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Picazzo’s Wholesome Italian Kitchen in Arizona serves array of diets

He didn’t want years of restaurant expertise to know the way addicting meals could be.

However when Picazzo’s Wholesome Italian Kitchen associate and operations supervisor Chris Disney determined to take a single step to accommodate prospects’ gluten sensitivities, he had no thought it will have a domino effect-like journey to serve a variety of patrons’ dietary wants. 

And what began as a mission to supply gluten-free choices was a springboard for Picazzo’s present identification as a hub for vegan, keto-friendly and natural dishes, too.

Again in 2007, the restaurant began to experiment with gluten-free gadgets. However when the recession hit the next yr, Disney mentioned the crew aggressively moved ahead. The thought: Meet the necessity for wholesome eating choices for these with dietary restrictions in addition to those that don’t, bringing everybody collectively in the identical eating expertise — an expertise many wanted throughout these robust instances. 

“Individuals who needed to eat gluten-free had different wants. Once they ate out, they struggled,” Disney mentioned. “We needed them to be ok with with the ability to get pleasure from meals at a restaurant as others did.” 

Picazzo’s latest location in Gilbert is the restaurant’s newest car for a menu that’s lauded for its inclusiveness. Along with providing a 100% vegan menu flaunting a big selection spanning salads, entrées, pasta, pizza and desserts, 95% of the produce is natural, and sauces and dressings are constructed from scratch utilizing natural spices and non-GMO sunflower and imported olive oils.

When the Gilbert spot opened its doorways this summer season, it grew to become the Arizona-based family-owned and operated entity’s fifth location within the Valley. The unique location in Sedona opened in 2002. In 2004, Scottsdale grew to become Picazzo’s first Valley restaurant with the others in Tempe, Phoenix and Glendale following.

Early challenges for creating the menu

Disney talked about taking place the rabbit gap of dietary lodging. When he opened the Phoenix location in a former Italian restaurant, that’s when the large gluten-free motion was made. For instance, they got here up with a gluten-free vegan crust recipe that makes use of applesauce. 

“If we’re making it egg-free and dairy free, we’d as effectively make it vegan … . We’ve the crust however what good is it if the tomatoes aren’t natural?” Disney mentioned of the development. 

The objective was to craft these dishes in a approach that nobody — not even these with no wheat subject — might detect. However that wasn’t the most important problem.

On the time, it was very tough to supply gluten-free merchandise in bulk, restaurant-friendly items, Disney mentioned. As a substitute buying these things on the normal trade shops, they have been purchased in retail packaging off the shelf, which wasn’t environment friendly or value efficient. 

However they proceeded anyway. Slowly, this led to the push for natural elements and vegan plates. Disney continued to run into the identical impediment with bulk availability. It was extraordinarily tough to obtain gadgets that have been gluten-free and vegan, for instance. 

And the concept that this might all be executed in an Italian restaurant with a menu that by nature oozed indulgent consolation added to the problem. 

“How do you create meals that has that type of taste and richness and continues to be wholesome … ? We have been pondering, ‘Is that this the appropriate transfer?’” Disney mentioned. 

Seems, it was. Picazzo’s has skilled a mean yr over yr income progress of 8% firm broad, Disney mentioned. 

And in contrast to most eating places, Picazzo’s gluten-free choices don’t include the next price ticket, or what he known as a “celiac tax.” A brand new interactive dietary menu is Picazzo’s newest software that helps prospects discover dishes that work with their diets.

Broad enchantment for diet-specific dishes

The most well-liked dishes, just like the gluten-free hen parmesan that manages to be wholesome however not essentially low fats, enchantment to diners with out dietary wants. 

Beth Steurer is amongst them. The Chandler resident doesn’t stay removed from the Tempe location and has been a Picazzo common for eight years.

“They’ve actually good wholesome meals. I’m not vegan or gluten-free, however I recognize the number of meals they’ve,” Steurer mentioned. 

Her favourite is the spicy chipotle hen pasta made with brown rice penne and tossed in a chipotle alfredo sauce. 

“It makes me really feel much less responsible about consuming pasta,” Steurer mentioned. “I might eat it on a regular basis.” 

Through the years, Steurer has made associates with fellow regulars and bartenders. This welcoming vibe provides to the enchantment and, she believes, displays the administration.

“I’m going again due to the atmosphere. It’s a effectively run institution,” she mentioned. 

Disney began as a bartender at Picazzo’s and stored getting alternatives to greater positions through the years, finally incomes his present place overseeing all its places. 

Disney grew up in and across the restaurant trade and sought a distinct profession. However at any time when he tried one thing new or was about to start out a brand new path, the trade he fought to run from lured him again.

“Each time, eating places stored successful that battle,” Disney mentioned.

Disney comes up with the recipes. The truth that these now should embrace a seemingly overwhelming mixture of gluten-free, natural and vegan permits him to indulge a artistic streak that he thought eating places couldn’t fulfill.

“I put that power and creativity into this subject to create one thing totally different on this subject,” he mentioned. 

Picazzo’s appeals to a demographic that fuels a plant-based meals market anticipated to succeed in $74.2 billion by 2027, in keeping with Analysis and Markets.

The restaurant additionally companions with the Southwest Autism and Analysis Heart in a marketing campaign that donates $1 of each chocolate chip cookie dessert to the non-profit. 

Disney talked about eating places that depend on gluten elements as the simplest, quickest answer after they don’t have anything geared towards plant-based wants. 

Disney, nonetheless, hasn’t been and received’t be tempted to take that route. And that journey hasn’t ended.

“Having gluten-free, vegan and clear gadgets is a problem,” Disney mentioned, citing the brand new Gilbert menu that displays the path Picazzo’s is headed. “We be ok with our menu however there’s nonetheless extra for us to push.” 

What: Picazzo’s Wholesome Italian Kitchen 

The place: Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix, Glendale and Gilbert. 

Workers: 200

Factoid: The plant-based meals market is anticipated to succeed in $74.2 billion by 2027, in keeping with Analysis and Markets.

Particulars: picazzos.com

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