customization.