Pizza trends to watch in 2024
By Canadian Pizza StaffFeatures Business and Operations Trends editor pick pizza trends
We highlight six trends keep on your radar for 2024
Pizza in Canada is as exciting, creative and promising as ever. Even with some heavy operational challenges, pizza and all its complementary products continues to sell and constantly reinvent itself.
The independent pizzeria is right at the centre of that excitement. Here are some key trends to keep on your radar.
Mushrooms in all their forms, especially truffles, are being played up on menus these days. We’re not entirely sure what’s behind this trend: their nutritional properties, their earthy taste and meaty consistency, or restaurants wanting to get creative with vegetables to draw in the plant-based crowd. Their appeal is undeniable. For more ideas and inspiration, see Karen Barr’s feature in October 2023, “Fall topping trends.”
Trying different styles
Thomas Schneider of Tommy’s Pizzeria in Winnipeg, who took second in our chef competition in Toronto by making a satisfying Detroit-style pizza. What’s remarkable is that he tried this style for the first time for the competition – even though it was a departure from his regular style. Schneider recently said he planned to experiment more with tavern-style, grandma-style pizzas and lactose-free pizza. This creative and ambition are what the Summit is all about and why it is the place to see trends unfold.
In recent years, pizza guru Tony Gemignani has branched out to Slice Houses and deep-dish pizza through his Capo’s brand. With strong sales, Tony G’s boldness should be an inspiration to all pizzerias to try something new.
Health is on the minds of Canadians and now that is understood to include mental health and the health of the planet. Healthy pizza is finding its way onto most menus. Two examples: Creative chef Maurizio Mascioli is serving healthy, local, food-to-table pizza at Maurizio’s Pizzeria in Parry Sound, Ont. Zen’Za pizzeria in London, Ont., ahead of the curve, has been serving ultra-thin and crispy pizzas completely made to order for their customers living with health issues, restrictive diets or specific preferences. Both businesses tell a compelling story about a sustainable way to live. Consider making changes to your menu and operation – if they make sense to you and reflect your own values.
Fruit on pizza
Apple, peach, fig, lemon all give a kick to savoury pizza. But controversial pineapple caught our attention this year when well-respected Naples chef Gino Sorbillo added pineapple to his pizza menu at Pizzeria Sorbillo. As CNN Travel reported, “This isn’t your regular Hawaiian: it is a pizza bianca, denuded of its tomato layer, sprinkled with no fewer than three types of cheese, with the pineapple cooked twice for a caramelized feel.” Pineapple is on lots of pizza menus in Canada: grilled, marinated and prepared in creative ways. It’s selling. Maybe 2024 is the year to play it up and play up your Canadian-ness!
In his article “Hour struggle” in our April 2023 issue, Andrew Hind explored how labour shortages and risk of burnout causing pizzerias to curtail operations. Several readers responded that the pizzerias in this story reflected their experience of adjusting to changing customer traffic patterns, a need to offer flexible hours to current team members, attract new employees and even to protect their own time and capacity as owner or manager.
Related to this is a North American interest in apertivo. Baum+Whiteman’s 2024 forecast describes the trend as an “age-old European pre-dinner unwinding time is gaining traction versus booming, boozing happy hours. . . . The underlying concept of aperitivo culture is to slow down and wind down . . . . Traditionally, you’d go home or out to dinner afterwards. But there’s a newcomer in Italy called Apericena. It’s smaller than a robust dinner but bigger than small bites . . . a budget way of neither cooking at home nor springing for four heavy courses. Often the food is on a buffet or served on a large board or in bowls passed around family style.”
Pizza suits this tradition well.
No doubt about it – pizza chefs are loving the freedom of contemporary-style pizza. Our two chefs of the year, Giuseppe Cortinovis and Amedeo Broccolo showed us versions of this close cousin to Neapolitan that breaks free of the strict characteristics required to qualify as AVPN.
The term contemporary encompasses a style called “canotto.” Cortinovis writes in his blog at lovemypizza.com: “The name refers to the puffy crust, which is achieved through careful stretching and baking techniques. The dough is typically made with a high hydration level, of around 70%. Often made with a preferment like Poolish or Biga, to help achieve the desired texture.” This style is one to watch and experiment with at your pizzeria.
If you can communicate your passion, skill and love of community to the Canadian public, pizza will always have a place in their lives and weekly budgets.
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