Trending Now: Spicing things up on the pasta menu

Something about hot weather has us thinking about spicy foods. We’re not alone! As we’ve learned recently from our friends at Datassential, spicy ingredients and flavors are growing fast on pasta menus. Here are a few to watch and incorporate into your menu R&D.

Calabrian Chili:
+61% 4-year growth
36% know it
Menu adoption stage: Adoption

Why it works: Calabrian chilis have added appeal as an authentic regional Italian ingredient. Once rare, they’re increasingly easy to find in jarred or pickled forms, or even fresh. Their complex, fruity and spicy flavor brings more than just heat to the party!

The Meatball Shop: Shrimp Fra Diavolo – Shrimp sauteed in Calabrian chili oil, served over rigatoni. $19

100% menu growth from 2016-2019
Menu adoption stage: Inception

Why it works: Still found mostly at independent restaurants, N’duja (en-DOO-Ya) is also a regional Italian ingredient, a spicy, spreadable pork sausage made with Calabrian chilies. Because of its soft texture, it lends itself to all manner of applications, from pizzas to pastas and even rendered down to an n’duja oil in dressings and sauces.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill: Italian “Dirty Rice” – Orzo pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, nduja sausage, italian sausage, pepperoni. A unique Italian take on family-style sides. Serves 3-4. $7.99

Chili Oil:
+52% growth on pasta menus
65% love/like it
37% 4-year growth
Menu adoption stage: Adoption

Why it works: Chili oil is ready-made as an optional condiment for guests to customize their level of heat, and it’s also very easy to use as a base ingredient. You can make your own from scratch, or use a commercially-prepared version.

Lockeland Table: Carbonara – black pepper ricotta, gifford’s bacon, pecorino, mozzarella, chili oil, egg

Buon Appetito!

Source for all stats: Datassential, 2021